Golden Week 2019 begins

Osprey

An Osprey at Kikonai yesterday. Not much around: Pacific Swift, Common Sandpiper, Black-throated Diver and Great Egret being the most interesting. Inland the first Eastern-crowned Warbler of the year and a few common species were present but that’s all.

Nearer Hakodate there were a few ducks still around including Pintail, Shoveler, Scaup and Wigeon as well as Great-crested Grebe offshore. 5 species of gull included summer plumaged Black-headed………..

Black-headed Gulls

There were also 11 Brent Geese………….

Brent Geese

Beautiful spring weather as you can see but when the weather is so clear migrants just pass straight through.

In Yakumo/Oshamanbe yesterday there were 40 or so White-fronted Geese, Great and Little Egret, a dozen or so species of duck including at least 8 Garganey, Eastern Marsh Harrier, osprey, Buff-bellied Pipit, Little-ringed Plover, a lone Whimbrel, and 7 species of gull.

That time of year again

Caspian Tern

We’re coming up to Golden Week, a Japanese holiday in late April/early May.

n Hakodate it usually co-incides with the cherry blossoms in full bloom and is also the start of the 2-3 week spring migration peak.

The last 3 years have seen local rarities turn up during Golden Week at exactly the same spot in the west of town. The above Caspian Tern showed up 2 years ago. This is a very scarce bird in north Japan and only the second one I’ve seen here. There were loads in Hong Kong when I visited earlier this month.

Ditto Black-faced Spoonbill, which turned up here 3 years ago. 1 of only 3 I’ve seen in Japan.

Black-faced Spoonbill

It was accompanied by a Eurasian Spoonbill. 1 of only 4 I’ve seen in Japan.

Eurasian Spoonbill

And last year this Saunder’s Gull stayed about a week. 1 of only 4 I’ve seen in Japan.

Saunder’s Gull

I wonder what will turn up this year?

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull

The best bird I saw on my short trip back to the UK was this Iceland Gull.

Iceland Gull

It was in Sefton Park, bang in the middle of Liverpool. A mild sunny day, this bird looked a bit out of place.

Iceland Gull

The only other time I’d seen this species was on another visit back to England 9 years ago. I think it has been lumped together with Thayer’s Gull though-a species I have seen several times in Hakodate.

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

Glaucous Gull

Glaucous Gull

A Glaucous Gull at Oshamanbe this sfternoon. It was a grey snowy day, not great for birding or bird photography. This species is one of my favourites as it is so evocative of northern latitudes and frozen places.

Other stuff around included Steller’s and White-tailed Eagles, White-winged and Black Scoter, Dunlin, Red-necked Grebe and Black-throated Diver.