28 November 2010

Painkillers on a dark day

A Varied Tit at Onuma this afternoon. It was a dark dark day with driving wet snow but a trip to the hospital a couple of days ago at least resulted in painkillers that seem to have taken the edge off my limp. Slightly.

They're pretty tame, as you can see.

Not much around except the resident woodland birds, I spent half an hour watching a flock of Long Tailed Tits, these are much harder to catch in a nice pose and they aren't like the Varied Tits which behave like pets.

The northern race is very cute it has to be said.

So a real crappy week comes to an end, I have to endure yet more construction noise from tomorrow (the house next door enters its seventh month of construction, the building to the rear of my flat is being pulled down leading to god knows what future noise and oh yeah for no apparent reason other than using up its' budgets  Hakodate f***ing City hall is gonna spend 4 months fixing the b****rd road in front of my flat from next month) and I also have to go back to hospital in a few days too.

At least I can escape to the UK for a while from the middle of December. I'll be jaded, bitter, angry and frazzled inside but serene on the outside as you can see from this pic my wife took of me this afternoon.

Looks like England will manage to save the First Test, I spent most of the second day following the commentary on cricinfo on my cellphone as I waited in various waiting rooms scattered across one of the local hospitals........

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27 November 2010

2010 Best of #1

Stellers Sea Eagle

Stellers Sea Eagle

I'm bored and housebound for the second time this year. I've herniated a disc in my lower spine and can't walk any distance, dunno why or how exactly but years of poor posture and latterly hunching over a computer and also carrying 2.5Kg of camera gear over my shoulder several times a week for the last 3 of those years probably haven't helped.  So whilst I sit here listening to the construction noise outside cursing sciatica, noisy men with hardhats and life in general I've sorted out some photos from the first part of the year.

Stellers Sea Eagle

January 2010 was a good month in Yakumo for both species of Sea Eagle and I got some OK BIF shots compared to previous years................thanks to the 7D for that.

The above two are Stellers Sea Eagles and the following two are White Tailed Eagles.


White Tailed Eagle

Here's one in a tree.

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It was a good winter for eagles, much better than the previous one due to the large numbers of salmon.

In amongst the Sea Eagles this Mountain Hawk Eagle at the end of the month was a nice find..........

This individual attracted quite a kot of attention. We found it and another photographer stopped, looked and thought it was just a Black Kite (!). He was about to drive off when I told him what it was. This is quite a scarce bird in Hokkaido and was only the second one I'd ever seen. Unlike the other eagles this one was not harassed by crows, looking at those talons I can see why.

Mountain Hawk Eagle

The Long Tailed Ducks provided nice photo opps at Oshamanbe.

Long Tailed Duck

As did the local Brent Geese in Hakodate..............

Brent Goose

Small birds were thin on the ground in what proved to be a very cold winter. I did manage to get some nice shots of Daurian Redstart at last though.........

Daurian Redstart

There were no Waxwings at all in early 2010 and also no winter finches. Not a single Crossbill, Asian Rosy Finch or even Siskins or Redpolls. Only Hawfinches............


The tame Tits and Nuthatches at Onuma were around for the third winter running.

Eurasian Nuthatch

Varied Tit

The slow winter for passerines was compensated for by some great birding in the local harbours in Hakodate in March and early April. Both Black Throated and Red Throated Divers were around.

Black Throated Diver

Red Throated Diver

And lots and lots of Black Necked Grebes too..........coming into summer plumage too.

Black Necked Grebe

Black Necked Grebe

And quite a few Red Necked Grebes also put in an appearance...........

Red Necked Grebe

And how cute are Ancient Murrelets?

Ancient Murrelet

Spring began with a nice scarcity right near my apartment with this Hoopoe..........


Plus the returning Night Herons on the local river.

Black Crowned Night Heron

Common migrants in the bushes in town included Red Flanked Bluetail and Eastern Crowned Warbler, both birds I seem incapable of taking a decent shot of...........

Red Flanked Bluetail.

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And waders on the local beaches included Whimbrel..........


Overshoot migrants included this Intermediate Egret at Onuma.

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The usual colourful summer migrants arrived, my fave has to be the Narcissus Flycatcher, an abundant summer visitor to Onuma.

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Nearer home the Red Cheeked Starlings looked great in among the cherry blossoms.

Red Cheeked Starling

Red Cheeked Starling

The Oriental Reed Warblers returned in mid May to set up shop along the river...........

Oriental Reed Warbler

And at the same time the Siberian Stonechats were arriving in the padis.............

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Part 2 to follow soon.................unless my back miraculously heals in the next few days and I can get out and take some new photos.

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25 November 2010

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

Varied Tit

November 25th 2007.

A Varied Tit, one of the tame ones at Onuma.

I got my lens 3 years ago today, actually it was only lent to me at first but I ended up buying it several months later. This was the first real shot I took with it and this Nuthatch was just a few clicks later.......

Eurasian Nuthatch

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23 November 2010

Oh No

A Great Egret near Kikonai this afternoon. Winter birds are arriving, Black Scoter and other ducks on the sea, lots of Gulls everywhere...........

I was surprised to see this female Pheasant cowering in the bushes near my apartment.

On Sunday I went to Yakumo with a Japanese friend and there were plenty of eagles, they were pretty skittish though and stayed up high. Here's an immature White Tailed followed by an adult and then immature Stellers Sea Eagle.

It was in the car after taking these photos that I began to experience excruciating pain down my legs. I seem to have a herniated disk meaning I have back pain and the pinched nerve has seized up my calf muscles meaning I can hardly walk. I think it's called sciatica, a term I was unfamiliar with until Sunday evening. My wife drove me around a little this afternoon and I hobbled a couple of hundred meters on Monday to see if there were any Waxwings around near my flat (there weren't). It took me 10 minutes to complete a walk I'd normally do in about 90 seconds.

Forgive me but I'm not feeling very positive at the moment. An expensive trip to the hospital beckons in the next 2 or 3 days (followed no doubt by an online fight with my insurance company as they try to pay as little as possible) and a long plane flight with a bad back and not being able to walk properly when I go back to the UK isn't filling me with mirth either. Throw in some money worries into the mix too. The construction noise means I can't even relax in peace at home. 

A bit of a downer but I know most of my visitors to this blog are Japanese and don't (or can't) even read what I say, for those that do I apologise for my whining, hopefully things will look up soon. In the meantime I don't think I'll be able to do much birding at all.
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