28 February 2013

Bullfinches and slush

For the last couple of days there have been 2 small flocks of Bullfinch nibbling at the buds in the trees next to the local river. These trees are the cherry blossom trees...................I hope they leave some or the locals will be aghast come late April.

They were pretty tame.

Most of the time they were towards the top of the trees at a bad angle and against a busy background. I spent a couple of hours waiting for them to come a bit lower. Which they eventually did.

There were 6 of themm in this flock. 2 males and 4 females.

This individual was of a pinker subspecies.............

It was much milder this week................and the snow has turned into shin high slush. Very tiring to walk through. I went down to the nearest harbour but could only find a couple of Black Necked Grebe, several Black Scoter and some Scaup bobbing around on the waves. Nearer home there were Varied Tit, Long Tailed Rosefinch, Hawfinch and Nuthatch. The goosanders are still on the river and have been joined by a drake Red Breasted Merganser.

On Monday I was in Kamiiso and the harbour was empty so I waded through the snow onto the beach and found this Kentish Plover.

On the train back I saw Buzzard, White Tailed Eagle and Great Egret.

 Last Sunday we were in Esan. I saw some an interesting enough cross section of winter regulars including an adult Stellers Sea Eagle. an immature White Tailed Eagle, Peregrine, Buzzard, the usual wildfowl including Harlequin Duck and Brent Goose, Black Necked Grebe and lots of Glaucous Winged Gulls. Only one Glaucous Gull though, this one was in the harbour................

So the Bullfinches were a nice end to a rather quiet February. I'm a little tired of winter......................I hope the snow disppears soon and I can wear normal shoes again.

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22 February 2013

On this day (February 22nd)

Common Crossbill

Common Crossbill

February 22nd 2009.

A couple of male Crossbills in the park near my flat 4 years ago today.

2009 was a bumper year for Crossbills in south Hokkaido. I've seen then before and since but never in such numbers as that spring...............they were everywhere in town and very tame too. The 2 shots above are hardly even cropped.

I saw a few crossbills in town earlier this winter but they seem to have moved on. I checked around town this week for likely looking spots but the weather has been just awful and not only were there no crossbills there was nothing at all of any note whatsoever.............

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20 February 2013

On this day (February 20th).................

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

February 20th 2011.

An immature Peregrine and a Large Billed Crow  in Yakumo  2 years ago today. The falcon was being mobbed by a group of crows but to my eyes it seemed to be enjoying the attention as it led them on a wild falcon chase for a full 10 minutes.......................

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I was on the same bridge a few days ago and saw almost nothing let alone a falcon chase........

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17 February 2013

Long Tailed Ducks and other stuff

A drake Long Tailed Duck at Oshamanbe this afternoon.

The day didn't start too well. At Yakumo there were still a fair few eagles of both species left but it was too cold to stand on the bridge long (the river was frozen near its mouth) and inland there was a raging blizzard................so we went up to Oshamanbe. The harbour was full of birds: Scaup, Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Black Necked Grebe, Glaucous Winged Gull and a dozen or so Long Tailed Ducks.

They mostly stayed out in the middle but this one popped up in nice light fairly close by (though the photo is still cropped).

Usually the light was behind them..................

We finished the day off at Onuma. There were several Black Woodpecker around including a very vocal pair in the usual spot (making unusual calls, was it courtship?) but they were too far off for a decent photo.

The tame tits and nuthatches posed well just before sunset...................

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are the joint most common woodpecer species (with Japanese Pygmy) but I still don't have a decent photo of one................this was one from today: they just don't seem to like my camera.

So that is probably that for the eagles this winter. I probably won't make it up to Yakumo again for at least 2 weeks and most if not all of the remaining eagles will have gone by then. Not a vintage winter for eagle photos but it wasn't for lack of trying.......................

Blog update, bath, beer, football. My regular Sunday evening..........................

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16 February 2013

Cormorant ID issues

A cormorant at Kamiiso yesterday but which species?

There are 2 very similar species in Japan: Great Cormorant (the same one as in Europe and North America) and temincks Cormorant (restricted to NE Asia). Temincks is the 'default' marine species in Japan and is widespread whereas Great is more local and tends to occur on inland waters (although not exclusively).

I saw 3 Cormorants flying over my flat heading north last week, were they Great Cormorants going to Onuma (where they breed)? I couldn't get a photo and they were too high up to get a decent view anyway.

There are 2 main ways to distinguish them (habitat is not enough...............I have seen Temincks inland):

1. Temincks plumage has a green sheen and Great has a brown sheen. The bird above appears to have the brown sheen but light can play tricks with this method.

2. The facial pattern of the yellow skin. To the left of the mouth Great has a rounded edge and Temincks has a ponted triangular edge.

This is yesterday's bird.

Hmmmm..........not  100% sure about this one. It appears to be somewhat rounder than these 2 Temincks Cormorants shots taken in previous late winters.

So is it a Great Cormorant or not? The first 3 shots I mean........................

Any opinions will be gratefully received. Great Cormorant would be a Hakodate first for me.

Not much else around, the usual grebes, gulls and ducks in small numbers but nothing close enough for a decent photo. Buff Bellied Pipit and Kentish Plover were on the beach but very skittish. 4 Great Egret flew over my apartment yesterday morning but town seems pretty birdless at the moment..............

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12 February 2013

Snowy again.......................

There was a big dump of snow yesterday and through last might meaning yet another slow weekend's birding.

I had a long walk today around town looking for something interesting, waxwings perhaps or maybe crossbills but there were none of either species. There were still  lots of Goosander on the river and a Peregrine resting atop one of the communications towers but not much else except this small flock of Long Tailed Tits.

Very difficult to photograph: small and very active and even when they sit still there is usually a branch in the way.

Yesterday was a write off, between the blizzards we managed to feed the tame tits and nuthatches at Onuma.

On the way back home in Ono we saw a White Tailed Eagle and a flock of 20 or so Bullfinch but the driving snow made photos impossible.

Glad I didn't get up to watch the Liverpool v West Brom game.

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