30 July 2013

The slowest week of the slowest month

The worst month for birding in south Hokkaido is generally July. Actually the start of the month is often OK but by the end there really isn't much going on plus in the last week of July it starts to get pretty hot and humid. Ospreys and Green Pigeons, as I've said before, are the only birding staples at this time of year so today we headed over to Shikabe to see the latter.

The skies were leaden and the dirty pebble beach was covered in rotting stinking seaweed and loads of insects.

The pigeons put in a couple of appearances but were very skittish due to 2 hunting Peregrines in the area.

Only BIFs.

Not much else around except flocks of Pacific Swift high overhead. Very quiet locally too. Goosander and Common Sandpiper at Kamiiso a couple of days ago, that's about it.

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28 July 2013

Meet the Locals #7

Grey Tailed Tattler (Tringa brevipes)

Another east Asian specialty, something to post about when the birding has gone quiet.

This is a common passage visitor throughout Japan and unlike most waders it is as common in spring as it is in autumn. It is the 'default' medium sized wader of the region, similar to the Redshank back in the UK. It breeds in Siberia and winters in SE Asia and the south Pacific.

In Hokkaido they appear in a variety of habitats but they seem to prefer rocky coasts. Having said that I have seen them on sandy beaches, mudflats, inland on rivers and lakeshores and even once on the moat in Goryokaku park. They were the first wader species I saw in Hokkaido.

They first appear around Hakodate in late April, a few linger on into June. These photos are all in May and (like all the photos in the post) were taken invarious locations in Hokkaido, mainly the southwest.

They often appear in small loose flocks and sit around on the rocks. Their slightly eerie call is one of the most familiar sounds on the jettys and harbours in spring and autumn...........

I first saw this species in late 1994, bobbing up and down on a pole in the mangroves near Cooktown, FNQ. A few months ago I saw this individual in Kamiiso.

I sent an email to the relevant folk quoting the number on the tag and got this reply.............

A Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes was sighted by Stuart Price at:
Hakodate Hokkaide, Japan 41deg 46min 8sec N, 140deg 43min 43sec E  on
13/05/2013 with flag(s) as follows:

      LEFT leg: nothing/unknown on tibia (upper leg) above nothing/unknown
on tarsus
      RIGHT leg: green engraved flag on tibia (upper leg) above
nothing/unknown on tarsus

This bird was flagged Manly Boat Harbour, Moreton Bay, approximate
co-ordinates 27deg 27min S, 153deg 11min E, which uses the flag combination
Green Engraved.

The resighting was a distance of approximately 7804 km, with a bearing of
350 degrees, from the marking location.

They return again in early August and the first ones to pass through seem to be adults...................

They are especially common in September, I think all these are juveniles but I'm not 100% sure. They all have the white markings on the back anyway...............

By the end of September they have moved south although I usually see a few stragglers into October.

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22 July 2013

Ospreys again

A juvenile (I think) Osprey at Yakumo yesterday.

There were 3 Ospreys around, 1 of which was probably an adult (it could catch actually fish). The weather was humid and overcast, not great for BIFs.

This individual came fairly close at least.  Lots of very similar shots as you can see.

Not much else around. The only singing species was a Grays Grasshopper Warbler. Other stuff included Sand Martin, Little Ringed Plover and a couple of Great Scaup (a few individuals spend the summer).

I watched England trying to break a dogged last wicket stand for the second consecutive Sunday but it's fair to say it wasn't quite  so tense this time.........................

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18 July 2013

Meet the locals #6

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Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris)

A bit of an east Asian specialty, this is one of the more interesting local birds here in south Hokkaido. It is a fairly common late summer/early autumn visitor to the local beaches and can be seen from mid August to mid September. They are often solitary or in pairs and are surprisingly tame, many of these pics are only slightly cropped or not at all.

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They breed in Siberia and winter south to Australia.

I'm not so hot on identifying the ages of waders especially in autumn but it seems to me that all these are all  juveniles (please feel free to correct me). According to the books juveniles have brown fringed coverts and yellowish legs and all thse pics seem to share those characteristics. Some adults must pass through however, maybe my hunch these are all juveniles is incorrect.

I have never seen them in spring, why I that is don't know................

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Here are 2 Great Knots together with a Red Knot to show the structural differences...........

Red Knot is scarce around here, I've only seen 2 individuals in fact compared to the fairly common annual Great Knot.............

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They are quite comical in manner, jogging along the beach completely ignoring any people about..............

Great Knot

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Great Knot

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14 July 2013

Green and Tense

I was in Shikabe on a grey humid summer afternoon watching the Japanese Green Pigeons.................

I'm updating this blog whilst the very tense end to the first Ashes test goes on in the background. If I ignore it and switch the sound off, wickets will fall. It worked twice so far but Australia still edging towards the total.

If England lose after having Australia at 117/9 in the first innings I will not be happy.

Not a vintage day for photos, too overcast and the sea was too calm meaning no splashes when they came down to the rocks..............

Back to the torture of the cricket then............my last 5 minutes of radio silence didn't get a wicket...............

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10 July 2013

Only Ospreys

At this time of year there generally isn't much to see or do birdwise. Ospreys or Green Pigeons. That's about it.........

Here are some Ospreys in Yakumo and Oshanambe last weekend................

I think some of them may have been juveniles (but it seems a bit eaerly for them to be flying around) as some were useless at catching fish whilst others did it every time.

I couldn't get any action shots.................

Thr usual stuff was at Shizukari but the Eastern Marsh Harriers hunt over a much wider space than the river based Ospreys and I couldn't get close. Most species were still singing but by next weekend they will have stopped....................

The humid weather has started, I don't like summer much here. At least the Ashes start today. I watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon..............the first time I had watched a Wimbledon final since Boris Becker won it as a 17 year old just after I finished my O levels. I didn't even know players could challenge line calls these days...........................
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Linked to Wild Bird Wednesday.
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