A rainy end to a week-off

Great Spotted Woodpecker

I’ve just had 8 days off in what is usually the best birding time of the year. The last day, today, was very dark and rainy. All shots are with high ISOs and low shutter speeds.

2020 wasn’t a vintage year birds in for Golden Week: let’s hope things improve as May progresses.

This afternoon we were on one of the capes east of town. As well as the resident woodpeckers there were a few migrants around including this bedraggled looking Siberian Rubythroat. Not a great photo but one of my 2 favourite passerine species.

Siberian Rubythroat

I photograph this species every summer on its breeding grounds in north Hokkaido. Will I be able to get up there this summer with all this Covid19 chaos? This might be the only shot I get in 2020.

My other favourite passerine species is Common Crossbill and there were 3 of them at the cape too. Not often I see both species on the same day in the same place. In fact maybe today was a first in that regard.

Common Crossbill

Again, a lousy photo after the glut of Crossbills I had earlier this year. But this species occurs very erratically so I don’t know when the next shot will be.

A grey day out east

Steller’s Sea Eagle

We were east of town today under heavy grey skies. Not great for bird photos but there were lots of interesting birds around. 4 species of goose (a record for me in Japan!): in among the many skeins of White-fronted and Bean Goose heading north I found 3 Cackling Goose. There were also Brent Geese flocks feeding along the coast.

Lots of Common Crossbill around as well as White-tailed, Steller’s Sea and Mountain Hawk-Eagles (only singles of the latter 2), Harlequin Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Glaucous-winged Gull, Red-breasted Merganser and Asian Rosy Finch.

Shame about the dark gloomy skies.

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

Back!

Asian Rosy Finch

There was a flock of 7 Asian Rosy Finch east of town today but they flew off before I could get a decent picture.

The local Steller’s Sea Eagle has returned there…………….

Steller’s Sea Eagle

Annoyingly it stayed high up on the hillside and didn’t do anything all afternoon.

Several White-tailed Eagles and 2 Mountain Hawk-Eagles were around as well.

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

A break from Waxwings

Harlequin Duck

I headed up to Yakumo yesterday and was amazed to find virtually no Eagles. Only about 6 or so, they’ve eaten all the Salmon they could find and have gone. I was very surprised: in the 19 or so winters I’ve been going up there, this is by far the earliest they’ve dispersed.

Not much else around there either. On the way back one of the ports at least had a few common birds like the above Harlequin and this Great Crested Grebe.

Great Crested Grebe

Today we went east of town to the Hawk-Eagle spot and there were 2 of them. This is an immature.

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

Other stuff around included White-tailed Eagle, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black-necked grebe and Peregrine.

The Waxwings were still in town this morning and I saw some in Yakumo and Esan this weekend too.

2019 Over

Black-legged Kittiwake

Another year almost over.

East of town one of the ports was full of Kittiwakes.

Black-legged Kittiwake

000’s of them but no Red-leggeds sadly.

Black-legged Kittiwake

The same influx happened 2 years ago at the same place.

Not much else around: White-tailed Eagle, Harlequin Duck, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-necked Grebe……….

The day before

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

Yesterday I was east of town again and the Mountain Hawk-Eagles were showing very well again. The male (above) tried to catch flyby gulls several times but was unsuccessful.

Also around the area were Peregrine, White-tailed Eagle, Harlequin Duck, Blue Rock Thrush, lots of Red-breasted Merganser offshore and tens of thousands of gulls: lots of Kittiwakes and Common Gulls mainly.

Earlier in the day at Onuma we saw Smew, a pair of White-tailed Eagles eating a freshly killed Mallard, various resident species including Black Woodpecker and son on…………

Meet the Mountain-Hawk family

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

I went east today to check on the Kittiwakes again but they were mostly offshore. Luckily the Mountain Hawk-Eagles put on a good show. The above one is the male.

This is the female, as she nonchalantly nabbed a young Slaty-backed Gull out of the sky………

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

Could have been a great pic if I’d reacted a bit quicker, by the time I’d processed what was going on and got the camera up the chance had passed.

This is a juvenile bird, I guess a son/daughter of the above pair?

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

I was using the 1.4 teleconverter. Again , some of the better shots were a little mushy and most of the others were out of focus. It seems to work Ok at Yakumo where the eagles fly more at eye level often in very nice light but the shots of these birds in the sky leave me a bit underwhelmed. Maybe I should take the teleconverter off next time……

000’s of Kittiwakes

Black-legged Kittiwake

There were absolutely loads of Kittiwakes east of town today as well as seemingly equally large numbers of Common Gulls.

All the Kittiwakes that came close enough to ID were Black-legged. They were a scruffy bunch.

Black-legged Kittiwake

Hopefully they’ll stick around and I can find a Red-legged one.

Nasty weather but quite a few birds were present on the east coast around to Onuma: Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Peregrine, White-tailed and Steller’s Sea Eagles, Eastern Buzzard, Harlequin Duck, Red-necked Grebe etc. At Onuma it was very quiet in the late afternoon gloom but Smew and Goshawk were both around.

Black-legged Kittiwake