A freezing start to 2021

Rustic Bunting

A very cold icy start to the year saw us heading east. A few small birds were around including Asian Rosy Finch and 3 Rustic Bunting.

Rustic Bunting

Usually in this area there are lots of Black-legged Kittiwakes at this time of year but not this winter. Gulls were surprisingly thin on the ground: a few Glaucous-winged and this lone Common Gull being the only vaguely interesting ones.

Common Gull

Other stuff around included Pelagic Cormorant, Brent Goose, Harlequin Duck, Peregrine, Red-breasted Merganser and Eastern Buzzard.

Eagle season begins

Steller’s Sea Eagle

The first eagle photo of any winter is always nice to have even if the photos in early to mid November are rarely any good. There were about 40 or so eagles of both species upstream at Yakumo but all high in the sky or on inaccessible stretches of the river.

A lot of common stuff around but nothing spectacular. Not a vintage day for photos either.

Glaucous Gull

Autumn sunshine

Harlequin Duck

Beautiful clear autumn weather the last few days and a clear change in some of the bird species. Harlequin Duck and Glaucous-winged Gulls gave reappeared on the coasts.

Glaucous-winged Gull

A flock of Whooper Swan were flying south yesterday as were lots of Eurasian Jay. Lots of common ducks on the rivers and Great Egrets are becoming more numerous. Northern Goshawk and Daurian Redstart were other noteworthy species near Esan.

Hakodate is pretty quiet: a flock of Rustic Bunting were in one of the local parks today and There are still some Night Herons on the river.

Black-crowned Night Heron

And the Esan area always seems to have a Peregrine…………..


A grey Monday in October

Common Kingfisher

A quiet day at Yakumo with a few slightly interesting species: 6 species of gull including Black-legged Kittiwake and Glaucous-winged Gull, several skuas way offshore (Pomarine I think), Great Egret, lots of Pintail and Wigeon, Stejneger’s Scoter………….

Among the gulls were lots of Vega Gull: a common passage migrant in Hokkaido.

Vega Gull

The Kingfishers posed for the camera………………

Common Kingfisher

At Onuma there was a big flock of swans in one corner of the lake but I couldn’t get a clear view from the car: they were probably Bewick’s on their way south.

East Hokkaido September Trip #8

Red-legged Kittiwake

A big typhoon hit east Hokkaido last week whilst we were there. It made us change our plans but on the day the typhoon hit I got messages that the typhoon had blown some pretty interesting seabirds into the port at Kiritappu (our original destination) so we braved the typhoon and headed down there…………….

Red-legged Kittiwake

2 birders, Neil and Richard, were already there and there were indeed lots of seabirds around. It was really windy, pretty dark and raining heavily.

Red-legged Kittiwakes are one of the most sought-after east Asian gulls and pretty soon one flew past and I got out of the car to brave the elements and managed to snap a few BIF record shots.

Red-legged Kittiwake


Chinese Pond Heron

A crap photo but quite a scarce bird in north Japan and the 300th species I’ve seen in Hokkaido.

A Chinese Pond Heron west of town today. It flew off and disappeared into the trees before I could get a decent shot.

Not much else around: lots of Osprey fishing off the coast, a couple of stray Great Scaup, flocks of Japanese Green Pigeon etc.

Large numbers of Black-tailed Gulls were hunting flying ants everywhere.

Black-tailed Gull