12 January 2011


A bit of an influx of Waxwings into the region, they're everywhere. I've seen at least 5 separate flocks but none were approachable. Almost all seem to be Japanese Waxwings. I did manage to fire off a few shots today but it was snowing very heavily and the light was just awful.

I couldn't focus at all due to the darkness and the blizzard like conditions so I used my 'BIF' custom settings which resulted in fast shutter speeds but massively underexposed images. I brightened them up (a lot) on the computer and although blurry and grainy I quite like the results...........

The one with the yellow tip to its tail is a Bohemian Waxwing. Usually this is the commoner one but not this winter..........

A lot of snow these last few days and it brought with it a few winter birds...........and a crappy birdscape photo opp.

Part of a very skittish flock of Brambling. Other small birds in town this week have been Hawfinch, Long Tailed Rosefinch, Bullfinch, Brown Dipper as well as the usual winter stuff like Daurian Redstart and Dusky Thrush as well as resident species like Coal, Great and Varied Tit. Teal and Tufted Duck share the mostly frozen river with a couple of Grey Heron and a Peregrine was a nice flyover bird yesterday. Surprise of the week was a pair of Oriental Turtle Dove: usually they're well gone before the snow comes............

I had a very quick look at Kamiso a couple of days ago. Scaup, Goosander, Wigeon, Goldeneye and Whooper Swan were present. At Onuma there wasn't much at all except the Tits and Nuthatches.

This is the Hokkaido race of the common Eurasian Nuthatch, the same species I was seeing back in Penwortham just last week. The ones in Penwortham are a bit more colourful though.

And UK Great Tits are more colourful than the ones out here too..........

I think there were several Marsh and Willow Tits. Both species occur in Hokkaido but I always assumed Marsh were much commoner.  Most of them at Onuma seem to be Marsh Tits but to be honest I don't look too closely at all of them. Unlike Europe call is not a reliable way to ID these 2 species in east Asia. I have noticed some bullying others, I read somewhere that Marsh Tits are dominant over Willow Tits. These 2 don't seem to have such glossy caps............

Sunshine has been a rarity recently but for a few minutes the other day the skies cleared and illuminated the mountain at Onuma..............

All the dark gloomy light recently reminds me of the UK. Here are some shots from last week in Preston of the wintering Iceland Gull. It was very active but it was late in the day and very dark indeed.

A very nice bird to see, don't think I'll ever see one here although we do sometimes get the closely related Thayers Gull.

I got some very dark BIF shots on my last evening in Preston............

I can't work out how to position these small thumbnail photos...............they're not aligned, I know I know.

Hopefully the snow will relent and I can find some more Waxwings tomorrow........

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



  1. So you finally got the waxwings ;-) Cool, you are lucky to get two psecies man, and I would love to see the Japanese one! It looks more colorful than the Bohemian!!! I love the pictures with the snow flakes, it gives a beautiful atmosphere to the shot... I'd like to get snow over here to get it around the bird too ;-) The nuthatch and tits pictures are beautiful....

  2. Nice landscape shot of Onuma! This year seems to be really good for waxwings, not around my place though. Hope you'll get better weather soon. It looks really scary. I can't imagine myself being out there taking photos of bird in that dark snow blizzard.

  3. Lovely Waxwing shots, maybe not technically perfect but very atmospheric.

  4. Masterful job on the waxwings. They make an excellent winter scene.

  5. You're right about the Waxwing shots Stu- very artistic. So pleased you took the snow back with you and I still haven't been for the IG.

  6. Hey Stu,
    I am over at Furano skiing and went out birding today. I found your site looking to ID some birds I saw today. Great stuff, mate.


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