31 January 2012
29 January 2012
Still really cold here, minus 14 when we headed out this morning. The kearashi (mist rising from the sea on the coldest winter days) was visible near Hakodate at sunrise.
I headed up to Yakumo with a friend to have another go at the eagles but it was a disappointing day. Some hunters were upstream and although they weren't shooting the eagles the noise of the gunshots scared all the eagles away. There weren't many at the rivermouth either, here the river was frozen solid. Here is the only eagle that came close...........and it wasn't so close either.
I was reduced to looking for Black Kites, oh the shame.
We headed down to Sawara. My friend wanted some new birds to photograph (he is new to the hobby) so I found him some Gulls, he'd never seen Glaucous or Glaucous Winged.
This was in a nasty stinky seafood processing plant. The staff throw out fish heads and fish tails to the masses of gulls, crows and kites.
It was difficult pointing out the different guls in the chaos of birds, fish heads and bird shit.
"Look, at the back, the grey one with its mouth open......that's a washikamome (Glaucous Winged Gull)!!!!"
Here's one among the fish heads. Nice.
This young Glaucous Gull looked small and dainty, maybe from one of the smaller subspecies?
We then went on to a nearby harbour. This place is also covered with bird shit but has some nicer birds...........like these Black Scoter. The top one dived and caught some kind of shellfish.
Also around here were White Tailed Eagle, Scaup, Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck and Black Necked Grebe.
We then went to Onuma and got luckier with the Smew. The afternoon seems to be the best time to photograph them, no mist on the pond and better light.
I tried to get the pair of them in the same shot........
The young Night Heron was here too........
The day finished with the tame Nuthatches...........
Not much in town last week. White Tailed Eagle, Whooper Swan and Great Egret at Kamiiso 2 days ago but no photos. The weather was so nasty that the train was delayed about 15 minutes. That is major news in Japan let me tell you. In Hakodate last week there were 3 species of Heron and 6 species of duck on the river but no Waxwings yet............at least the Dusky Thrush numbers are increasing.
I watched in horror as England collapsed against Pakistan yesterday, guess we're only #1 if you don't count any games played in Asia then. I popped out to the shop when we were 12 without loss and when I came back 4 wickets were down! Embarrassing.
At least Liverpool beat Man Utd.
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24 January 2012
On Sunday the wind direction changed and it became unexpectedly mild and it even rained. Unfortunately subzero temperatures soon returned and the slush from a couple of days ago has now become glassy ice and it is horrible to walk on even with spikes.
I was watching the above unusually confiding Great Egret near my apartment, it looked like it was just going to do something interesting when it was disturbed by an old man who threw away blocks of ice he'd been chipping away at in front of his house next to the river. I watched in horror as he threw the slabs of ice over the railings at the side of the river, the egret flew off. 'F**king hell" I shouted in English, the old man nodded sheepishly (to be fair he didn't know the egret was there but the silly old bastard must have known I was photographing something).
Not much else around, small groups of Dusky Thrush and Grey Starling (but no Waxwings yet), 6 species of duck including Goosander, a lone male Daurian Redstart, a Grey Heron: that's about it. On Sunday there were 2 adult White Tailed Eagle and some Black Necked Grebe in Kamiiso but the weather was so bad photography was impossible.
I've given up on Liverpool finishing in the top 4 though at least Arsenal and Chelsea are struggling too, you never know.
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Labels: Great Egret
21 January 2012
The drake Smew at Onuma yesterday. It has been joined by a female but they were both very shy and it was very hard to get a good picture, it was dark and misty again and when the sun finally hit the pond they both flew off! I guess they just roost there........
It was very cold waiting in futility for them to swim out in the open but there was at least some other interesting stuff around. Some kind of weasel/marten was hunting, it caught a mouse (thankfully it left the Smew alone). An immature Night Heron was a surprise and there were lots of the common woodland residents including this male Grey Headed Woodpecker, a high ISO shot in the morning gloom.
The tame tits and nuthatches were around as per usual.
We the headed to Esan but the weather was pretty lousy with no photo opps. The Rough Legged Buzzards were around in the same places as last week but too far away to photograph, the Pine Buntings weren't there, just a skittish flock of Skylark instead. Other birds included lots of Glaucous Winged Gull, Brent Geese, all the common ducks including Harlequin, Whooper Swan, White Tailed Eagle, Great Egret, Brambling, Common Buzzard and Peregrine.
