Sunday, May 21, 2006

Whimbrel and Terek Sandpiper

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: Clear, Warm, Light Breeze

Time: 1.00pm - 3.00pm

Birds: Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Common Teal, Northern Shoveler, Greater Scaup, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Rock Dove, Barn Swallow, Brown-eared Bulbul, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Comments: The ducks have all but gone, but Greater Scaup seen via scope off shore, and Eurasian Coot now ruling the man made lakes around the observation center. At the hides, take a ticket as photographers queue to get a spot at one of the portals overlooking the mud flats and numerous Dunlin and Grey-tailed Tattler, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Terek Sandpiper and 2 Little Ringer Plover.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 112 Species

Waders, Waders, Waders

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: Clear, Warm, Light Breeze

Time: 9.30am - 12.00pm

Birds: Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Common Teal, Spot-billed Duck, Black-winged Stilt, Lesser Sandplover, Grey Plover, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Little Tern, Rock Dove, White Wagtail, Brown-eared Bulbul, Great Tit, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Oriental Greenfinch

2006 Japan Bird Count: 110 Species

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hakodate to Aomori by Ferry

In Aomori Bay - view of the Aomori coast - May 10, 2006Location: Hakodate Bay - Tsugaru Straits - Aomori Bay

Access: Higashi Nihon Ferry from Hakodate to Aomori (3h50m)

Weather: Overcast, Intermittent Rain, Cool-Cold, Light Breeze, Sea Calm

Time: 2.50pm - 6.40pm

Birds: Red-throated Diver, Short-tailed Shearwater, Temminck's Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-tailed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Ancient Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet

Comments: Red-throated Diver and Red-breasted Merganser in Hakodate Bay are birds not seen on the trip to Hakodate on the May 8th (Monday).

2006 Japan Bird Count: 103 Species

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hakodate Holiday - Hakodateyama Day 2

Bird Hide on Hakodateyama - May 9, 2006Location: Hakodateyama, Hakodate, Hokkaido

Access: Walking

Weather: Clear, Cool-Warm, Still-Light Breeze

Time: 8.00am - 1.00pm

Birds: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Brown-eared Bulbul, Siberian Blue Robin, Short-tailed Bush Warbler, Japanese Bush Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Narcissus Flycatcher, Marsh Tit, Varied Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Japanese White-eye, Carrion Crow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Oriental Greenfinch, Black-faced Bunting

Comments: Starting on the Kannon Course up Hakodateyama this morning, we are immediately rewarded with a male Siberian Blue Robin, a small group of very vocal Marsh Tit, Eastern Crowned Warbler, and Sakhalin Leaf Warbler hiding in low thick scrub. A single Asian Brown Flycatcher atop a tree in sunny open woodland is spotted halfway up, and towards the top a Blue-and-white Flycatcher.

One of many squirrels along the walking trail - May 9, 2006From the top of Hakodateyama we head back down via the Kyutozandou Course, and from a well-positioned bird hide along the path we spot a male Great Spotted Woodpecker bathing, various Tits, and a Short-tailed Bush Warbler. A short distance from the hide we come across another Short-tailed Bush Warbler, which forages only a metre from us without any fear, providing an excellent opportunity to study him up-close. He even gives us a short vocal display.

We spot two magnificant male Narcissus Flycatcher along this path; while all across the mountain Japanese Bush Warbler sing from the tops of open trees, and Carrion Crow dominate.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 102 Species

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hakodate Holiday - Hakodateyama Day 1

Hakodateyama from the Senjoujiki Lookout - May 8, 2006Location: Cape Tachimachi to Hakodateyama, Hakodate, Hokkaido

Access: Walking

Weather: Light Cloud, Cool, Light Breeze

Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm

Birds: Temminck's Cormorant, Black-tailed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Brown-eared Bulbul, Red-flanked Bluetail, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Varied Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Japanese White-eye, Carrion Crow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Black-faced Bunting, Siberian Meadow Bunting

Comments: Starting at Cape Tachimachi we followed a walking trail that took us to Senjoujiki Lookout. Here we find male and female Great Spotted Woodpecker, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, one female Red-flanked Bluetail, and our first Eurasian Nuthatch. Eastern Crowned Warbler are especially numerous. From here the walking trails take us to the peak of Hakodateyama (334 m), where we stop to rest and take in the view as day turns into dusk turns into night.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 97 Species

