30 June 2010

Slow time approaching.........

A female Red Cheeked Starling in the bushes along the river this afternoon. The young have left the nests and large noisy groups of them were everywhere.

I have no idea where they find these cherries, someone's garden is being pilfered I guess.

I didn't get any decent shots of juveniles, they were all hidden in the undergrowth. The adults were more co-operative however.

So now the slow time is approaching.  Most birds will stop singing soon and concentrate on raising their young. From about the second week in July there won't be much to see or photograph until the waders start to pass through in mid August. A Night Heron or two on the river perhaps but that's about all....................

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28 June 2010

Well F****** Hell

Excuse my filthy language and cusswords.

Just watched England get thrashed 4-1. Oh dear. What a f***ing downer. 

Still, FWIW I got some nice Black Browed Reed Warbler shots today.

Actually I'm almost glad it was 4-1 or else we'd be debating Lampard's 'goal' for years to come.

I swore a lot during the came and called Klose a 'weasel faced German c**t' after the first goal, that had my wife scratching her head.

Until Germany's 3rd goal I thought we still had a good chance although I fully admit Germany looked a different class for about 75% of the game.

This pic was with a 1.4 T/C.

And here's a video I took, also with the 1.4 T/C.

Why is football always so disappointing?

Maybe I should stop caring about such trivial nonsense. I promise football will not be mentioned on this blog for a long long time.

I found a place where Japanese Green Pigeons come down to drink seawater.

I will return here again to get a decent shot of what is quite a stunning bird.

The lotus are out at Onuma, here's a photo of one I played around with in Photoshop.

It was really hot today, summer has arrived.

So think of me going to bed drunk and bitterly disappointed and sure to be woken up by construction work at 8am tomorrow. 

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26 June 2010

The Sound of Summer

The sound of a Hokkaido summer.

No it's not that Black Faced Bunting above. It's this, right outside my apartment for 10 hours a day.

I think I'd prefer to live next door to a vuvuzela testing facility, it'd be more peaceful.

Japanese construction workers head my list of least favourite people at the moment.

There's an election next month so that means morons will drive around the neighborhood blasting out propaganda soon too. Nice. Sometimes I question why I live here.

It was very warm today and I headed out to escape the racket. Not much around to be honest. the most noticeable species was Red Cheeked Starling. The young have left the nest and small family groups of them are everywhere..................

This male seemed to have found a cherry tree somewhere.......

So England made it to the 2nd Round, I had my doubts but thought they looked OK against the might of Slovenia. At least our potential route to the final (!) involves two 11pm kick offs....................

So think of me on Sunday, on the other side of the world. slightly drunk and screaming impotently at a TV. And say a prayer or two for England's wobbly progress to continue.

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25 June 2010

On this day (June 25th)....................

June 25th 2008.

Little Ringed Plover at Kikonai. This is a common summer visitor and can be seen in suitable habitat across the whole of south Hokkaido: it and Common Sandpiper are pretty much the only locally breeding waders in these here parts...........


22 June 2010

Midsummer Warblers

One of many Black Browed Reed Warblers a couple of days ago. They are a very common summer visitor and can be heard in pretty much any areas of uncut grassland in summer.

Here is one singing.

Click on the video when it starts playing for the full HD version. I used the 1.4 teleconverter for most videos these days, on the 100-400 a t/c is crap for photos but works rather well on video........

The bird you can hear singing in the background is a Grays Grasshopper Warbler, one of the most secretive birds I've ever come across. I did manage to get a couple of brief glimpses today but the chances of even a record shot would seem to be impossible.

It was very overcast, the photos of the same singing bird as above weren't so great.

The grasslands were alive with birds yet again. One common bird I have yet to take a decent shot of is Long Tailed Rosefinch. They seem very shy and fly off before I can ever get in range for a shot, even from the car window. I have to make do with 'bird in landscape' pics like this one.

This very scraggly looking Red Fox was hanging around, not at all tame like the ones at Onuma. I hope it looks this way because it's moulting and not sick...........

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Fingers crossed for tomorrow night.........

21 June 2010

Midsummer Snipes

A Lathams Snipe next to a busy road yesterday. Route 5, the main road north out of Hakodate, is in places flanked by grassland and scrub and in these areas the Snipes are very common at this time of year.

