Another one from the roadside

Bull-headed Shrike

Another very common roadside bird of summer is Bull-headed Shrike.

The one above is a male.

The only other 2 Shrike species likely to be seen in Hokkaido are the rare Brown Shrike (which I’ve only ever seen twice, another summer visitor) and Great Grey Shrike, a rare winter visitor. I haven’t seen the latter although many years ago I did see a Shrike swoop in front of the car one January. Bull-headed Shrikes are almost absent in winter. Wish we’d stopped the car and checked that individual……..

The way home

Brown Dipper

A Brown Dipper on the way back from our short camping week earlier this week.

Other stuff we saw were Grey-tailed Tattler, Osprey and Oriental Honey Buzzard. Black-browed Reed Warblers have arrived en masse and there were also quite a few singing Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler too (including one near my apartment).

Nearer home the only thing of interest was this lone Little Egret looking miserable in the rain (one of only 2 rainy days all month).

Little Egret

Quiet end to Spring

Lesser Sand Plover

Well that was a pretty slow spring. No rarities and even the common stuff passed straight through. The weather was just too nice………….

The only waders around at the weekend were Lesser Sand Plover near town, lots of Grey-tailed Tattler everywhere and Dulin and Turnstone at Oshamanbe where there were also 6 species of Gull around including a Black-legged Kittiwake. Rhinoceros Auklet were offshore at Kaminokuni and Hakodate and Black-browed Reed Warbler, Siberian Blue Robin and Japanese Robin put in their first appearances of 2019.

Grey-tailed Tattler

Still slow

Grey-tailed Tattler

Spring migration is still very slow. The calm sunny weather over the last couple of weeks might have meant most of the migrants have passed straight through. Today near my apartment there was a lone Asian Brown Flycatcher and yesterday in the west of town there were 2 Grey-tailed Tattler, 1 Brent Goose, I Goosander, 1 Wigeon and 1 Vega Gull.

I’ve also done something to my leg/back that is making walking difficult. It’s been present on and off for several weeks now. Probably sciatica and hopefully time will heal it…………..

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?

Some spring Grebes

Black-necked Grebe

There were 7 Black-necked Grebes in one of the loacl ports this afternoon and some were well into their summer plumage……….

Black-necked Grebe
Black-necked Grebe

This is a common enough local species that I often photograph and they look great at this time of year. Also around were 2 Great-crested Grebe, 6 species of gull including Glaucous Gull and my first Little-ringed Plover of the year.