15 August 2010

Tomakomai Pelagic


A Black Footed Albatross off Tomakomai yesterday, one of around 20 or so offshore...........

I joined Tomoyuki and friends for a 4 hour pelagic trip. It was a warm overcast day but the sea was fairly calm (a good job as the boat was pretty small) and the birding was great, I got 6 new birds for my Japanese list and 5 of those were lifers.

Bird of the day (for me at least) was the Black Footed Albatross.




Some were quite tame and approached the boat looking for scraps........







Looks at that huge bill...........




I fired off lots of shots but I kind of forgot to get any close ups (some of these shots were under 200mm).............

Still there's always next time..............










My first ever Albatross species.........

  

I tried some action shots but these weren't so successful, I need to pay more attention to my technique/settings here........







The Albatosses were very confiding but most of the seabirds weren't so approachable. WE also saw a more distant Laysan Albatross but it was on the way back and we didn't have time to stop and take a good look.

Tomoyuki and friends were very good with IDs. The most common birds were Sooty and Streaked Shearwaters. the latter were easy to identify.



Wheres the former looked very like Short Tailed Shearwater, not sure if I'd be able to tell the difference to be honest.

There were big flocks of Sootys but none of my pics from yesterday are worth posting, as I said, next time next time......

It was difficult to photograph birds from a small boat, I'm a total landlubber and I was aware that I could slip and be tipped off any time and found it tricky to move around. Most of today's shots (except the Albatross ones) were pretty poor, not helped by the fact I'd decided to put a protective filter on my lens. My last trip on a boat had resulted in my lens front element getting soaked with sea spray and unuseable until I could get home and clean it properly. There was no spray this time and I took it off towards the end and the IQ improved noticeably.

Plus the fact I need to experiment and practise a bit more with some of the 7D's AF capabilties........

The species of the day for most on the trip was this. A crappy record shot of a Fork Tailed Storm Petrel.


There was even a flock of them around.............


There were also lots of Red Necked Pharalope, these have a knack of always flying just out of photo range............




A few Skua were also seen, Arctic and Pomarine..........here's a record shot of an Arctic resting on some flotsam.

Other birds included Rhinoceros Auklet, Common Tern, Great Crested Grebe and a flock of Japanese Green Pigeon flying around the harbour. On the drive up we got a surprisingly large number of Grays Grasshopper Warbler calling from various roadside locales and Tomakomai's famous resident Magpies.


We saw some Dolphins and for a few minutes what we thought was a pair of Minke Whales. On closer inspection it turned out to be a tree.........

Thanks to Tomoyuki for organising the trip, it was great and I hope to go back at least one more time this year. And thanks to my wife for getting up at 2am to drive us up there..........

We were lucky with the weather on the day of the boat trip, for 3 days before there was a typhoon with very heavy rain and the rain returned today too. On driving back we had a real south Hokkaido rarity: a traffic jam. Heading back south wasn't so bad but the northbound lane was tailed back for many miles. This weekend is one of Japan's three big holiday periods and we usually avoid travel at those times.

Thanks for clicking this link.........

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Liverpool's first game of the season tonight. 2010 has been a footballing nightmare so far, will this be when things begin to look up?

11 comments:

  1. Congrats on the lifers and the albatross! I've seen one in Chile and these birds are huge and beautiful... Yeh sometime we are so much in our pictures stuff that we forget to get nice close-up or other things we would have done if we were not too excited by the encounter.... The red-necked phalarope have turned into their winter plumage here too and are more difficult to reach now!

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  2. Totally speechless! These photos of the albatross are amazing! I think I should join the trip next year.

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  3. I'm glad to read your exiting post.
    I'll invite in October when many Skua will come to Tomakomai!

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  4. You got some very nice images of this mithycal bird here!

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  5. Nice to get all those lifers Stu. The albert shots are just brill and I guess we know where you will be this time next year or sooner if you get the chance.

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  6. Great stuff Stu! I've only seen black-footed alb off California - in mist!

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  7. Looks like a great trip with all those lifers.
    Black Footed Albatross has severe appearance deficits.

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  8. Hi Galllcissa, I think they look rather endearing...........though my wife says they look like an extra ugly kind of seagull, other people I showed photos to thought it was a kind of duck. Philistines........

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  9. Envious of the Albatross and the Fork-tailed Petrel, especially.

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