31 July 2011

Things moving............

Usually the end of July is stinking hot but this year it hasn't been so bad. The end of July is generally the worst time for birding on south Hokkaido but at least things are starting to move. This Sand Martin was one of many on the grasslands near Oshamanbe, they must be a post breeding flock on its way south. It is my first photo of one, very tricky for a cack handed individual like me. The above was the best I could manage.

No waders around but whilst I was watching the Ospreys fishing at the river mouth in Yakumo I was surprised to see a Great Crested Grebe offshore in full breeding plumage, this species doesn't breed in Hokkaido. A lone Sooty Shearwater was blown quite close to shore too, it was pretty windy today.

Last week in Hakodate was a bit of a non event. Lots of young birds around, families of Oriental Reed Warbler being the most noticeable. Japanese Bush Warbler, more Grey Wagtail and Barn Swallow are starting to pass through. The last Chestnut Eared Bunting and Black Browed Reed Warbler were singing half heartedly too..........

I'll get back to the 3rd day of the rather engrossing topsy turvy second test..............

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27 July 2011

On this day (July 27th).........

July 27th 2007.

A young Ruddy Kingfisher just about to leave its nest 4 years ago in Onuma. In 2007 and 2008 this same tree played host to a family of this scarce visitor to Hokkaido, the tree was right next to the road and there was a scrum of photographers watching them all summer.

Put off by the aforementioned crowds I only went twice and on this day was lucky enough to see the young leave the nest for the first time. This was with my ancient digiscoping rig, most of the time it really wasn't up to the job for anything but record shots like this.

I haven't seen any since 2008, they must have relocated to a quieter nesthole.

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24 July 2011

More summer staples.........

An Osprey at Yakumo this afternoon, a nice end to a very very quiet week. There were at least 5 Ospreys around, presumably the parents and this year's fledgelings.

This one was nice and close and I was happy with these shots........

Usually my Osprey shots look like this, a tad boring.........

Not much else around here, a male Scaup, a few Goosander, a few Pacific Swift. At Shikabe later in the day it had gotten dark and cloudy, not ideal weather to take pic of the Green Pigeons.

Back in Hakodate I tried to find the Wrynecks from last week but nothing doing there. The odd Little Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Black Browed Reed Warbler and Chestnut Eared Bunting were still singing but I suspect next weekend will see not much singing at all.

Last week was birdless except for  a Kingfisher on the river and the first young Grey Wagtail of the summer (they breed further upstream).

I'm listening to the cricket, England are doing their best to throw away the 1st test, I knew Strauss should have allowed Pietersen to continue batting until close of play on Day 2, another 40 or 50 runs would have probably seen India following on and staring defeat in the face. Now England are 5 down with a lead of only 250 or so and I'm thinking India are as likely to win the game as us. Maybe Broad will get a 100 to go with his 4 wicket haul, you never know...........

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18 July 2011

OMG not again

A Wryneck on the edge of Hakodate this afternoon, it was part of a family, here's one of the young ones.

Regular readers of this blog may remember that my last 2 summers have been blighted by construction noise close to my apartment building. Well now it's going to be 3 summers running, this year it will be our actual apartment building. Actually it was looking a little tatty and now we have 4 or 5 weeks of painting and repairs to look forward to. Half the scaffolding was erected today (whilst we were out). the hottest time of the year and the whole building will be wrapped up in a nylon tarpaulin. At least this isn't so long and we'll get a nice new exterior but still another summer working to the sounds of hammering, drilling and shouting 6 or 7 days a week. FFS.

Stil lots of stuff singing, most of the common species were around this last 3 days. Chestnut Eared and Black Throated Bunting, Oriental and Black Browed Reed Warblers, Northern Hobby, Cuckoo, Brown Thrush, Night Heron, Lathams Snipe, Siberian Stonechat, Pacific Swift, Russet Sparrow etc............

This morning we stopped at Shikabe for a look at the Japanese Green Pigeons.

The only time they landed I wasn't paying attention and my settings were all wrong and they were well overexposed, I could rescue them a little on the computer though.

