31 January 2010

Lots of good stuff to end the month........

Two of today's star birds, a drake Long Tailed Duck at Oshamanbe and a Mountain Hawk Eagle tucking into some salmon at Yakumo.

The latter is a scarce bird in Hokkaido and is only the second one I've ever seen. It has very thick powerful talons and it looks like it doesn't take s**t from anyone. The local Crows left it well alone (something they don't need to do with the bigger Stellers and White Tailed Eagles). The above photo was taken with a 1.4 teleconverter as was this video.........

This video was cropped and downsized, for the full HD version go here.

I still haven't quite got the hang of liveview, this video with DSLR lark is tricky to master as is editing it on the PC.

To be honest the jury is still out on the 7D/100-400L combo when used with a teleconverter and I took it off, these shots below are without.

It was by the side of the road and attracted several folk with large expensive lenses. We spent part of the afternoon with 'dotetin' (blog linked on the right) and although the Hawk Eagle was the top bird on show today the usual stuff was still around. Not many BIFs today...........here is an adult Stellers Sea Eagle in a tree instead.

As you can see we finally had some decent weather, after a whole month with only a couple of half days with blue skies.

I got several blurry out of focus shots of Crested Kingfisher, other stuff upstream included White Tailed Eagle, Jay, Brown Dipper, Japanese Wagtail, Goldeneye, Whooper Swan and Goosander.

Lots of Rooks around today. Near Onuma, just outside Yakumo and this one in a supermarket car park in Hakodate.

Rooks are a scarce winter visitor in northern Japan.

After Yakumo we headed up to Oshamanbe and the Long Tailed Ducks (well 3 of them) were in the harbour.

Other ducks in the harbour included several Wigeon. One of the drakes had a green crescent on its head, was this a hybrid with an American Wigeon? I didn't get a decent shot of it, it looked just like a regular Wigeon otherwise............

Lots of Goldeneye and Scaup..........

Lots of Glaucous and Glaucous Winged Gulls around, here's an adult Glaucous Gull.

The weather took a turn for the worse and sleet turned to snow on the drive home. The forecast for next week is very bad, well below zero all week and more snow so we got really lucky this morning........

I got drunk and fell asleep on the sofa watching Liverpool v Bolton last night. i'll stay up late tonight to watch the Man U v Arsenal game. A tough one to decide who I want to win, I dislike them both.............but I'd rather a northern team with a few English players won tonight's game. Having said that I'll despair if Man U win the league again (god that means I hope Chelsea do it).


29 January 2010

Grey January continues.........

The crappy weather continues. After the blizzards came rain which then froze everywhere, not much birding done. The above White Wagtail was on the coast, I'd walked down there this morning looking for Asian Rosy Finches (no luck). A Buff Bellied Pipit was around but not much else.

This immature Glaucous Winged Gull was amongst the predominately Slaty Backeds.......

Several of the local subspecies of Common Gull were present too.........

I was hoping to find the Thayers Gull which had visited the previous 4 winters but this winter it hasn't appeared..........

A few raptors flew over this week (and always before I could get my camera out), these included Merlin, White Tailed Eagle and Peregrine. Otherwise, not much to report, still no Waxwings in town.

Hakodate City is 'improving' the river near my flat. They're digging up stuff and cutting down yet more trees. It appears to be a 100 meter or so walkway that starts nowhere and ends nowhere. Hakodate is very very heavily in debt. They are using money they don't have to build something they don't need (actually this pretty much sums up postwar government spending here). 

The trees and bushes they've cut down recently used to look nice, they included a beautiful old weeping willow. Now we will have a concrete pathway that doesn't go anywhere. I got my first Siberian Rubythroat in those trees and bushes as well as Wrynecks and all kinds of migrants. Oriental Reed Warblers nested there, Night Herons roosted there. What a waste of time and money for something that makes the area worse not better.

Some Japanese, especially those in positions of power,  appear to love concrete. It's everywhere and is winning the battle with grass and trees for ground space. I'm sure there is a big government office in Tokyo with a map of Japan slowly turning from green to grey with a lots of old men in grey suits from the concrete ministry sagely nodding their heads and saying 'one day one day there won't be any green on that map and our work will have been completed'.


28 January 2010

On this day (January 28th)....................

Merlin on a wire

January 28th 2008.

A male Merlin on the outskirts of Hakodate, just before sunset. This is a winter visitor in small numbers. They favour the snow covered ricefields in Ono and Nanae but I've also seen them in town, on one occasion I saw a female from my living room window.

They like perching on wires and fenceposts and have a canny ability to fly off the second before the camera's AF locks on.


26 January 2010

Well no Waxwings yet...............

I caught a cold at the end of last week so today was my first venture outside the apartment for over 3 whole days.................I was hoping for a nice flock of Waxwings but there weren't any to be seen. A blizzard hit around lunchtime and this Great Egret was difficult to see in it, the camera did a better job than I did.......

It was a complete whiteout, not the best conditions to shoot a white bird with........

