For a couple of winters there was a tame Peregrine at Sawara. You could walk right up to it. I have no idea why it was so confiding………..usually this is a shy species. After Black Kite this is probably the raptor species I most often see in Japan.
I waited a long time for a Mountain Hawk Eagle to flap over the ridge but eventually it came. Still pretty far off (and this photo is cropped quite a bit) but it was worth the wait. The light was much better than yesterday too.
This is an adult. The paler immature showed up too but that was even further away…………..
The port to the east of town had plenty of eagle action this afternoon but the light was just terrible. The Steller’s Sea Eagle swooped down into the port, grabbed some fish remains and then started feeding…………
The immature Mountain Hawk Eagle was also very active but no photos survived the cull (it was really really dark like I say). Other stuff around included Glaucous-winged Gull, Great Egret, Whooper Swan, White-tailed Eagle, Brent Goose, Harlequin Duck and Red-breasted Merganser.
A lone Steller’s Sea Eagle spends late winters on the hillside next to one of the ports east of town. It’s been there for quite a few years………..
It is the nearest reliable place to see this species near Hakodate. It doesn’t afford the same photo opps as those up at Yakumo but sometimes it perches quite low down and regularly flies around the hillside.
There were 3 White-tailed Eagles around as well as the Mountain Hawk Eagles and a lone Peregrine.
A first year Montain Hawk Eagle this afternoon above one of the ports east of town. Not great photos, heavy crops from 700mm. Every so often one or sometimes two appear over the ridge and flap lazily along the treeline.
There was an adult about too but that was even further away. This youngster was a bit frisky: it dive-bombed both a White-tailed and a Steller’s Sea Eagle…………
The Eagle saeaon is almost over in SW Hokkaido. There were only a few lethargic hungry looking ones at Yakumo. There are still plenty dotted around the coasts but the main viewing and photo spots are now mainly eagle-free zones. The above individual was near Oshamanbe by the side of the road.
4 years ago this immature Gyrfalcon spent the winter at Sawara. Sawara is a well-known place for this species. Ar the turn of the century a pair spent about 10 winters there and then nothing was seen of this magnificent bird until late 2013.
Another individual did appear at the same location a couple of years ago but it only stayed very briefly and was only seen by one person (who at least managed to get a photo). They periodically turn up all over Hokkaido but as they favour bleak snowy windwept underwatched coasts many probably get overlooked.
The odd coloration, tame behaviour and damaged tail feathers/wingtips led me to wonder if it was a hybrid /escapee. After much discussion with a falconer’s group on facebook I’m happy to call it a wild bird: the coloration can occur in the wild, tameness can be explained by lack of contact with humans and the damaged feathers can be explained by its struggles with prey on coarse sand or even concrete. Plus many falconers said a bird like this would be sporting rings and also be too valuable to let escape plus there are very few Gyrs or Gyr hybrids kept in Japan (apparently they don’t like humidity and often get sick). Breeders also said they didn’t believe it was a hybrid either.
Anyway……………………….surely it’s time for another to show up and ideally I’d like to find one myslelf. A pure white one would be nice.