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Back after a break

Common Kingfisher

Haven’t done much birding or photography recently. The above Kingfisher was at Yakumo this morning.

The last couple of weeks were pretty quiet. Rustic Buntings and Black-crowned Night Heron on the river near my apartment, Glaucous-winged, Vega and Black-headed Gulls at Kamiiso as well as a variety of returning duck species.

Last week we went up to Shikotsuko but nasty weather meant no decent photos. The first Glaucous Gull and White-fronted Goose of the season at Yakumo on the way back were the only noteworthy species of the trip………

A rainy Sunday

Black-crowned Night Heron

Sunday was a bit of a write-off because of the weather.

The Night Herons were still outside town as well as a few Pintail and a lone Osprey. In town last week near my apartment there were more Night Herons as well as Asian Brown Flycatcher, Brown Dipper, Varied Tit and Bull-headed Shrike.

Still warm, quite looking forward to the first chilly morning of the season…………

A quiet end to summer

Black-crowned Night Heron

Summer is over, officially I guess. Heavy rain from the typhoon outside now but yesterday we were up in Yakumo/Oshamanbe. Lots of Great Egret around, Eastern Buzzards everywhere, small flocks of Common Teal and Pintail, the last flocks of hirundines at rivermouths: all signs of autumn.

Other stuff around included Peregrine, Osprey, Common Kingfisher and a handful of waders: 2 Red-necked Stint, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit.

The above Night Heron was near Hakodate, not a vintage day for photos.

The default one

I had a spare afternoon and checked out one of the local beaches. No car today so I had to take the train and lighter shorter lens.

Not much around: just a handful of Red-necked Stint, by far the commonest autumn shorebird in these parts.

Last week near my apartment there were a couple of Black-crowned Night Herons in the riverside vegetation and a few Asian Brown Flycatcher flitting around in the trees……………

A Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper

Very hot weather returned this weekend, somewhat surprisingly. It was even hotter than the hot spell last month.

It was hard work looking for waders on the beaches in such hot weather but I did find this Marsh Sandpiper just outside Hakodate yesterday.

Marsh Sandpiper

I saw loads of these in Hong Kong last spring but in Hokkaido they aren’t very numerous: I’ve seen them here maybe half a dozen times in all.

Marsh Sandpiper

Not much else around………….just a couple of Grey-tailed Tattler and a small flock of Red-necked Stint.

At Yakumo today it was even hotter and there were more waders around: several Common Greenshank, a small flock of Whimbrel with a couple of Eastern Curlew. 3 or 4 Ruddy Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, several Common Sandpiper, flocks of Mongolian Plover and Red-necked Stint, a lone Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Terek Sandpiper and best of all a lone Temincks Stint, a lifer for me. Sadly only the lowest quality record shots survived the cull.

Other stuff around included lots of Great Egret, the first autumn flocks of Common Teal, Osprey, Peregrine, Pacific Swift and all 3 hirundine species and a singing Black-browed Reed Warbler (!).

Bears

Brown Bear

Although my recent trip to east Hokkaido was pretty quiet birdwise I did get excellent views of Brown Bear. A mother and her 2 cubs were feeding right next to the road.

These photos were taken from the car. The bears caused a small traffic jam and a couple of park officials armed with bear spray were nervously looking on and telling people to stay in their cars.

After a few minutes the bears walked down the road a bit and disappeared back into the forest.

Brown Bears also occur in the Hakodate area (I’ve seen them a couple of times and often see tracks/scat) but sadly are often shot if they come near towns or villages.

*EDITED TO ADD* Apparently this is becoming a common occurence in Shiretoko and the officials are getting a bit worried about people getting too close and the bears becoming too accustomized to people/cars which may present problems in the future. This exact same sighting (and several others) was featured on a local news program showing the potential dangers of such encounters . The broadcast went on to show subsequent incidents with even larger traffic jams and people getting out of cars very close to bears.

In hindsight maybe we should have just driven past and not joined the line of cars. I don’t really know what should be done, I mean it’s pretty exciting to see a bear so close and a massive part of the attraction of Shiretoko is the fact there are bears there. Perhaps they should enforce a strict no stopping rule on parts of the road where bears are known to feed?

A late summer trip out east

Pacific Swift

We had a quick trip to east Hokkaido. Not the best time of year for birding there it must be said but we still saw a few interesting species.

Pacific Swift were abundant everywhere, the above photo was taken at Kiritappu. At Rausu the weather was awful but we did manage White-tailed Eagle and offshore Rhinoceros Auklet and Sooty Shearwater. Across the mountains in Utoro the weather was much better and here we could see Hazel Grouse, more White-tailed Eagles, Peregrine, Goshawk and the usual common resident species of this part of the world.

Notsuke was quiet: lone Terek Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Grey-tailed Tattler and more White-tailed Eagles. The latter were also at Lake Furen as well as White-throated Needletail and Japanese Crane.

Nosappu had Rhinoceros Auklet offshore as well as Harlequin Duck, Sooty Shearwater, Black Scoter and a Great Knot heading south. Kiritappu had more of the same…………..