I managed to take some short handheld video clips from the car window..........

You can see the full HD version if you click on the video.

There were 3 together doing their crazy display flights in this particular location but other individuals were everywhere..........

This is a typical view of one in the grasslands.......

In Ono the Stonechats have left the nest............

It was an overcast day yesterday, I was on ISO 800 most of the time.

 We saw more stuff further north but I'll post that tomorrow............

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England at the World Cup. Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I never fall for the usual pre-tournament hype (why the hell did Capello say anything less than the final would be a failure?) but in my darkest dreams I never expected them to be as bad as they were against Algeria. Carragher strolling to halfway, passing sideways to Terry who punts it back to James who hoofs it up to Heskey who doesn't get anywhere near it and Algeria get it back. How many times did that happen last Friday?

Having said that France are in an even worse situation and Italy/Germany/Spain aren't doing that great either. What's happening?

The construction work started next door, hammers are hammering, saws are sawing and drills are drilling. And England are torturing me in the small hours. It must be summer.

19 June 2010

On this day (June 19th)....................

June 19th 2009.

A Bullheaded Shrike doing in a Tree Sparrow on the river near my apartment last year.

It was nice to capture such a dramatic moment, I managed to fire off half a dozen shots. A few minutes later I saw the Shrike with a the bloodied head of the Sparrow in its beak, weird to think how such a small bird can be such a killer. There are always 2 or 3 pairs of Shrike nesting in town alongside the local river, I guess they have mouths to feed and Tree Sparrow is on the menu.


18 June 2010

Summer begins

Hot muggy overcast summer weather arrived this week in Hakodate.

The Asian House Martins are still nestbuilding......

They don't mind getting mucky...........

Fairly quiet last week, I didn't get out much. Just the regular sumer birds about now anyway. The Oriental Reed Warblers are still singing.

Not much else around, Chestnut Eared and Black Faced Buntings, Red Cheeked Starlings. That's about it.

I just watched Serbia beating Germany (my god Germans miss penalties sometimes). After France and Spain both had nightmare results I feel a little better about England...............doesn't mean I'm not dreading tonight's game though. A couple of early goals in a 3-0 victory would be nice. Rooney (2) and Crouch (on as a sub) to score. Yes, that sounds good.

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16 June 2010

On this day (June 16th)....................

Bird fostering

June 16th 2008

A soon to be fledged Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by a Red Cheeked Starling at Onuma. Bit of an odd one here. The previous week the Starlings had been hanging around trying to feed the young Woodpeckers but the adults drove them off. A week later the Starlings had taken over feeding duties full-time. Why were they doing it? Perhaps the Woodpeckers had ousted them from the nesthole and the Starlings were feeding the young Woodpeckers out of parental instincts? A bit of a mystery.........

This story made the local newspaper (but not with my photos alas) and I even found my pictures of it on a Thai blog one time..........


13 June 2010

Siberian Stonechats

A male Siberian Stonechat blissfully unaware of the fact England's goalie dropped the ball in the back of the net a few hours before.

We spent the day in the ricefields just outside town, I was too tired after boozing rather heavily and staying up late to watch the footy.

Lots of common birds in the padis, Siberian Stonechats being the second commonest (after Skylarks). The young must have just left the nests and were down in the grass as the adults stayed put watching over them.

The males are particularly striking.

But the females are tamer...............

Also around were lots and lots of Chestnut Eared Buntings.

And quite a few Night Herons too...........

My fave summer visitor is the Black Browed Reed Warbler but all the singing ones we found weren't in convenient places to photograph. This was the best I could manage.

Other interesting stuff around included a couple of Kestrels, a Wryneck and an immature Kittiwake at the river mouth in Kamiso.

So I didn't think England played that badly. The doom and gloom on some of the broadsheet blogs (and gloating by ABE's) is so over the top hysterical I got tired of looking at them. So we learned that England aren't that fantastic as a team, several of the players aren't that great either and they don't have much chance of winning the tournament. Well duh...............

At least they didn't lose and if the ref had been looking for a bit of glory Carragher could easily have conceded a penalty and got sent off.

More torture lays ahead on Friday, watching England is never fun but not watching them in a World Cup would be even worse. TWO early goals this time please...............

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