Winter is almost here

Great Egret

Rather chilly the last few days and a change in the birds near my apartment: flocks of Hawfinch, a mixed flock of Varied, Coal, Eastern Great and Long-tailed Tits, Brown Dipper, the first Daurian Redstarts and Dusky Thrush of the winter and 3 species of heron including the above Great Egret perched atop someone’s house.

Autumn Crossbills

Common Crossbill

I usually don’t see Crossbills until well into the winter but this morning there were 5 or 6 of them in Goryokaku Park. They briefly flew down low for a drink before they disappeared back into the tall pines.

Common Crossbill

Also around in the park were a lost looking Japanese Green Pigeon on its way south, a few Coal Tit, a lone Hawfinch, 1 Coot, 2 Wigeon and a lone Pochard. On the river nearby a Red-flanked Bluetail was flitting around in the undergrowth, a flock of Grey Starling were feasting on some berries and I could hear a Brown Dipper warbling away in the shadows.

Last weekend was very quiet but among the usual stuff there were lots of Pintail and Wigeon at Kamiiso as well as Great Scaup, Great Crested Grebe, Great Egret, a flock of Black-headed Gull and a lone Glaucous-winged Gull.

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

A male Blue Rock Thrush to the west of town yesterday. Summer is starting and just the breeders remain now. Other noteworthy species around included Kentish Plover and a few Rhinoceros Auklet close inshore chasing the sardines. Not quite close enough for any decent photos although one did pop very briefly nearby the port.

Rhinoceros Auklet

Otherwise just the regular summer stuff around: Reed and Chestnut-eared Buntings, Oriental Reed Warblers and lots of Siberian Stonechats.

Siberian Stonechat

Back to normal

Great Spotted Woodpecker

A Great Spotted Woodpecker in the local park earlier this week.

Not much abut in town: Red-flanked Bluetail, a few Dusky Thrush, some Asian House Martin.

Well I say there’s not much about but some people saw 2 Oriental White Storks a few days ago somewhere in town. It was even in the local newspaper. I haven’t had the chance to look for them and no doubt they’ve gone now.



Now is the time to start thinking about spring rarities. Like the above Hoopoe in front of my apartment several years ago. I’ve seen 3 in Hakodate over the years (and also 2 in Onuma). This is quite a common bird in mainland Asia but is a much sought after spring visitor here………..


Great Egret

A Great Egret on the river near my apartment this morning. Nothing else around, the theme of this winter.

Further downstream the river has been ‘improved’. This means removal of trees in Japan. Yes, Japanese civild servants think a barren concrete garbage strewn river is better than riparian woodland. The stretch they destroyed was where I have seen Night Herons over the last 12 or so years. I will never see them there again. No more singing Oriental Reed Warblers this summer, no more migrants sheltering there in spring and autumn. To add insult to injury the workers who chopped down the trees have left all the garbage that people routinely throw there. Tyres, futons, plastic bottles, beer cans, rice cookers, old TVs etc. Piles of it everywhere. Not their ‘responsibility’ I suppose. I did hear the trees were removed because of fears of flooding (ie the uprooted trees could block the river). I’m not sure about this: I suspect it is just civil servants spending money at the end of the tax year.

The stretch closest to my apartment still has a few trees. I’m sure a civil servant in some office has his inkan poised ready to stamp his approval to remove those. I plan to move next year anyway, I hope I’m not around to see the final trees removed.

Dusky Thrush

Dusky Thrush

A Dusky Thrush near my apartment yesterday. Not many birds in town at all: Wren, Eastern Great Tit, Common Teal…………….only. In Kamiiso there were the usual common winter species with the addition of a couple of Smew. In the sky there were several groups of geese flying north. Bean Goose and White-fronted Goose, nothing rarer. At Onuma there were 3 White-tailed Eagles and a few Pintail in among the duck flock.