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Great Spotted Woodpecker

A Great Spotted Woodpecker in the local park earlier this week.

Not much abut in town: Red-flanked Bluetail, a few Dusky Thrush, some Asian House Martin.

Well I say there’s not much about but some people saw 2 Oriental White Storks a few days ago somewhere in town. It was even in the local newspaper. I haven’t had the chance to look for them and no doubt they’ve gone now.



Now is the time to start thinking about spring rarities. Like the above Hoopoe in front of my apartment several years ago. I’ve seen 3 in Hakodate over the years (and also 2 in Onuma). This is quite a common bird in mainland Asia but is a much sought after spring visitor here………..


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.

Dusky Thrush

Dusky Thrush

A Dusky Thrush near my apartment yesterday. Not many birds in town at all: Wren, Eastern Great Tit, Common Teal…………….only. In Kamiiso there were the usual common winter species with the addition of a couple of Smew. In the sky there were several groups of geese flying north. Bean Goose and White-fronted Goose, nothing rarer. At Onuma there were 3 White-tailed Eagles and a few Pintail in among the duck flock.



Yet another bird we usually see in town this time of year but is absent so far this winter.

Bullfinches appear in early February most years to nibble on the cherry blossom buds in the trees near my apartment.

The main race is Japan is very different to that in the UK, as you can see from this picture below.


They breed in the high mountains in central Hokkaido and move to lower elevations in winter.

Birds with more red/pink on the breast are invaders from continental Asia and the 2 races form mixed flocks.


There is still time for them to appear in 2019.

These photos were taken 2 years ago.



Another bird I usually see plenty of in winter is Hawfinch, They are common, even in the middle of town. This year is very slow however and I haven’t seen any in town since late autumn. Where have they all gone?

The above photo was taken in a local park a couple of years ago. This is generally a pretty shy species but occasionally some individuals, such as this one, show no fear………


Daurian Redstart

A Daurian Redstart near my apartment from quite a few years ago. Some winters there are many small birds in town but not this year. I haven’t seen this species since November (it is usually a common winter visitor) and there are no Waxwings, winter finches or buntings.

No car last few days so I was stuck in town. There were 6 species of duck on the river at the weekend as well as Coot, Grey Heron and Great Egret but the only passerines of note were a handful of Dusky Thrush, several Eastern Great Tit and a lone Varied Tit. It is pretty cold (although not unusually so) and very icy underfoot: not ideal for walking around Hakodate looking to find any small birds.