16 May 2011

A weekend away in May

Some Red Necked Pharalope seen on the Tomakomai pelagic trip yesterday.

A Pacific Diver in sumer plumage, we saw several of these including one fairly close to the boat, close enough for us to hear its eerie call above the sound of the wind and waves.

It was a good say for alcids. Two of those we saw were lifers...........the bird of the day for most on the boat was this Long Billed Murrelet, here's a very heavily cropped record shot.

Most of the photos are pretty heavily cropped actually. There were also lots of Brunnichs Guillemots, some in full summer plumage, some not. This was another new bird for me.

Quite a few Ancient Murrelets were around too but the commonest alcid of the day was Rhinoceros Auklet.

My 'target' bird (at least for photos) was Red Necked Pharalope, there were some around but not the vast flocks I had been hoping for.

It was very difficult (for me at least) to photograph them from the boat. The sea was a little choppy and the movement up and down of the boat and waves combined with a narrow filed of view between the people sat in front of me made it really hard ro get a lock on the birds. I'm not really familiar with photography from a ship and I am also very unsteady on my feet on a small boat................

Still it was great to see such a beautiful bird up close.........

BIF shots were slightly easier.

They seem to have found something tasty near this buoy..........

It was a long day (7 hours on a fairly small boat) but an enjoyable one. No Albatross, Skuas or Terns but we did see a few Short Tailed Shearwater. One of the people on the boat was Mark Brazil, a well- known Hokkaido based birder and author of several books about birds in Japan and east Asia, it was nice chatting to someone who really knows their stuff.

We had driven up to Tomakomai the day before, on the way we saw several roadside Lathams Snipe in Oshamanbe.

I tried to take a video..............

On the beach there were some waders. Ruddy Turnstone, lots of Grey Tailed Tattlers, Common Sandpiper and some Red Necked Stint, the latter were coming into summer plumage.

I was very surprised to see 3 Yellow Wagtail with the stints. Again, heavy cropping going on here..............

Yellow Wagtails are pretty scarce in Japan, one subspecies breeds in north Hokkaido. This one is a different subspecies to that  however, it has a blue head as you can see (the Hokkaido one doesn't).

Other birds seen on the way included Pacific Swift, Osprey and some of Tomakomai's famous Magpies.

This ia another scarce bird in Japan and is normally only seen in the south (it is abundant in Korea however). 20 or so years ago they appeared in Tomakomai, a bit of a mystery there......

I pottered around in Utonai-ko on Saturday afternoon. Eastern Crowned Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat, Brown Thrush, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Lathams Snipe, Oriental Cuckoo, Wigeon, Pintail, Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, White Tailed Eagle, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Long Tailed Rosefinch, Reed Bunting, Great Spotted and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Russet Sparrow were around but nothing posed for the camera.........

Thanks again for Tomoyuki Namba for arranging the boat trip, I hope to join them again 2 or 3 times this year.........

Thanks also to my wife for doing a lot of driving.

There were some issues on blogger last week, I couldn't log in or do anything for a while and it appears some comments have disappeared too (if you left any comments last Thursday/Friday they seem to have vanished).

Thanks for clicking this link.



  1. Looks like a super trip and nice collection of photos. Good work with IDs. I did a whale watch in Oz for 7 hours juggling my camera. I hope you can walk straight by now.

  2. Hi Russell, I'm afraid to say most of the IDing was being done by much more able birders than me..........

  3. Looks like a great pelagic trip Stu with a good mix of species we couldn't replicate over here. Look out for those Magpies, up to no good over there too I'll wager.

  4. Stopped by for a peek. Enjoyed the post.

  5. That's a lot of great images! I love the Pacific Diver images the most ;) The snipe is pretty cool to ;)


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