Very quiet out east

Japanese Crane

We went to east Hokkaido last week but the birding was very very quiet. In Urahoro the first geese had arrived: small groups of (Taiga?) Bean and Cackling Geese mainly…………..with a few Pacific Golden Plover, a lone Ruff and several Japanese Crane keeping them company.

Taiga Bean Goose

We were a tad early I guess. Lake Furen/Nemuro/Kiritappu were as pleasant as always but there really weren’t many birds around. Summer stuff gone, winter stuff barely arrived yet. Most interesting thing was a family of Sea Otters but they were too far away in the gloom for any decent photos.

The next day………..

Bean Goose

The weather was much better the second day in Urahoro. At first the geese were in a different area from the day before. Except for a few Whooper Swan and Bean Geese. The long neck/bill and head shape seem to indicate Taiga Bean Goose.

Bean Goose

But presently other species arrived including Cackling Geese. We had seen these flocks newly arrive around 4 weeks previously.

Cackling Goose

East Hokkaido September Trip #17

Bean Goose

So Bean Goose has been split into 2 species: Taiga and Tundra Bean Goose. And they both appear to have eastern and western subspecies just to confuse matters even further. Until now I’ve just ticked them all as ‘Bean Goose’ and left it at that.

I’d assumed almost all ‘Bean’ Geese passing through Hokkaido were Taiga Bean Goose. They have longer bills. longer necks and a less rounded head than Tundra. I think.

So the top one I’m pretty sure is Taiga and I think these below may be Tundras.

Bean Goose

East Hokkaido September Trip #14

Japanese Crane

On our way back from east Hokkaido we went through Urahoro and turned off the main road onto a quiet road for a ‘short cut’…………….

We noticed some Japanese Cranes in a field so we stopped to take a look.

Bean Goose

Then we noticed lots of geese at the back of the field with more arriving all the time. Just White-fronts and Beans I thought. But no…………………

Cackling Goose

A foggy morning in Onuma

White-fronted Goose

On Monday morning we went back to Onuma to check the huge geese/swan flocks.

But it was foggy……………

Some of them were resting on the lake.

Bewick’s Swan
Bean Goose

Also around were lots of ducks including large numbers of Pintail, 2 Steller’s Sea Eagle, 1 White-tailed Eagle, several Great Egret and a pair of Japanese Wagtail.

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.