Not much else around, just this Grey Heron and Daurian Redstart..................

A word of advice to those who feel like they're just starting a cold: don't dismiss the warning signs in your nose/throat and go on to drink the equivalent of 6 or 7 pints of strong lager and expect to feel like you want to live the next morning.


23 January 2010

On this day (January 23rd)....................

January 23rd 2008.

Female Black Woodpecker at Onuma.

I had to wade trough deep snow and walk over a frozen pond to get this shot. This must have been her roosting hole, I could hear her mewing away in the distance and eventually found her just before sunset.................


22 January 2010

F***ing Freezing

A male Daurian Redstart on the river near my flat this morning.

It's been very cold the last couple of days, the mild weather lasted only a few hours and melted all the slush which of course then refroze meaning it's very tricky to walk around town even with my spikes strapped on to my boots.

Not many birds around. I looked for the Pallas Rosefinch yesterday but the park has been engulfed in yet more pointless construction work. They're even doing something on the river too. When I see groups of men in grey overalls and white hardhats appear I know 2 things will happen.

1. Lots of noise.
2. Lots of public money wasted.

Still no Waxwings. In 7 of the last 8 winters they've visited Hakodate and on 6 of those occasions they appeared in the 3rd or 4th week of January...................so they may arrive next week I guess.

Liverpool beat Spurs, I was surprised by that...............

'Gary Neville is a boot-licking moron!' Haha! Carlos Tevez may not understand much English but he understands people............


On this day (January 22nd)....................

January 22nd 2009.

Great Egret at Onuma. This individual found an unfrozen corner of Onuma to spend the winter in and lost its shyness as the winter progressed.

This is a winter visitor and passage migrant to the region and sometimes occurs in small groups or even large flocks. A bit odd to see it in a snowy landscape though..............


21 January 2010

On this day (January 21st)....................

January 21st 2009.

Slavonian Grebe at Oshamanbe. These are fairly common winter visitors and are often seen bobbing around way offshore. This individual was in the harbour at Oshamanbe and posed briefly for the camera.

I find grebes tricky to ID when they're out on the sea and i'm peering through my scope in the teeth of a winter gale. All 5 species present in the UK are also present in Hokkaido.


20 January 2010

A lifer

OK it's a totally crap photo but it does show a Pallas Rosefinch, a new bird for me. It was flapping around in the snow and slush in Goryokaku Park this afternoon.

Not much else around this week, mild weather today temporarily turned the snow and ice into slush. Long Tailed Rosefinch, Sparrowhawk plus lots of Dusky Thrush and Hawfinch were the other noteworthy species. I've spent the last 3 days trudging around town in a vain search for Waxwings, all to no avail.

Dark gloomy weather meant poor photos so not much to post today.

I heard some scumbag mugged my gran in Blackpool yesterday. Well, Mr Mugger-Junkie,  I hoped my poor 85 year old gran's pension got you enough smack to get high so you can forget your miserable worthless pointless empty life for a few hours, you pathetic piece of s**t.  My gran only got bruised thank god, hope karma bites the mugger on the ass with something a lot more severe than that.


17 January 2010

A lot below zero

An adult White Tailed Eagle at Yakumo this morning..........

Well last night was extremely cold and south Hokkaido was as wintry as I've seen it for a long long time. Deep deep snow and scarily icy roads were the order of the day as we drove up to Yakumo on the morning. The eagles were the same as last week although today's weather wasn't as good.

This young Stellers Sea Eagle was eating a salmon in a tree and after it finished it relieved itself in spectacular fashion.

Immature Stellers are much more attractive than the raggedy immature White Taileds..........toilet habits aside.

I got some more BIF shots but not as good as last week..............

Again, lots of birders around including 2 people linked on the right ('Dotetin' and Kim aka 'Sepak in Hakodate'). Because of my wife's job we only get to Yakumo at the weekends these days, in previous years we could go weekdays and pretty much have the eagles to ourselves. Not that I'm greedy or anything of course.

Not much else in the river valley, here's a male White Backed Woodpecker and a Common Buzzard being bugged by the local crows..........

We checked the river mouth and I was amazed to see the river was almost completely frozen, I've never seen this before...........

Not many birds about here of course. Offshore there were several species of duck, a few Great Crested and Red Necked Grebes and a lone Brent Goose. Lots of Glaucous and Glaucous Winged Gulls, here's one of the latter........

We got to Onuma just before sunset. A brief view of a Black Woodpecker was the highlight here. It was pretty dark by now, here a couple of high ISO shots with the lens wide open and the flash on.

I got back just in time to hear England capitulate in the cricket (what a weak end to the series that was). I watched 2 things last night. First up was 'The Road' and second up was Stoke v Liverpool. The former (a rather grim post-apocalyptic drama) was probably less depressing than the latter (Liverpool's second string throwing away 2 points in the last minute).

Still, before they began  I would have settled for 1-1 in both the cricket and last night's footy so maybe it isn't all that bad.

This upcoming week should be the week when the Waxwings come to town.............


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