Sunday, April 30, 2006

Aomori Holiday - Natsudomari Peninsular

Location: Natsudomari Peninsula - from Aomori to Asadokoro Seashore

Access: Car; For direct access to the Asadokoro Seashore: Aomori to Kominato Station - Tohoku-honsen Line; Walk to coast (10 minutes)

Weather: Overcast, Cool, Light Breeze

Time: 1.00pm - 2.30pm

Birds: Whooper Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Black Kite, Common Black-headed Gull, Black-tailed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Slaty-backed Gull

Comments: This list comprises of birds seen while driving around the Natsudomari Peninsula from Aomori to the Asadokoro Seashore in Hiranai. The winding road leads through small fishing villages hugging the water; the air thick with the smell of the last catch. Bordering the roadside - scallop nets, plastic and glass floats - forming high walls, many long abandoned and half hidden in long grass.

Offshore, male and female Red-breasted Merganser in groups of two's and three's are found at regular intervals - from just off the rocky beaches to the limits of the binoculars ability to accurately make an identification. Slaty-backed Gull in full adult plumage are the most common gull found on the rocky breakwaters, while at the Asadokoro Seashore we also find a Common Black-headed Gull, displaying the uneven colouring found between winter and summer plumages.

At the Asadokoro Seashore we also spot our first Common Gull (Mew Gull) for the year, and four remaining Whooper Swan being fed by a group of young children. From October the Asadokoro Seashore is famous for attracting large numbers of swans from northern Europe.

BB Tohoku Archives - Links to video footage of the Asadokoro Seashore and Magitsutsumi; map - Natsudomari Peninsula

2006 Japan Bird Count: 86 Species

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Aomori Holiday - Magitsutsumi

Whooper Swan on Magitsutsumi, Aomori, April 29 2006Location: Magitsutsumi, Kamikita, Oirase, Aomori

Access: Car

Weather: Fine, Warm, Light Breeze

Time: 11.30am - 12.00pm

Birds: Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Falcated Teal, Common Teal, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Black Kite, Eurasian Coot, Black-tailed Gull

Comments: After wintering in northern Japan, only three Whooper Swan remain on Magitsutsumi after the majority have already left to return to their northern European breeding grounds. Of note, a single female Red-Breasted Merganser and a single pair of Greater Scaup amongst large numbers of Tufted Duck. Photographs to follow...

Link: map

2006 Japan Bird Count: 85 Species

Aomori Holiday - Tsuta Onsen

Tsuta Onsen, Aomori, April 29 2006Location: Tsuta Onsen, Towadako-machi, Kamikita-gun, Aomori-ken

Access: Car

Weather: Fine-Cloudy, Cool-Cold, Light Breeze

Time: Overnight Stay

Birds: Asian House Martin

Comments: Not much time for birding, but a quick walk around the onsen before breakfast on the morning of departure (April 29th, 2006) revealed only two dozen Asian House Martin, making nests under the eaves of the onsen buildings.

Link: map

2006 Japan Bird Count: 83 Species

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Penduline-Tits and Assorted Plovers

Tamagawakakou -Looking towards Haneda AirportLocation: Tama River Mouth (Tamagawakakou), Kawasaki, Kanagawa

Access: Kojimashinden Station (Keihin-Kyuko Daishi Line)

Weather: Overcast, Cold, Strong Wind

Time: 9.00am - 10.30am

Birds: Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Spot-billed Duck, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Common Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, White Wagtail, Dusky Thrush, Chinese Penduline-Tit, Carrion Crow, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Common Reed Bunting

Comment: With a cold wind (minor gale) blowing; we walked along the banks of the Tama River from the cable-stayed Daishi Bridge, separated from the river by tall reeds. Eurasian Tree Sparrows drank from small muddy puddles, joined by the occasional Dusky Thrush. In the reeds we spot a Common Reed Bunting and close by a couple of slightly smaller birds which were immediately recognisable as Chinese Penduline-Tits.

Pacific Golden Plovers at TamagawakakouWhere the reeds thinned to give access to the mudflats, we wander out across the mud to focus on three small separate groups of waders, each consisting of 3 birds each. A larger group makes close passes to the shore but never settle and are soon lost to sight as they fly to the opposite bank. The first group are Pacific Golden Plover, the second Kentish Plover, the third Little Ringed Plover. The Pacific Golden Plover face the wind unmoving until we approach, but the other plovers are very active - finding plenty of worms in the mud.

On the water are two separate large groups of duck - Tufted Duck and Greater Scaup. There are smaller numbers Eurasian Wigeon.

Link: Map

2006 Japan Bird Count: 82 Species

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Swallows are Back

Location: Kasai Rinkai Koen, Edogawa, Tokyo

Access: Shinjuku Station to Tokyo Station - JR Chuo Line. Tokyo Station to Kasai Rinkai Koen Station - JR Keiyo Line

Weather: Cloudy-Overcast, Rainy Periods, Cool, Light-Strong Breeze

Time: 12.30pm - 2.30pm

Birds: Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Northern Sparrowhawk, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Common Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Oriental Turtle Dove, Barn Swallow, Brown-eared Bulbul, Bull-headed Shrike, Dusky Thrush, Jungle Crow, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Common Reed Bunting

Comments: Barn Swallow near the entrance makes for a good start after the disappointment of Yatsuhigata. At the observation centre a high flying raptor is identified as a Northern Sparrowhawk by the centre guides, confirmed as a bird seen here before due to the pattern of missing feathers in the wing.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 78 Species


Location: Yatsuhigata Tidal Flat, Narahino, Chiba Prefecture

Access: Shinjuku Station to Tokyo Station - JR Chuo Line. Tokyo Station to Minami-Funabashi Station - JR Keiyo Line. Walk to Observation Centre from North side of Minami-Funabashi Station - 20 minutes

Weather: Cloudy, Cool, Light-Strong Breeze

Time: 9.30am - 12.00pm

Birds: Little Grebe, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Great Knot, Common Sandpiper, Far Eastern Curlew, Common Black-headed Gull, Rock Dove, Oriental Turtle Dove, White Wagtail, Brown-eared Bulbul, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Oriental Greenfinch, Common Reed Bunting

Comments: As we approach the sky is blackened by hundreds of waders as they depart Yatsuhigata for wading opportunities elsewhere. Thankful for what's left, we identify a pair of Great Knot and a single sleepy Far Eastern Curlew.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 75 Species

Saturday, April 01, 2006

...where are the birds?

Location: Kodomo no Kuni, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

Access: Shinjuku Station to Chuo-Rinkan Station - Odakyu Line. Chuo-Rinkan Station to Nagatsuta Station - Tokyu Denentoshi Line. Nagatsuta Station to Kodomonokuni Station - Kodomonokuni Line

Weather: Clear, Cool-Warm, Still

Time: 9.50am - 12.30pm

Birds: Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Oriental Turtle Dove, Rock Dove, Brown-eared Bulbul, Dusky Thrush, Japanese Bush Warbler, Varied Tit, Great Tit, Japanese White-eye, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Oriental Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Jungle Crow

Comments: Cherry blossoms and people in great abundance, but where are the birds? Despite the poor showing, it was nice to hear the Japanese Bush Warbler (Uguisu) however. Usually hidden in scrub, come spring, the Uguisu comes into the open with a song that is Japan's "theme-tune" for spring. Also known as the Japanese Nightingale, its droppings are an old traditional Japanese beauty treatment - its fame extended no doubt by Dave Barry in the hilarious "Dave Barry Does Japan".

Links: The Nightingale Facial - Asian Wall Street Journal, December 14th-16th, 2001