31 December 2013

30 December 2013

A low key end to 2013

A busy work schedule,  nasty cold and some lousy weather meant a very low key end to 2013.

24 December 2013

Christmas 2013 #3

I had a quick look in Goryokaku Park this lunchtime and the flock of Crossbill was still about, they ven left the tops of the trees for a minute or 2 to drink some snow on the cherry blossom trees.

They moved very quickly and it was difficult to get a clear shot.

I hope they stick around, they are without doubt my favourite bird.

Not much else in the park. the moat is now frozen. The only other birds were a few Coal Tit and a male Grey Headed Woodpecker. All stayed high up in the trees.

So another soulless christmas in Hokkaido. My usual christmas eve is spent hammering mulled wine and expensive beer whilst listening to old christmas hits on youtube. I've just come down with a cold however so I may not even bother doing that.............

Liverpool. Top of the Premier Laegue at christmas! Didn't think that would happen. At all.
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23 December 2013

Christmas 2013 #2

A drake Harlequin Duck in one of the ports in Sawara this morning. There wasn't much in the port. just the above (with a female) and 3 Black Necked Grebe. It was very dark and the water very choppy.

22 December 2013

Christmas 2013 #1

Lots of eagles at Yakumo today but my hoped for shot (them feeding in the river) never materialized...............actually we did see lots close by in the river but they fly off as soon as the camera and lens is cocked. Usually I see them, they see me (in the car)................we all freeze for a moment.............then off they go.................and I say "oh s**t"...................

The above and below one were both taken with the 1.4 teleconverter. The top on was on a tripod, this one wasn't.

21 December 2013

A quiet Saturday afternoon............

Glaucous and Glaoucous Winged Gulls at Kamiiso this afternoon.

There were 7 species of gull present but these 2 are always the most interesting to me. They seemed like exotic northern invaders to me when I first arrived here.Actually both are pretty common in winter. They do evoke the cold north though. Hokkaido is far to the south of Lancashire but is also far colder.

This December has been pretty mild though, only a bit of snow around. Also at Kamiiso were 4 Great Egret, a small flock of 10 or so Brent Geese, Scaup, Goldeneye, Goosander and Wigeon. Near my apartment the only thing of note was a flock of 20 or so Crossbill high up in the trees in Goryokaku Park yesterday.

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17 December 2013

500mm goes BIFing

Some eagle shots from yesterday in Yakumo. It was a strange day weatherwise: rain, sunshine but no snow and surprisingly mild.

My new lens got its first BIF workout although the eagles were a little shy.

Although the eagles were all mixed in together, the White Taileds seemed commoner upstream, could it be the Stellers get the prime (undisturbed) stretches of the river?

15 December 2013

Another Sunday, another owl.

A bitterly cold Sunday afternoon with not much birding to be done in south Hokkaido. This Ural Owl posed well at least, a different one from a couple of posts ago.

11 December 2013

Out east

 One of many Glaucous Winged Gulls in Menagawa the other day. We headed east out of town, there are some small fishing ports there that sometimes have interesting stuff.

Lots of Harlequin Ducks for example.

8 December 2013

Back in an old hole

A Ural Owl in Onuma this afternoon. It was in an old hole, the first time I'd seen it in there in ages. Out of the 4 holes in Onuma I know this is the one that has the clearest view. These pics are taken on a tripod and with the 1.4 teleconverter. It was also pretty much the only time I've ever used liveview to take photos and whilst I was messin around with the settings the owl barfed up a pellet, the only interesting thing it did and of course I missed it.

30 November 2013

Hole #4

A Ural Owl at Onuma this afternoon, the 4th different Owl hole since I started birding in Onuma. Shane it was obscured by twigs but I didn't want to walk any closer...............

25 November 2013

Autumn still hanging on

A Varied Tit at Onuma yesterday. It was a very mild day with beautiful autumn sunshine, at Yakumoearlier in the day it was so mild I took off my down jacket AND fleece.

