30 April 2011

A few migrants appearing.......

Part of a flock of White Fronted Geese in a roadside field at Yakumo yesterday.

I still haven't really figured out BIF flock shots yet.

The nasty weather continues but there have been a couple of brief sunny interludes. This morning I got up early and saw my first Eastern Crowned Warbler and Red Cheeked Starlings of the year. Crossbill (a lone male), Hawfinch, Brambling, Dusky Thrush and Teal still remain near my apartment. Yesterday's birds included Glaucous Gull, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Osprey, Great Egret, Reed Bunting, Scaup, Red Breasted Merganser, Wigeon, Pintail, Goosander and lots and lots of Siberian Stonechat.

They always fly off just as I'm about to press the shutter.

I think I've worked out what set off my herniated disk/nerve pains again. Last Friday when I was looking for the White Winged Crossbills I had an urgent call of nature, the only handy toilet was a traditional style squatter, I think I twisted something as I hunkered down.

Another reason to hate those type of toilets. I haven't met a single Japanese person who prefers them. Usually I avoid them but this was an 'any port in a storm' situation. Japan has more pressing problems now I know but the next PM should consider a nationwide upgrading of public toilets.

I mean you can't even check the news on your cellphone whilst using them.

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27 April 2011

On this day (April 28th)

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April 28th 2009.

Actually a day early but this week has been so uneventful I have literally nothing to post.........

The above pic shows a Japanese White-eye in the cherry blossoms near my flat 2 years ago. It must have been a warmer spring 2 years ago as the cherry blossoms are nowhere near open yet in 2011.

This has been a very quiet last week or so: cold wet weather, a busy schedule and ongoing nerve pains as a result of my slipped disk has meant very little action. I've had a couple of brief excursions but only Dusky Thrush, Hawfinch and Bullheaded Shrike are around. There were some Brambling around a few days ago and I had a brief fleeting glimpse of an odd looking bird from my window last weekend, it could have been a Woodcock. Or perhaps just a pigeon being weird.

2 years ago on this day there were lots of stuff around right near my flat, not only the White-eyes but also this Short Tailed Bush Warbler, not a bird I often get to photograph.

Short Tailed Bush Warbler

And this female Red Flanked Bluetail too.........

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Unfortunately a lot of the trees and bushes along the river where I took the above 2 shots have gone as Hakodate City Hall have 'improved' the river (I wish they had picked up all the festering garbage at the same time). There really haven't been any migrants so far this spring in the handful of trees and bushes that have escaped the chainsaws.

On the same day 2 years ago there were a couple of very tame Crossbills in the park.

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This one is uncropped.

Common Crossbill

Lots of stuff around 2 years ago but SFA around now, at least near my apartment.

I hope the weather improves soon, I have several days off coming up........

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22 April 2011

First lifer of 2011

It's a lousy heavily cropped photo but it shows a male White Winged Crossbill this morning, part of a flock of 10 birds (at least one I think was a normal Crossbill). I guess you could say I twitched it as I'd heard they were present and decided to take a look myself.

This is a new bird for me although I've had a few 'maybes' of this species before.

This was in an area about 40 minutes walk from my apartment. It's in a nice quiet part of town and was a peaceful place to wander around in. Shortly after I arrived I saw Osamu who had found the crossbills a couple of days ago, he was with 4 friends and they said the crossbills had just flown off!

I waited another hour or so and heard their calls, the flock was fairly mobile and stayed up in the trees, it was impossible to get a good shot.

There were other birds around too. Siskin, lots of Coal Tit, Great Spotted and Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers..............

It then started raining so I set off home, unfortunately the nerve pain from my herniated disk made a return so it was a long wet rather uncomfortable hobble through the rain..............but at least I saw the White Winged Crossbills.

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20 April 2011

A grey Wednesday

It's been a grey cold week so far in south Hokkaido. There are a still a few Crossbill around, this male was one of a group of  half a dozen in Goryokaku park this afternoon.

There were 40 or so Brambling and a few Hawfinch but they were very shy.

Dusky Thrush are always very common at this time of year, there were lots in the park this afternoon.

A few White Wagtail remain in winter but generally it is an abundant summer visitor, they are everywhere at the moment.

The first Swallows of spring were skimming over the moat with a few Asian House Martin. The last couple of days has seen a few Bullheaded Shrike, Daurian Redstart and Japanese Bush Warbler pass through and today I saw the first Siberian Stonechat of the year too.

Why are all the decent footy games on at inconvenient times this season? Spurs v Arsenal tonight looks like it'll be a very interesting game but I'm not getting up at 3.45am to watch it, the only game I could catch last Saturday was West Brom v Chelsea for christs sake.

The city elections are at the weekend, like I said in a previous post electioneering here consists of candidates driving slowly around town hysterically bellowing slogans with their 'supporters' (usually the local equivalent of dumb blondes) waving and smiling out of the windows.

At least I don't have to put up with a Royal Wedding (although you'll at least get a day off work).

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19 April 2011

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

Black Woodpecker

April 19th 2009.

Female Black Woodpecker at Onuma.

One of the star birds of Hokkaido, this species can regularly be seen in Onuma. This female was checking out a nesting hole............

If you've been following my blog you'll know I've seen them several times this spring, and last spring too but the only time I could get nice shots of this species was this day 2 years ago and one day the previous spring.......

