30 October 2011

Late autumn in south Hokkaido



A Black Necked Grebe at Toya a couple of days ago: there gather on the lake in late autumn although they are usually too far out for photos unless they're in a flock like this........


On the way we stopped at Yakumo: the eagles hadn't arrived yet although we did see 3 Crested Kingfisher. At the river mouth were a flock of Great Egret and a small group of Whooper Swan too. Great Egret were everywhere; Onuma, Yakumo and Oshamanbe (and the Ribble too I hear).

Toya isn't so great for birding to be honest. There were the usual common ducks. a few feral Mute Swan and small flocks of Goosander......



We stayed in one of the large hot spring hotels on the lakeside, we could see the Grebes from our 9th room floor. The hotel was a bit tacky and noisy but it didn't stop me doing my usual trick of eating and drinking way too much before passing out about 9pm.

Before the eating and drinking we visited the small island in the middle of the lake, it looked potentially good for birding but at this time of the year there were only the usual common tits, nuthatches and woodpeckers.

On the way back there were flocks of Brown and Eye Browed Thrush in Kuromatsunai and at Yakumo there were the first Black Scoter of the winter as well as several Great Crested Grebe and 8 species of gull including 30 or so Black Legged Kittiwake.

Today we briefly checked Ono.........a Merlin was chasing some kind of Snipe, 2 Whooper Swan and 1 Bewicks Swan flew over too. Near Sawara there were lots more Black Legged Kittiwake......




As you can see it was very dark today. At Onuma the forest was full of birds. Lots of Jay, more Whooper Swan and Great Egrets, Great Cormorant, Little Grebe, lots of Tits, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers here too. Most interesting was a pair of very active Black Woodpeckers. It was very very dark and also very hard to get a clear view. This was the best image I could manage.......




This autumn has seen many many Brown Bear sitings in Hokkaido. Apparently the bears are very hungry (their normal autumn food supply is rather scarce this year) and have been seen much closer to human habitation than normal. Some have been seen at Onuma, hence this rather alarming sign......


It's easy to snigger at the overcautiousness of the Japanese but bears can and do regularly kill folk in the mountains and forests of Hokkaido. One person who I teach had an uncle who was killed and partially eaten by one...................

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6 comments:

  1. Love that first image and the woodpecker.

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  2. Those grebe are very impressive, specially because of their red eye! The woodpecker is also awseome :)

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  3. The black woody is superb. Would love to see one but I'd be shy of the woods this time of year in Hokkaido because of the brown bears too. Last year in Niigata, the tv news showed them removing the bodies of black bears almost daily for about three weeks. I was upset as they showed gangs of dozens of men with guns and bats and sticks hunting down a 60kg bear...like in a werewolf movie... but actually a handful of people were seriously injured and I think 3 killed here so I guess I began to realise their fear when they showed children's crossings in the vicinities... Hell though, in Oz we send two guys out with a bit of string to catch and relocate 5 metre crocs......haven't seen flocks of grebe like that..

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  4. Lovely photos of the Black-necked Grebes. I just wish we have more of them down here. But the Black Woodpecker shot is the best thing in this post! It's just so good, even though you say that is was very dark and hard to get a good view.

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  5. Thanks for the comments. Russell-Japan and Australia's attitudes to dangerous to dangerous critters are worlds apart..........

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