Snow Geese

Snow Goose

Not good photos but there has been a small flock of about 20 Snow Geese near Onuma the last week or so. I got to see them this morning.

Dodgy light and I only had a short window of time but I managed to find them and fire off a few record shots in the gloomy early morning conditions.

This is a species that occurs on passage further north and east in Hokkaido but is pretty rare down here. It was a welcome addition to my Japanese list although I had seen one before in the UK: in Pilling about 32 years ago………..

Snow Goose

Winter not far away……….

Eurasian Nuthatch

Flocks of Whooper Swan were at Yakumo and Onuma and the first Eagles of the season (7 or 8 White-tailed Eagles) were at the former site.

Otherwise rather quiet: Mountain Hawk Eagle and 8 species of gull were at Yakumo and there was a large flock of Black-necked Grebe at Onuma as well as common woodland species such as the above Nuthatch.

Winter is just around the corner…………..

Spring Geese

Bean Goose

Lots of geese around this weekend: several hundred at Onuma. Mainly White-fronted Geese on Sunday and mainly Bean Geese (above) on Monday. They were very wary and stayed out in the middle of a big ice-free part of the lake. Not many photo opps……..

One thing I’ve been doing religiously with geese flocks over the years is check for rarities. Snow Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose and Cacckling Goose are the 3 possibilities. Until yesterday I’d always drawn blanks but look what I found…………..

Cackling Goose

3 Cackling Goose in among all the Pintails. A totally crappy record shot but my first lifer in over 18 months!

A White-tailed Eagle flushed the wildfowl and the 3 birds disappeared and I couldn’t relocate them. At least I got a record shot. Also in among the wildfowl were several Baikal Teal, also too far off for any pics sadly.

Not Mallards

Falcated Duck

At Onuma a large flock of Mallard joins the Whooper Swan on a small ice free patch of the lake every year. Other species join too: there are usually a few Smew, Goosander and Goldeneye and for several winters a small group of Pintail. Bean and White-fronted Goose sometimes put in an appearance too.

3 years ago I noticed small numbers of Falcated Duck on the edge of the group, generally just out of camera range. And 2 years ago there were small numbers of Baikal Teal, again out of range.

Baikal Teal

Last year both species did come close enough for some pictures (but sadly not any Baikal drakes) So far this winter neither species has appeared……………….

Ring-necked Duck

Both the first 2 species are scarce but not especially rare in this part of the world. The female Ring-necked Duck came for 2 consecutive winters. Again, well out of camera range but a nice bird to see and a bona fide rarity.

Some Smew


Smew are regular winter visitors to Onuma (and also Yakumo). They tend to be a bit shy and difficult to photograph: they take flight very easily especially at Onuma.


These shots are from 2 years ago when a small group were often resting on a small unfrozen pond in late winter. It was next to the road and they often flew off and returned soon after providing lots of BIF chances.

This is one of many species that occur in the UK but are much commoner here. I only ever saw one in the UK actually.