Thursday had beautiful clear (even mild) weather, I headed out to Kamiiso. White Tailed Eagle was bird of the day here. I saw one high in the sky and later sitting on one of the frozen rivers (the latter sighting unfortunately being from the train window on the way home). Whooper Swan, Coot, Great Egret, Grey Heron and about 10 common species of duck were also around. I searched teh gull flocks for Thayers Gull, all I discovered were that no 2 Vega Gulls look alike. The harbour was birdless except for ONE Black Necked Grebe and even that didn't come close.
I took a walk this lunchtime near my apartment in the gloomy snowy weather but nothing around except for a flyover Kestrel, a few Teal, the drake Wigeon, a lone Dusky Thrush and half a dozen Grey Starling.
Yet another construction project a few meters away from my apartment begun last week, yup we have noise 6 days a week until the middle of April to look forward to.
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17 January 2012
I took a trip down to a good local spot for Brent Geese and managed to catch a flock of them in the midday sunshine. The high contrast plumage always seems to result in blown highlights.........
There were about 20 of them. They're pretty tame...........
Other stuff around included Harlequin Duck, Glaucous and Glaucous Winged Gull. Here's one of the latter.........
And here's a common bird I don't often I photograph, a White Wagtail of the local race.
Stuff in town the last couple of days included Great Egret, 5 species of duck including Wigeon, Peregrine, Grey Starling, Dusky Thrush and Siberian Meadow Bunting........
Just listening to England struggling against Pakistan, I knew World Domination wouldn't last long.
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15 January 2012
A young Stellers Sea Eagle at Yakumo today.
It was very cold with an absolutely biting wind. the river downstream was frozen at Yakumo, I endured about 5 minutes on the bridge looking at half a dozen eagles doing nothing in the distance. Upstream were a few more eagles but this individual provided the only worthwhile shots of the day.
We had started the day off at Onuma, the Smew was in the same place but the air was so cold that steam was rising off the pond where It has been stranded, although I could get close all my shots looked like my lens was filthy. This was the best I could manage, I converted it to monochrome.
The snow has been pretty heavy in Yakumo, it was difficult to park in many places so we headed down to Sawara which was even colder. We got another Rough Legged Buzzard here (just a brief glimpse, no photo): there seems to have been a big influx of this species into south Hokkaido this winter (there were apparently 13 at Esan today!). There were various common winter water birds in the harbours, here's some Black Scoter.
I watched Liverpool draw at home again last night. Why do I even bother?
Hopefully we'll see some stuff moving with this cold weather. Waxwings generally arrive here in Hakodate in mid to late January, in most years anyway. Sometimes they arrive several weeks later, occasionally a little earlier and in some years they don't come at all.
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13 January 2012
A male Pine Bunting and a first winter (?) Rough Legged Buzzard, 2 new birds for both my Japan and life lists.
Actually I don't really keep a life list (too many vague sightings and hazy memories) but I recently counted up my Japan list which is now on 267 (and all but half a dozen of those have been in Hokkaido and most in the area where I live).
The day started off in Onuma which was very wintry.
There were some Whooper Swans dozing on the ice..........
I went to a small pond which is kept ice free in the winter (I think it must be near a hot spring or something). Usually there is a Great Egret there and sometimes a Kingfisher. Neither species was there but I was pleased to see this drake Smew...............
It flew off before I could get closer.
The weather then closed in, the Ural Owl was cosy in its hole.
We took the scenic route on the coast down to Esan. Lots of Brent goose and common seaducks and winter gulls as well as a White Tailed Eagle but no bird photos from here, it was too dark and cold. The area is famous for its frozen waterfalls in winter.........
This was below the hanging ice, it looks a little phallic.........
We ended up in Esan around lunchtime to look for the Buntings and Buzzards. I saw several common Buzzards and was ready to give up on the Rough Legged thinking I was jinxed. I looked for the Pine Buntings and found them immediately, 7 of them I think.
A few minutes later I saw my first Rough Legged Buzzard, there were 3 distant BIF sightings, I don't know if it was the same bird or several different individuals (6 were seen here last weekend). I fired off some record shots which I won't bother posting.
We headed back to Hakodate seeing lots more Common Buzzards...........as you can see they are pretty pale..............
................but not as pale as this Rough Legged Buzzard on the outskirts of Hakodate.
I've probably seen and overlooked this species before but today's birds were my first firm ID.
Shame it was against a grey sky late in the afternoon........
So a successful day, thanks once again to Osamu Kimura for finding the Buntings and Buzzards and kindly pointing out where to look for them. The Rough Legged Buzzard in these photos was my own find at least, there seems to be a bit of an influx at the moment.
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