29 March 2012


Today saw clear blue skies and a strong (SW) wind that was bracing rather than freezing. I took the tram down to Irifune to check on the Brent Geese which are always very active at this time of year just before they head north.

There were about 40 or 50 of them, in 2 or 3 loose flocks.

I was trying for BIFs today...........

It is a very photogenic species and appears to be unusually tame here in south Hokkaido, many of these shots are hardly cropped at all.

It was very windy actually and after a couple of hours I'd had enough, hopefully they'll stick around for another week or 2.

Nothing much else about, a few Red Breasted Merganser, Harlequin Duck, Glaucous Gull.........the last few days in town have been very quiet, a female Sparrowhawk and a Goosander a couple of days ago being the only noteworthy species.

When i went to the supermarket this afternoon Trott and Patel were in and it looked like England were going to pull off an unlikely victory. When I got back Panesar was just losing his wicket.............World #1? Really?

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On this day (March 29th)


March 29th 2010.

A Hoopoe near my apartment 2 years ago today. This species appears to be reasonably regular in early spring, this was the 3rd time I'd seen Hoopoes in south Hokkaido.........

Still snow on the ground this March and very few birds around town.........

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25 March 2012

Another grey Sunday

A quiet Sunday here in south Hokkaido, tight finances meant we didn't want to spend a lot so we just stuck around town.

The above Whooper Swans were sitting in a snowfield in Ono. Actually it is a paddyfield, in a 6 or so weeks the farmers will be ploughing it and preparing for planting. I noticed the first Skylarks of the year in the same place and there was also a small flock of Rook.

This is amazingly difficult to photograph, they are so wary compared to the resident crow species. It is actually a fairly scarce winter visitor but as I grew up seeing loads of them in England I tend not to bother photographing them much, this BIF was the best one I could get today.

Nothing at Kamiiso apart from the common winter seaducks so I ended up in the bay area, the light was terrible. Lots more common winter water birds here. These are 2 of the more interesting ones, a Pelagic Cormorant and Red Necked Grebe.

So Liverpool's season becomes more embarrassing every fixture (Wigan?!?!).

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23 March 2012

A Friday morning in Onuma......

A Jay this morning in Onuma. We spent a couple of hours there, it is still snowbound except along the road but there were quite a lot of birds around.

The Jays were eating some of the food we'd left out for the tits and nuthatches.

They were a little shy and seemed to be playing hide and seek a lot of the time.

There were lots of woodpeckers around, no Black alas but plenty of Japanese Pygmys.

This is a common species and although not at all shy is so active it is difficult to get a clear photo of.

This Long Tailed Tit was also very hard to pin down.

There was quite a bit of open water at one end of the lake, the summer Grey Herons and great Cormorants have started arriving as have this species, one of the shyest of them all.

A female Mandarin Duck snapped from the car window, there was also a male but that was behind some branches. They both flew off as soon as I'd taken the above photo, after 5 years I still don't have a single decent shot of one.

Other wildfowl included Whooper Swan, Goosander, Smew, Goldeneye, Wigeon and Pintail, here's one of the latter.

Also present were Goshawk, Peregrine, Brambling, Hawfinch and lots of Oriental Greenfinch singing everywhere. Nothing at Kamiiso except the Great Egret flock and a lone Red Breasted Merganser in the harbour.

I don't even care about Liverpool's capitulation against QPR, I just don't expect them to even try to win league games anymore.

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On this day (March 23rd)...........

Common Crossbill

March 23rd 2009.

3 years ago there was a big influx of Common Crossbill into south Hokkaido with 4 or 5 separate flocks in Hakodate alone. One such flock was in the park near may apartment and they were pretty tame and often came to ground like these ones drinking from puddles on the road on a grey rainy day.

The male was brilliant vivid red.

Common Crossbill

I should have knelt down to get a better angle...............oh well next time next time.

Common Crossbill

2008 and 2009 were very good years for crossbills, I haven't seen any crossbills this year, there were only a few last year (2011) and none the year before (2010), this is an unpredictable species for sure.

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20 March 2012

Winter still hanging on.........

Well spring began today and it was f***ing freezing, lots of snow flurries and a bitterly cold wind blowing in from Siberia, all this after yet another heavy dumping of snow last night.

In Shikabe there were several Black Necked Grebe in the harbour but they were all still very much in winter colours.

A typical view of this species........

All 5 common species of seaduck were around Shikabe and today there was a sixth: a drake White Winged Scoter that was too far off for anything but a record shot.

At Onuma the usual species were present but no Black Woodpecker today, just the tame tits and nuthatches.

The day started and ended in Kamiiso with 2 interesting birds. The first was a flying Lapwing seen briefly from the car window in the morning and the second was a fishing Osprey in the late afternoon gloom, these are summer visitors to Hokkaido and well it is the first day of spring........

This Great Crested Grebe was at Kamiiso.........

I got Lightroom 4 but on my 2008 imac it runs very slowly indeed, looks like I need a new computer this summer..........

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18 March 2012

B & W

A very grey dark Sunday, windy and cool. At Sawara and Shikabe there were the usual common ducks, grebes and gulls. The above immature Glaucous Gull was near a place where I got splashed with gullsh*t, a truly horrible place: a seafood processing factory where thousands of large Gulls congregate, if I was better at ID and could put up with the stink I would find some rarities I'm sure.

The female Black Woodpecker was one of 4 woodpecker species at Onuma. Other stuff here included Smew, Great Egret, White Tailed Eagle and Hawfinch. At Kamiiso there wasn't much in the harbour but there were 17 Great Egret on the river..........

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16 March 2012

Another long walk in the slush

I took the long walk down to Irifune to check on the Brent Geese. It was quite mild today and has been for a few days but the snow still hasn't really melted, some places at the Brent site are still inaccessible.

There were lots of them: 30 or 40 at least.

Other stuff today included the usual common winter sea ducks such as Scaup, Goldeneye, Red Breasted Merganser and Harlequin, Great Crested Grebe and Pelagic Cormorant. On the river yesterday were 6 species of duck including both merganser species, Great Egret, Merlin and another Great Crested Grebe at the rivermouth. I seem to be seeing a lot of these every winter now, I wasn't seeing any 10 years ago I recall.

So another quiet week draws to an end, the snow has to disappear soon I guess, at this rate it'll still be around in April, very unusual for Hakodate.

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