31 December 2011

So that was 2011

A young Stellers Sea Eagle at Yakumo this afternoon. I had a couple of hours with the eagles again but didn't get as much luck as I had yesterday and earlier in the week. There weren't many upstream at all, apparently this wasn't a good year for salmon and they were congregating near the river mouth looking for food.

It's impossible to get close to them down there alas. Occasionaly one of them sits close to the bridge though.

This is a more typical view from downstream.

Not so many BIFs today. My wife said she's got bored of seeing so many anyway.

There were lots of Great Egret around today.

Brown Dipper are very common upstream but a darkish bird that hangs around in the shade is rather hard to photograph.

So it's New Years Eve. Kohaku is on the TV, this is a cheesy Japanese music show that is on every Dec 31st and is something of an institution here. I guess TV in the UK is just as bad at christmas and new year but I have to say J-pop is the blandest most insipid music I've ever heard. Still at least they have the enka on now which is good background music for getting slowly drunk to . Lady Gaga, god help us, is on later.

2011 was a pretty good year birding wise. I got lots of additions to both my local and national lists. It was a bad year for Japan though, the quak/ tsunami/nuclear accident in March seem like a long time ago now but I'll never forget the feelings of dread and unease that dragged on for weeks afterward.

To the handful of regular readers on this blog: I hope you have a good 2012.

Steven Gerard. Legend.

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30 December 2011

Year end raptors

Another early visit up to Yakumo today. It was very cold and clear, beautiful in fact. Weird ice crystals were shimmering in the air and mist was rising from the mountain river...........here's the best mood shot I could manage with a 100-400L on an APS-C camera.

Of course we were there for the eagles.

I'm still awaiting a decent  eagle feeding in the river shot. Not all today's shots were BIFs however. Notice there are no branches in the way for a nice change..........

This adult White Tailed Eagle flew right over the bridge on the busy road north.......

The Stellers Sea Eagles didn't fly quite as close........

Or if they did fly close it was against the sun.........

This Sparrowhawk was a nice surprise, not a bird I often get to photograph.

We stopped off at Onuma and the Ural Owl was in one of its winter holes.

It even woke up momentarily.

It was at this pont the snow returned and the days photography was curtailed.

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29 December 2011


A Shorelark in Kamiiso today, a lifer and addition to my local/Japanese list. It was rather wary, this heavy crop was the best of a dodgy bunch of photos.

The Black Necked Grebes were still in the harbour as were Goldeneye, Scaup, Red Breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe. I didn't stay there too long, I went looking for some Pine Bunting in Menagawa. Unfortunately I couldn't find any. There were a few interesting birds around: Long Billed Plover, Long Tailed Rosefinch, Whooper Swan, Great Egret..............still expecting 2 lifers in a day would have been just plain greedy.

Christ, when will Liverpool stop drawing after dominating games?

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27 December 2011

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

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27th December 2009.

A Short Eared Owl on a cold dark afternoon at Mukawa..............

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26 December 2011

Eagles and a Solitary Snipe

Thanks to the kind offer of a ride up to Yakumo with Tomohiro I was able to get 2 or 3 hours with the eagles early this morning. There were lots around and the weather was surprisingly clear.

Of course we were concentrating on the eagles but bird of the day turned out to be this inconspicuous little fellow. Unfortunately my camera was on BIF settings when I took this, by the time I'd managed to change (only 1 or so seconds) the bird had flown off.

A Solitary Snipe, a rare and shy winter visitor that skulks around icy mountain streams. It was a lifer for me and a very nice surprise.............

Solitary Snipe
The eagles were sitting around in the trees mainly..........

There must have been a lot of snow yesterday in Yakumo as several of the places we usually stop were impassable.

I wanted to get some close up photos of eagles in the water but they fly off so quickly. I need quicker reflexes. Or an invisibility cloak. So trees it is..........

This one was very heavily backlit, I could barely see it looking into the sun and my camera could hardly focus on it either.

There were lots of adult Stellers today.........

There were also quite a lot of first year birds, hopefully the species had a successful summer in 2011.

Most of the photos today were of Stellers, here's an adult White Tailed Eagle.

Not much BIF action today, this was the best one.

I did however manage not one but TWO pictures of crapping Stellers Sea Eagles. Enjoy.

This effort was quite spectacular........

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25 December 2011

Christmas in Onuma

A female Black Woodpecker at Onuma late this afternoon. It was another cold day, lots of snow on Christmas Eve but this afternoon te sun came out.

The Woodpecker was pretty tame and kept on feeding whilst I took lots of photos, most of which looked very similar. It was quite hard, it was usually against the light, at a bad angle and constantly moving. This was the most interesting pose.

But the other shots are very samey. 

Somebody had left out lots of food for the tits and nuthatches so they weren't especially tame and I couldn't get any decent shots of them in the snow.

2 Bean Geese had joined the small flock of Whooper Swans..........

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