Aomori to Hakodate by Ferry

Location: Aomori Bay - Tsugaru Straits - Hakodate Bay

Access: Higashi Nihon Ferry from Aomori to Hakodate (3h50m)

Weather: Cloudy, Cool-Cold, Strong Breeze, Sea Choppy

Time: 9.10am - 1.00pm

Birds: Short-tailed Shearwater, Temminck's Cormorant, Black-tailed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Ancient Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet

Comments: Choppy seas but a relatively smooth ride on the Higashi Nihon Ferry from Aomori Bay over the Tsugaru Straits and into Hakodate Bay. Ancient Murrelet and Rhinoceros Auklet are frequent sightings in Aomori Bay. Rhinoceros Auklet are more numerous and sit on the edge of areas set with fishing nets.

Short-tailed Shearwater (Slender-billed Shearwater) - regular sightings throughout journey - difficult to seperate from Sooty Shearwater but identification made on the rapid and erratic flight, and the mainly all-dark underwing linings.

Temminck's Cormorant appear close to Hakodate. Gulls frequent in Aomori and Hakodate Bays.

Link: Separation of Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters

2006 Japan Bird Count: 96 Species

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Aomori Holiday - Oohoshi

Oohoshi Shrine in Aomori City was a brief stop on returning from Goshizawakoen to view the Cherry Blossoms and Torii. In one Cherry Blossom tree we find a male & female Red-cheeked Starling.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 93 Species

Aomori Holiday - Goshizawakoen

Location: Goshizawakoen, Goshizawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori-ken

Access: Car

Weather: Overcast, Cool, Still

Time: 1.00pm - 2.30pm

Birds: Brown Thrush, Short-tailed Bush Warbler, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Japanese White-eye, Oriental Greenfinch

Comments: After staring for half an hour at their silhouetted bellies and under-tail covets against the blindingly diffused sunlight of an overcast sky, and with a seriously stiff neck from looking straight up; I had all but given up hope on a positive identification when one bird suddenly flew down low enough from the top of a leafless cedar and showed me his double wing bars, and golden crown - at last, what I had suspected, here was Japans snallest bird, the Goldcrest.

What the mountain top did not give us in number, surely made up for in presenting us with 4 new species for the year - several Goldcrest, a dozen Brown Thrush, a couple of Coal Tit, and a Short-tailed Bush Warbler that we only saw fleetingly but which was easily distinguished by its repeated insect like ascending si-si-si call.

Returning to the observatory built over two levels and decked out with scopes on the top floor, my wifes parents reported having seen an Oriental Turtle Dove and a Narcissus Flycatcher.

2006 Japan Bird Count: 92 Species

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Aomori Holiday - Ashinokoen

Location: Ashinokoen, Kanagi-machi, Goshogawa-rashi, Aomori-ken

Access: Car

Weather: Clear, Cool-Warm, Light Breeze

Time: 11.30am - 12.30pm

Birds: Black Kite, Barn Swallow, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Comments: Ashino-koen (Ashi Park) at Kanagi in the Tsugaru Peninsula, is one of Japan's 100 best sites for viewing Cherry Blossom; but alas, on the occasion of the Cherry Blossom Festival today, the blossoms are still mere buds.

After lunch, and a shamisen concert, we take the opportunity to take a stroll around the 120 acre (50 Ha) lake, Ashino-ko. Picturesque with suspension and floating bridges, it is all but devoid of bird life. Not a duck graces the blue-green water, and we have all but given up on seeing any birds at all when suddenly we find two new birds for the year list.

By the edge of the lake Blue-and-white Flycatcher dart across the water from bank to bank, swooping on any insects in their path. Returned from South-east Asia where it winters, this migratory songbird breeds in Japan (as well as Korea, China and Russia).

In a small reed covered corner of the lake an Eastern Crowned Warbler proves difficult to watch, but is easily identified by its faint median crown-stripe. Excellent pictures and descriptions are found at
this website.

Links: Identification of Japanese Phylloscopus; map

2006 Japan Bird Count: 88 Species