Still slow

Grey-tailed Tattler

Spring migration is still very slow. The calm sunny weather over the last couple of weeks might have meant most of the migrants have passed straight through. Today near my apartment there was a lone Asian Brown Flycatcher and yesterday in the west of town there were 2 Grey-tailed Tattler, 1 Brent Goose, I Goosander, 1 Wigeon and 1 Vega Gull.

I’ve also done something to my leg/back that is making walking difficult. It’s been present on and off for several weeks now. Probably sciatica and hopefully time will heal it…………..

Golden Week 2019 begins


An Osprey at Kikonai yesterday. Not much around: Pacific Swift, Common Sandpiper, Black-throated Diver and Great Egret being the most interesting. Inland the first Eastern-crowned Warbler of the year and a few common species were present but that’s all.

Nearer Hakodate there were a few ducks still around including Pintail, Shoveler, Scaup and Wigeon as well as Great-crested Grebe offshore. 5 species of gull included summer plumaged Black-headed………..

Black-headed Gulls

There were also 11 Brent Geese………….

Brent Geese

Beautiful spring weather as you can see but when the weather is so clear migrants just pass straight through.

In Yakumo/Oshamanbe yesterday there were 40 or so White-fronted Geese, Great and Little Egret, a dozen or so species of duck including at least 8 Garganey, Eastern Marsh Harrier, osprey, Buff-bellied Pipit, Little-ringed Plover, a lone Whimbrel, and 7 species of gull.

That time of year again

Caspian Tern

We’re coming up to Golden Week, a Japanese holiday in late April/early May.

n Hakodate it usually co-incides with the cherry blossoms in full bloom and is also the start of the 2-3 week spring migration peak.

The last 3 years have seen local rarities turn up during Golden Week at exactly the same spot in the west of town. The above Caspian Tern showed up 2 years ago. This is a very scarce bird in north Japan and only the second one I’ve seen here. There were loads in Hong Kong when I visited earlier this month.

Ditto Black-faced Spoonbill, which turned up here 3 years ago. 1 of only 3 I’ve seen in Japan.

Black-faced Spoonbill

It was accompanied by a Eurasian Spoonbill. 1 of only 4 I’ve seen in Japan.

Eurasian Spoonbill

And last year this Saunder’s Gull stayed about a week. 1 of only 4 I’ve seen in Japan.

Saunder’s Gull

I wonder what will turn up this year?

Some spring Grebes

Black-necked Grebe

There were 7 Black-necked Grebes in one of the loacl ports this afternoon and some were well into their summer plumage……….

Black-necked Grebe
Black-necked Grebe

This is a common enough local species that I often photograph and they look great at this time of year. Also around were 2 Great-crested Grebe, 6 species of gull including Glaucous Gull and my first Little-ringed Plover of the year.

Coal Tit

Coal Tit

A cold windy Sunday today. Several inches of snow fell last night but has now mostly melted.

I couldn’t find any geese at Onuma but there were still plenty of Swans (both species) and ducks. These included newly arrived Mandarin Ducks which were displaying in small groups. There were quite a few Eagles around too: at least 9 White-tailed Eagles and 1 adult Steller’s Sea Eagle.

Small birds were again few and far between but there were a few Siskin and Dusky Thrush at Onuma and the above Coal Tit was in a park just outside town.

A different Grebe

Slavonian Grebe

A Slavonian Grebe to the west of town this afternoon. This is a fairly common winter visitor although it occurs in far fewer numbers than the similar Black-necked Grebe.

Only common stuff around in the same area: the most noteworthy species were Whooper Swan, White-tailed Eagle, Glaucous-winged Gull, Great Egret and Black Scoter. Last weekend’s cold snap brought a few flocks of Dusky Thrush to town but nothing more interesting. Yet.