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.

Another old haunt


I managed to revisit another old haunt when I was back in the Uk: Saeforth Dock Pools in Liverpool.

You need a permit to get in these days and the reserve has seen better days and is just about clinging on. It is surrounded by new buildings and a lot of the birds seem to have gone. It used to be famous for Little Gulls but apparently they no longer visit.

There were a few common ducks around like the above Gadwall and lots of Shelduck (I’ve only ever seen one in Japan).

Common Shelduck

There were also a few common waders around: Dunlin, Red Knot, Eurasian Curlew etc.

Quiet up north

Northern Pintail

Oshamanbe is the most northern location we regularly visist. It is particularly good at this time of year but on Sunday we had to endure sleet, hail, snow and rain. Not ideal for photography.

Birds around included Dunlin, Black and Stenjeger’s Scoters, White-tailed Eagle (only 1), Great Egret, Red-necked Grebe, lots of ducks including big flocks of Pintail (above), Whooper and Bewick’s Swans and White-fronted Geese,

The Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls are coming into summer plumage now. Here’s one of the latter.

Glaucous-winged Gull

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.

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Offshore at Oshamanbe, and several other places, there are rafts of this species in winter and spring. Stenjeger’s Scoter, a split from the White-winged Scoter in America and Velvet Scoter in Europe.

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Usually they are well offshore and never approach the ports but there were some of them right by the sea wall in the port at Oshamanbe on Sunday.

Stenjeger’s Scoter

Whilst these photos are nothing special, they are easily the best I’ve managed of this species.

Other stuff around included Black-throated Diver, Falcated Duck, Red-necked and Great-crested Grebes (the latter coming into summer plumage), Glaucous and Glaucous-winged Gulls and the usual common stuff. Except small birds of course.

There were also some dolphins (or porpoises) at the edge of the port: must have been a lot of fish around.