18 March 2018
17 March 2018
Hardly any birds in town the last 10 days or so. Some birds have started appearing from the south: Oriental Greenfinches, White Wagtails and Black-tailed Gulls in breeding plumage (above).
Last week I saw just 1 Hawfinch and 1 Brown Dipper plus a brief flyover group of waxwings. This week saw even slimmer pickings: 1 male Daurian Redstart only. At Kamiiso the grebes weren't present but there were the usual ducks and gulls as well as 4 Great Egret.
The snow is melting fast. Spring is here, almost.
Labels: Black Tailed Gull
16 March 2018
15 March 2018
March 15th 2015.
A male Merlin just outside Hakodate 3 years ago today. This is an annual winter visitor in small numbers but the usual sighting of one usually only lasts a couple of seconds as it flashes across the road and disappears into the fields.
14 March 2018
13 March 2018
12 March 2018
11 March 2018
A White-tailed Eagle north of town today. There were quite a few of them still around (although all the Stellers seem to have departed). The weather has been milder the last few days, the main roads are clear in Hakodate and we can even see a bit of pavement (sidewalk) here and there too.............
Spring can't be far away. At long last. It's been a brutal winter in Hakodate.................
9 March 2018
7 March 2018
6 March 2018
5 March 2018
4 March 2018
3 March 2018
March 3rd 2014.
The Gyrfalcon at Sawara 4 years ago today. It may look bright and warm, cosy even. but it was absolutely freezing with the wind coming off the sea................
Incidentally there is some evidence that this bird may not have been quite what it seemed. I was always surprised a) how tame it was b) its odd colouring and c) its damaged tail feathers. After seeing a picture on the internet about hybrid falcons and seeing how similar they were to this bird I voiced my concerns in a couple of places including here. There are some strong arguments made against it being a wild Gyrfalcon (mainly about the aforementioned tail and also the bird's moulting details) but....................see below.
It was suggested it may have been a hybrid Gyrfalcon/Saker falcon that had escaped from a falconer. I've tried emailing the Japanese Falconry Association for their opinion but got no reply. I did however contact a falconry group on facebook and encouragingly none of them thought it was a hybrid including several folk who keep/breed hybrids themselves. It was also put forward that the tail could have been damaged naturally due to its hunting style (the wings are undamaged) and its choice of habitat. Also such falcons are very valuable and are always ringed which this bird clearly isn't.
The colouring may indicate it is a rare genetic mutation that very occasionally occurs naturally. If it was a captive bird apparently it would be very valuable due to the colour. One Japanese falconer said that Gyrs are rarely kept in Japan because they are very vulnerable to disease because of the hot humid summers, Some of the falconers are kindly making further enquiries anyway ......................
Another one visited the same place a couple of years later (but only for a short time and I couldn't see it).............
A lot of Japanese birders saw and photographed it, including the author of a famous Japanese fieldguide. It was in numerous magazines.
I thought about unticking it but I haven't yet. Maybe we'll never know its true origin.
2 March 2018
March 2nd 2015.
A Goshawk near Oshamanbe 3 years ago today. This species is not especially rare but I don't photograph it much for some reason: just distant immatures against grey skies usually. This adult is probably the best shot I've managed.
28 February 2018
27 February 2018
26 February 2018
25 February 2018
24 February 2018
23 February 2018
February 23rd 2015.
A drake Long-tailed Duck near Oshamanbe 3 years ago today.
Due to the nasty weather I haven't been up that area at all recently (only once this year and there were no LTDs). They are a bit hit-and-miss there, I wonder if they around this year?
19 February 2018
The snow is so deep that we gave up going to Onuma and headed east yet again where we know that a) the weather and roads are mysteriously much better and b) there are a handful eagles more or less guaranteed..........
18 February 2018
16 February 2018
A really really slow week. Still snowing and the snow lies deep everywhere. There was a flock of Crossbills in one of the local parks but they were a bit flighty and anyway it was impossible to get close due to the knee/thigh/waist deep snow......................
I hoped they would come close enough for a shot but they didn't. The only other birds in the park were a few Coal and Great Tits and they didn't come close either. The Tree Sparrows (one above) did.
Labels: Eurasian Tree Sparrow
12 February 2018
Wow, today was cold. In Hakodate it's been snowing heavily all day and there has been a bitterly cold wind blowing in from Siberia.
The roads and weather were too nasty to head up to Onuma so we went east again where the weather always seem to be better. And indeed it was (although it was even colder there on the coast). Even blue skies sometimes.
The local Stellers Sea Eagle flew around a bit and there were a couple of White-tailed Eagles, a Common Buzzard, 2 Peregrine and the usual common ducks and gulls.
Did I say it was cold?
11 February 2018
February 11th 2014.
A male Pine Bunting at Sawara 4 years ago today. This species is a scarce winter visitor, generally occurring the coast and very mobile as they move from one snowy windswept beach to another so perhaps a but overlooked.
This was part of a small flock and proved a nice sideshow to that winter's Gyrfalcon on the same location.
Labels: Pine Bunting
10 February 2018
8 February 2018
February 8th 2015.
A female Peregrine at Sawara 3 years ago today. It was surprisingly tame and I could get very close as it devoured whatever species of bloody duck is in its talons.
6 February 2018
5 February 2018
4 February 2018
3 February 2018
February 3rd 2012.
An immature Rough-legged Buzzard just outside Hakodate 6 years ago today.
There was a big invasion of this species into southern Hokkaido 6 years ago. I saw them in 3 or 4 places that year but hadn't seen any before and haven't seen any since....................
Labels: Rough Legged Buzzard