Spring Eagle

White-tailed Eagle

There were 2 White-tailed Eagles at Onuma and they caused much panic and consternation among the wildfowl…………….

In addition to the geese. ducks and swans there were Little Grebe, Black, Grey-headed and Great-spotted Woodpeckers, Siskin, Dusky Thrush, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron and Great Egret.

Hakodate was very quiet. Black-necked Grebe at Kamiiso, my first Osprey of the year at Moheji and a White-tailed Eagle at Shiriuchi were the only noteworthy species.

White-tailed Eagle

At least spring is well on its way……………

Quiet up north

Northern Pintail

Oshamanbe is the most northern location we regularly visist. It is particularly good at this time of year but on Sunday we had to endure sleet, hail, snow and rain. Not ideal for photography.

Birds around included Dunlin, Black and Stenjeger’s Scoters, White-tailed Eagle (only 1), Great Egret, Red-necked Grebe, lots of ducks including big flocks of Pintail (above), Whooper and Bewick’s Swans and White-fronted Geese,

The Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls are coming into summer plumage now. Here’s one of the latter.

Glaucous-winged Gull

Spring Geese

Bean Goose

Lots of geese around this weekend: several hundred at Onuma. Mainly White-fronted Geese on Sunday and mainly Bean Geese (above) on Monday. They were very wary and stayed out in the middle of a big ice-free part of the lake. Not many photo opps……..

One thing I’ve been doing religiously with geese flocks over the years is check for rarities. Snow Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose and Cacckling Goose are the 3 possibilities. Until yesterday I’d always drawn blanks but look what I found…………..

Cackling Goose

3 Cackling Goose in among all the Pintails. A totally crappy record shot but my first lifer in over 18 months!

A White-tailed Eagle flushed the wildfowl and the 3 birds disappeared and I couldn’t relocate them. At least I got a record shot. Also in among the wildfowl were several Baikal Teal, also too far off for any pics sadly.


Great Egret

A Great Egret on the river near my apartment this morning. Nothing else around, the theme of this winter.

Further downstream the river has been ‘improved’. This means removal of trees in Japan. Yes, Japanese civild servants think a barren concrete garbage strewn river is better than riparian woodland. The stretch they destroyed was where I have seen Night Herons over the last 12 or so years. I will never see them there again. No more singing Oriental Reed Warblers this summer, no more migrants sheltering there in spring and autumn. To add insult to injury the workers who chopped down the trees have left all the garbage that people routinely throw there. Tyres, futons, plastic bottles, beer cans, rice cookers, old TVs etc. Piles of it everywhere. Not their ‘responsibility’ I suppose. I did hear the trees were removed because of fears of flooding (ie the uprooted trees could block the river). I’m not sure about this: I suspect it is just civil servants spending money at the end of the tax year.

The stretch closest to my apartment still has a few trees. I’m sure a civil servant in some office has his inkan poised ready to stamp his approval to remove those. I plan to move next year anyway, I hope I’m not around to see the final trees removed.

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Offshore at Oshamanbe, and several other places, there are rafts of this species in winter and spring. Stenjeger’s Scoter, a split from the White-winged Scoter in America and Velvet Scoter in Europe.

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Usually they are well offshore and never approach the ports but there were some of them right by the sea wall in the port at Oshamanbe on Sunday.

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Whilst these photos are nothing special, they are easily the best I’ve managed of this species.

Other stuff around included Black-throated Diver, Falcated Duck, Red-necked and Great-crested Grebes (the latter coming into summer plumage), Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls and the usual common stuff. Except small birds of course.

There were also some dolphins (or porpoises) at the edge of the port: must have been a lot of fish around.