Offshore at Sawara there were lots of dolphins and at Onuma there wasn't much at all birdwise, here's a Red Fox instead.

Yesterday we went to Kikonai, I was hoping the Swinhoes Egret would still be around. It wasn't but there was this species.

A crappy record shot of an adult Striated Heron, fairly scarce up here. By the time I had walked down the river and crossed the bridge and walked back down the other side to get a closer view it had disappeared.

No waders passing through yet (well it is way too early although I have seen the odd ones in late July down the years) but the breeding Common Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers were both present. Oh and lots of Ospreys again.

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13 July 2011

Swinhoes Egret

A Kentish Plover on a beach near Esashi last Sunday, it seemed to be part of a family of 3. I wasn't even aware these bred on the local beaches............

It has turned hot and the temperature reached 30 for the first time this year this week. I had a cold last week and still have nerve pain in my right leg so i haven't really been motivated to do much, it's easier to just lounge around in front of a fan.

Last Sunday was the only time I did any birding since my last post and in hindsight I'm glad I made the effort. This egret at Kikonai had me excited for a minute or two. It seemed to have a yellow bill so I thought it may have been a Swinhoes Egret (a very rare bird that appears fairly regularly in Hokkaido, there was apparently one in Yakumo in May). They look similar to Little Egrets but have bigger plumes, shorter legs and a shorter thicker yellow bill.

No good photos at all recently, these are heavily cropped record shots.

But I thought this was probably just a Little Egret with a slightly paler than normal bill. Little Egrets don't breed in Hokkaido but are regular visitors (I've seen several already this year).

Still it was nice to be excited for a few minutes at least.............I've put an ID query up on birdforum with some more crappy photos which should settle it, I'm beginning to have doubts now, after Ayuwat's comment below I'm beginning to think it may not just be a Little Egret.


Well according to more knowledgeable folk than me it IS a Swinhoes Egret.

Other birds around last Sunday in Asabu, Eshashi and Kikonai included Little and Common  Cuckoo, Pacific Swift, Chestnut Eared Bunting, Black Browed and Oriental Reed Warblers,  Wryneck and lots of Ospreys everywhere. This one was near Yunokawa at the end of the day.

This one was at Kamiiso, I still haven't managed a decent diving shot.........

The first waders will be passing through in 3 or 4 weeks, until then it's just a case of biding my time in the summer humidity, at least the England v India series starts next week............

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3 July 2011

Caterpillar Attack

A Japanese Green Pigeon at Onuma this afternoon.

I've been got. By a caterpillar. On Friday afternoon I was sat on the concrete riverbank watching the Ospreys fishing (too far away for any photos) when I felt something on my neck, I brushed it off, it was soft and squishy. I later noticed a huge black and yellow caterpillar crawling up my pants. Oh well I guess that was what was on my neck before.

The next morning my neck was covered in weals and was itchy as hell, the hairy little bas**rd had left its toxic little barbs in my neck. I had inadvertently spread the infection by rubbing my neck with sunscreen, the inflammation seems to have receded after taking some medication and buying various lotions. I have a sore throat but I think that is hay fever. Or a cold. Oh and my back and leg still hurt from my slipped disc, upstairs are still noisy all the time.................one of those annoying little periods in life we all have to deal with. Still, f*****g hell.

A pair of Common Sandpiper was on the opposite bank but not much else. The 10 Goosander and 3 Harlequin Ducks were still present, here's a picture of the latter.

Today we went to Onuma, highlight of the day was a pair of Japanese Green Pigeon feeding in a tree.

Also around here were Moorhen, Mallard, Narcissus Flycatcher, lots of Red Cheeked Starlings feeding young, Grey Heron, various Tits, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers..............

We stopped off in the ricefields at Ono on the way back. 2 Intermediate Egret were a surprise, pther birds included Night Heron, Chestnut Eared Bunting, Siberian Stonechat, Oriental and Black Browed Reed Warblers, Lathams Snipe........the usual summer stuff.

Just listening to the 3rd ODI, why are England such a dull one day side?

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