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17 April 2011

Owl in a hole

A Ural Owl at Ouma this afternoon. It was also in the same place in the morning too.

There were 2 or 3 people taking pictures of it in the morning but when we returned in the afternoon there was one very large car inside of which sat a grumpy looking oldish man with a big lens. He was parked right in front of the Owl (which was about 10 metres or so off the road). The Owl is tolerant of people as long as they stay on the road. Knowing this I got out of the car and took a couple of photos, the light was good. The old man then shouted at me, telling me I had to get back in our car to take pictures. I was somewhat taken aback (surely the shouting was more intrusive to the Owl than my quietly taking a few pictures but anyway). 

There are times like this when I really wish I could speak more fluent Japanese. I would have loved to have been able to say 'who the f**k are you, the f**king Owl police?' but I was restricted to 'anato no fukueo desuka?' which means 'is it your Owl?'. Sarcasm loses everything in translation. Actually I should have walked in front of his car and stood in front of his camera. Or maybe I should have said 'sshhhhhhhhhh. don't shout, there's an Owl in that tree over there'.

I tried experimenting a bit with auto ISO today, here are some of the results from ISO 100 to ISO 3200.........

The Glaucous Gull was near Oshamanbe, the Tits and Nuthatches were at Onuma.

It was a bit of a frustrating day, some nice birds but not many nice shots. There were several Eastern Marsh Harriers near Oshamanbe but I could only get this crappy record shot.

Back at Onuma the Black Woodpeckers and Mandarin Ducks were around but again no chance for a keeper.

It was sunny but very windy today, and the wind was cold. Here are some sheltering Dunlin at one of the ports near Oshamanbe.

On Friday I got up early to check if the Crossbills were still in the park, they were but only high up in the trees. The Siskin and Brambling were still there too. I then did the long walk down the river, along the beach and into the forest at the foot of Mt Hakodate. The first singing Japanese Bush Warbler of the spring were there as were the common resident Woodpeckers, Tits and Nuthatches. There were some Red Necked Grebes on the sea and a group of 30 or so Common Buzzard on their way north. No decent photos of any of them though.

So do I hope Liverpool lose tonight meaning Arsenal can close the gap on Man Utd? Hmmmmmmmm.

Here's a view from Onuma at the end of the day. Nice and peaceful but I was still fuming about being shouted at by some stupid old oyaji.

I hope the Owl flew at him and scratched the front of his lens.

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13 April 2011

Garganey, #250

This drake Garganey was a nice find on the small river near my apartment. It was my first one in Japan and brings my Japan list up to 250 (you can see how little I travel around though by the fact my Hakodate list is now at 201, more than 80%).

The river is very unattractive at the moment, lots of trees and vegaetation have been cut back as the city 'improves' the river and my god there is a lot of garbage. Several TVs, 2 or 3 VCRs, lots of tires, countless plastic bottle and cans.

Surprisingly there are quite a lot of fish. Oh and a male Garganey.........

It was hanging around with the local Teals and Spotbills.

It was pretty wary though and spent some time hiding in the grass.......

I've seen a couple in the UK but the last was almost 20 years ago. I think they are a little scarce in Japan, I don't often see them posted on the local blogs anyway.

The Brambling and Siskin were still around today, as were Dusky Thrush, Daurian Redstart and Hawfinch. 2 days ago the 3 Pochard in Goryokaku park were joined by a 4th and the Crossbills were still present but high up in the trees.

The first Asian House Martin was also around on the 11th, spring in south Hokkaido is well underway, I heard the first singing Black Faced Bunting of the season this afternoon too.

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10 April 2011

Spring 2011 continues..........

A male Crossbill this afternoon in a small patch of pine trees next to one of the harbours at Oshanambe. It was a productive stop, I got this shot of an Osprey there too.

My father-in-law informed me the fish is an 'akahara' (redbelly) which is apparently almost inedible to humans, I hope baby Ospreys are less fussy.

Another nice spring day saw us start off in Onuma. The Black Woodpeckers were active but difficult to get close to, it looks like they may be nesting in the middle of a swampy patch which should ensure privacy from prying lenses. This crappy record shot of the female was the best was the best I could manage.

There were still plenty of Whooper Swans plus all the usual residents, the Nuthatches are starting to look a bit scruffy............

Other stuff at Onuma included Siskin, Mandarin Duck, Goosander, Great Egret, Japanese Grosbeak etc.......

Lots of common ducks everywhere including large flocks of Pintail and Wigeon at Yakumo and Oshamanbe, Shoveler, Harlequin Duck and Black Scoter, lots of summer plumage Great Crested Grebes.

Today was definitely a BIF day. This Osprey was at Yakumo.

There seemed to be lots of raptors on the move, this was one of several Sparrowhawks.......

The 7D is a great BIF camera.........

The Crossbills were a nice find, they were sharing the trees with a flock of Siskin. They were very flighty although this male stuck around long enough for a few shots...........

We had a quick look at some of the wetlands but these don't really get interesting until mid to late May. The only birds here were lots of Skylark and a few Reed Bunting.

On Friday I went back to Goryokaku Park to see if the Crossbills were still there. They were but not close enough for a picture. The Brambling, Hawfinch and Siskin flocks were also around as were the 3 Pochard. A Peregrine was a good flyover bird. The only photos I took though were of this rather tame male Grey Headed Woodpecker.

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