Some Harlequin Ducks taking flight in Sawara this morning. Not much on that stretch of coast: Black Scoter, Pelagic Cormorant, Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls and several White-tailed Eagles being the only noteworthy species.
Very very cold today (a high of minus 10) and no birds of interest around near my apartment so here is another old pic.
Long-tailed Ducks are winter visitors to SW Hokkaido but not particularly common. I’ve only seen one so far this winter and it was way offshore. Around this time they do turn up in some of the local ports. Oshamanbe is the most reliable place to see them but the above drake was in Sawara a couple of years ago.
At Onuma a large flock of Mallard joins the Whooper Swan on a small ice free patch of the lake every year. Other species join too: there are usually a few Smew, Goosander and Goldeneye and for several winters a small group of Pintail. Bean and White-fronted Goose sometimes put in an appearance too.
3 years ago I noticed small numbers of Falcated Duck on the edge of the group, generally just out of camera range. And 2 years ago there were small numbers of Baikal Teal, again out of range.
Last year both species did come close enough for some pictures (but sadly not any Baikal drakes) So far this winter neither species has appeared……………….
Both the first 2 species are scarce but not especially rare in this part of the world. The female Ring-necked Duck came for 2 consecutive winters. Again, well out of camera range but a nice bird to see and a bona fide rarity.
Smew are regular winter visitors to Onuma (and also Yakumo). They tend to be a bit shy and difficult to photograph: they take flight very easily especially at Onuma.
These shots are from 2 years ago when a small group were often resting on a small unfrozen pond in late winter. It was next to the road and they often flew off and returned soon after providing lots of BIF chances.
This is one of many species that occur in the UK but are much commoner here. I only ever saw one in the UK actually.