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.
Today we went east of town to the Hawk-Eagle spot and there were 2 of them. This is an immature.
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.
Today we were in the Onuma area. At Sawara we took a walk on the grasslands: a cold bleak place with no birds except a few crows, kites and gulls. The location is famous for Gyyfalcons and other raptors as well as winter buntings. But not today.
A nearby port had a few ducks including half a dozen Harlequins. Also around were Red-necked, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Pelagic Cormorant but not much else.
At Onuma all 5 species of woodpecker were present as well as Smew, Whooper Swan, Eurasian Siskin, Dusky Thrush and Eurasian Treecreeper.
Some Harlequin Ducks taking flight in Sawara this morning. Not much on that stretch of coast: Black Scoter, Pelagic Cormorant, Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls and several White-tailed Eagles being the only noteworthy species.
Glauocus-winged Gulls are common winter visitors and can be easily seen on all the local coasts at this time of year. Like the paler Glaucous Gulls they seem so evocative of far northern latitudes. I wonder if this individual, in Sawara this afternoon, comes across Polar Bears or Snowy Owls in summer?
Very very cold today (a high of minus 10) and no birds of interest around near my apartment so here is another old pic.
Long-tailed Ducks are winter visitors to SW Hokkaido but not particularly common. I’ve only seen one so far this winter and it was way offshore. Around this time they do turn up in some of the local ports. Oshamanbe is the most reliable place to see them but the above drake was in Sawara a couple of years ago.
Really rotten weather today: sleet, rain and snow. I was with an old birding friend and we went to all the local spots over the weekend. A shame I was labouring under a nasty cold which combined with the aforementioned weather kind of scuppered any chances for nice photos. These Harlequin Ducks were taken in a brief 10 minute window when all precipitation stopped.
Birds seen at the weekend included 8 species of gull with large numbers of Black-legged Kittiwakes heading south off the Pacific coast, the usual raptors including both species of eagle at Esan, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Peregrine, Brent Goose, Black Woopecker and Smew.