Not a great photo but this was one of a flock of 40 or so Common Crossbill we saw today. I also saw 2 flocks of Waxwing (one group was Bohemian, not sure about the other one). These are not the first Crossbills or Waxwings I’ve seen this year: is early 2020 going to bring some interesting small birds? 2019 was very poor…………….
I usually don’t see Crossbills until well into the winter but this morning there were 5 or 6 of them in Goryokaku Park. They briefly flew down low for a drink before they disappeared back into the tall pines.
Also around in the park were a lost looking Japanese Green Pigeon on its way south, a few Coal Tit, a lone Hawfinch, 1 Coot, 2 Wigeon and a lone Pochard. On the river nearby a Red-flanked Bluetail was flitting around in the undergrowth, a flock of Grey Starling were feasting on some berries and I could hear a Brown Dipper warbling away in the shadows.
Last weekend was very quiet but among the usual stuff there were lots of Pintail and Wigeon at Kamiiso as well as Great Scaup, Great Crested Grebe, Great Egret, a flock of Black-headed Gull and a lone Glaucous-winged Gull.
So it’s 2019. 5 years ago there was a big invasion of Common Crossbill into Hakodate. They were everywhere. 20014 was a Crossbill year when the above photo was taken. 5 years before that in 2009 we had another big Crossbill invasion when the following pic was taken.
5 years before that there was another big invasion. I didn’t have a camera in 2004 though. So do they erupt at 5 year intervals? In all those years flocks appeared in the local parks in mid February. I hope this year will be a repeat. There are precious few small birds around so far this winter ……….
Here’s another one from 5 years ago.
They occur most years in smallish numbers, I suspect those may be resident birds moving around Hokkaido and the big flocks in invasion years may be from the Asian mainland. But I may be wrong.