17 November 2013

Autumn returns

A female Black Woodpecker at Onuma this afternoon. It was very mild today, all the snow has melted in Hakodate and Onuma.

13 November 2013

A scarce visitor in the snow.................

Not a very good shot but this is a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a bit of a scarce visitor to Hokkaido. This is the second time I've seen this bird (or third.....I also got a Taiga Flycatcher which may or may not be a subspecies and anyway I can't really tell them apart in this plumage). Each time has been in mid to late autumn, long after all the other flycatchers have gone.

It was in a park in the east of town and difficult to keep track of. I also only had limited time and had to go home without any nice shots, just record shots.

As you can see there is a bit of snow, in fact yesterday was very wintry with about 10cm of snow on the car in the morning and frozen icy roads too.

Other common stuff in the park included Rustic and Black Faced Bunting, Siskin, Nuthatch, 4 species of tit, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Wren and Goldcrest. This was taken when I was waiting in vain for the flycatcher to appear again..............

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11 November 2013

Winter 2013/14 begins...............

A Stellers Sea Eagle at Yakumo today. It was a day of blizzards and the first really cold day of the season: that's it atumn has gone and winter is here.

4 November 2013


Only common birds again today at Yakumo. The Hooded Crane appears to have left and the only kittiwakes were a small number of the black legged variety. There is (or was) supposed to be a Sandhill Crane a couple of hours drive to the north last week................would have been a nice find for the person who discovered it..

Winter is on its way, reflected in the birds. 8 species of gull, Great Egret, Whooper Swan, various common ducks, a few distant White Tailed Eagle, Black Necked and Great Crested Grebe, Brown Dipper and Japanese Wagtail.

There was a huge hailstorm in Yakumo, complete with thunder and lightning. The end of autumn is near.

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3 November 2013

A quiet start to November

A very quiet Sunday afternooon with only common birds like the above Scaup and Nuthatch. That little rush of rarities and semi rarities seems to have come to an abrupt halt.

My initial impressionss after one week with my new lens: it's really really heavy.

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31 October 2013

Great Egrets

There were 12 Great Egrets at Kamiiso this morning. They are always common at this time of year, there was one on the river near my house too.

29 October 2013

Hooded Crane

A juvenile Hooded Crane at yakumo this afternoon.

A very friendly local birder (who we often see in Yakumo) had crossed our path earlier in the day and then very kindly chased after us to tell us of this Hokkaido rarity and then showed us exactly where it was. Thank you again.....................

27 October 2013


I got to use my lens for the first time today and the main test subjects were 2 Mugimaki Flycatchers at Onuma. I think all these picsbar one are are of a first year male but I may be wrong.

22 October 2013

Red Legged Kittiwake

It's a crap picture  but the bird in the dead centre is a first year Red Legged Kittiwake, only my third lifer of the year.

This may or may not be the same bird.

Yakumo has really produced the goods this year, all my 3 lifers so far in 2013 have been there in the exact same spot (give or take a few metres).

There were hundreds of Black Legged Kittiwake..............

The only non BIFs were this tired individual in a port just north of Yakumo.

There were 8 species of gull altogether including my first Glaucous of the winter. There were also atleast 2 Pomarine Skua, one was bathing in the river in amongst all the gulls.

Skeins of White Fronted Goose and Brent Goose were heading south, there were flocks of Wigeon, Pintail and Scaup as well as the first Goldeneye of the seaon. Other stuff included Great Crested and Black Necked Grebes, Great Egret, Dunlin and Greenshank.

My lens still isn't here ('about a month' has taken five and a half weeks so far) but apparently should be ready for me to pick up on Thursday, I won't break its cherry until Sunday at the earliest.

Not much in Hakodate, the weather has been lousy this autumn especially on my days off. An Arctic Warbler (or whatever they are called after the recent splits, Kamchatka Leaf warbler is it?) was in the bushes along the river with other unidentified stuff flitting around. Onuma was too dark for photos today but I did see Black Woodpecker and Japanese Grosbeak.

England surprised me in the World Cup qualifiers. In a nice way too.

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