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.