8 April 2012


A Great Cormorant at Onuma today with nesting materials. All the waterbirds were concentrated on one ice free patch of the lake and there were a lot of birds it has to be said.

Not a great picture but this species is quite rare in north Japan and usually occurs only on freshwater. There is a colony at Onuma, it differs from the very similar and much commoner Temincks Cormorant in having a brown sheen to its plumage (the latter has a greenish sheen).

All I could get were BIFs today and not very good ones either.

There were also huge flocks of Pintail and various other ducks around as well as lots of Grey Heron and several Great Egret. The latter were coming into summer plumage.

The Grey Herons were catching large fish in an ice free pond.

The tame Nuthatches were around as were all the common resident species.

I saw 17 species of duck today. The most intersting were Smew and Mandarin at Onuma and pairs of Falcated Duck and Gadwall at Kamiiso. No good shots at all, only a hastily grabbed BIF of a female Mandarin survived the cull.

Other stuff around today included Whooper Swan, Brent Goose, Osprey, Sparrowhawk, Little Grebe, Coot, Grear Crested Grebe and Red Necked Grebe. Here is one of the latter at Sawara, unfortunately it was caught up in some fishing line and was looking in very poor shape.

For some reason the ports at Shikabe and Sawra had very low water levels and were almost birdless, I have no idea why the water levels were so low (I never really notice much in the way of tides here).

So it looks like spring is just round the corner then...........

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  1. That's some fish the heron has Stu - better battered with chips. Looks like your suffering from the same grey skies as us

  2. That's some fish the heron has Stu - better battered with chips. Looks like your suffering from the same grey skies as us

  3. 17 species...wow that is a lot! Great images Stu, the fox is so cute ;)

  4. Wow this posts is a real hit, Stu, so many wonderful birds,and that fox is such a magnificent creature! Oh,how that tame bird makes me envy you! :-)

  5. It's sad looking at the photo of the Red-necked Grebe....
    Anyway, great flight shot of the Mandarin as well as the cormorants. Didn't know that it's scarce up there. In Beppu, I've only seen 1 Temminck's Cormorant so far.

  6. Yeah, only Great Cormorants here in Niigata mostly around the wetland areas yet to ID a Japanese or Temmicks. 17 species of duck is pretty good and great shots of the heron and fish. I saw a Hoopoe in Niigata on Saturday! Too slow to get a photo. Maybe after the 100km an hour winds we had.

  7. Thanks for all the comments.

    Russell/Ayuwat: I think Great Cormorants are common in the south but AFAIK the colony at Onuma is the only one in Hokkaido.

    ID is pretty hard unless you get a decent view (the pattern of the yellow facial skin is important), I wonder how many birders just dimiss both species as 'cormorants' without bothering to check. I know I almost never check the ones on the sea, I just assume they're Temincks.

  8. I know you say that the foxes are tame but it's still a cracking shot.

  9. Excellent set of pictures Stu and the second picture shows that things are moving around you ;-) I love the mandarin lady flying and the nuthatch ;-)

  10. Here in HK I have assumed that all the Cormorants are "Great" - but there are records of Pelagic..... so it looks like Cormorants repay close study everywhere.

    17 duck species in a day... impressive !


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