3 January 2013

Meet the Locals #1

DAURIAN REDSTART (Phoenicurus auroreus)

This is one the common local birds in Hakodate and is probably not so well known outside east Asia. It breeds across temperate Asia but is only a winter visitor to Japan. I generally see the first individuals in mid October and they hang around until early April with a few passing through after that. We get the eastern auroreus subspecies (the other one winters in India).

In winter there are usually several in the bushes along the river near my apartment. They are almost all males, I don't know why there are so few females. I guess they winter further south as they are common in autumn and spring.

The males set up temporary territories and aggressively defend them, not only against other Daurian Redstarts but also against similar insectivorous species like Red Flanked Bluetail which pass through in late autumn and early spring.

As you can see the male is a beautiful bird.

This is a female.......................

They are a very active and quite vocal with a persistent hard medium pitched call that reveal their presence as they flit around in the undergrowth.

I have to say I have a soft spot for redstarts. Alas I never saw many redstarts of either species in the UK. I saw a few Common Redstarts, once on spring passage in Penwortham and several times in Scotland or the Lake District. I recall seeing lots of Black Redstarts when I lived in Bavaria and 2 or 3 different species in the Himalayas on my visits to Nepal.

These are all old pictures by the way, they were all taken 3 years ago in Jan/Feb 2010.

It's been a bad bad week weather wise hence some recycled photos...........................

Thanks for clicking this link.......


  1. Really stunning pictures. Have to say I love these guys too. We usually get them here a few weeks into the new year onwards til Spring. Sadly all the trees and bushes were cut last year along the river here so I'll have to venture farther to find them this year.

  2. Hi Russell, a lot of the bushes/trees were cut down here too. What is it with the Japanese and their hatred of urban greenery?

  3. A really good insight for those of us still trapped in Blighty Stuart - more 'meet the locals' to follow I hope?

    Happy New Year

  4. Great idea - it's nice to get a bit of context as I'm sure a lot of the stuff you get commonly will still be really interesting to the likes of me.
    Any Redstart is good here - Common is a fairly scarce breeder and the odd Black overwinters.
    Hope the weather improves - I have had my longest spell of relative inactivity for a long time and it has nothing to do with the local fondness for Hogmanay!

  5. I hope i will see that one this summer. These shots are superb Stu, a beautiful start for 2013. Happy new year.

  6. Thanks for the comments........yes there may be more similar posts to follow when the weather is nasty....stil blizzarding outside.

    Chris-eh you are coming to Japan?


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