Wednesday 23 December 2015

Update from Kyushu

A few images from a productive few days on Kyushu below. Full coverage of our Japan trip will feature as an illustrated daily diary on this blog when I'm back and have chance to sort through my images properly - I'll also include galleries of certain species as and when I get round to it.

We've had two great days of weather on Kyushu, although today has been truly atrocious - the rain didn't stop and the light has been poor at best. So far we're not doing too well for targets with Japanese Murrelet, Japanese Woodpigeon and Scaly-sided Merganser not seen - though the latter hasn't been seen by anyone so far this winter.

Black-tailed Gull, Kadogawa

One of the many Black-eared Kites coming to bread at Kadogawa

Forest Wagtail at Miike

Four of an impressive 250+ Saunders' Gulls seen at Yatsushiro

Hooded Cranes getting an absolute drenching in the appalling conditions at Arasaki today

Oh, and for the record, the Baer's Pochard was back on its swimming pool in Suminoe Park, Osaka, on Saturday morning - I had some great views and will post more pics when I'm home.

Friday 18 December 2015

First day in Japan

It's been one hell of a slog to get to where I am sat currently (in the Best Western Hotel at Suminoekoen, Osaka). In fact to be precise it was a slog lasting 25 hours from take-off at Heathrow to arriving at Suminoekoen station this afternoon, involving two planes and three trains. Although I was exhausted, my first ride on the Shinkansen woke me up - not only for the speed but for the views of Japan as we journeyed south, highlighted by the glorious sight of Mount Fuji on a clear day.

Mt Fuji from the Tōkaidō Shinkansen

After this quite considerable effort to reach Osaka on my first afternoon, I was naturally a little disappointed not to find the returning drake Baer's Pochard at his favoured haunt in Suminoe Park. And what a strange place it is, for one of the world's rarest birds - a swimming pool!

Prime habitat for critically endangered birds

Though the light was already fading by late afternoon, the park provided some reasonable compensation (for a Brit) in the form of a handful of Dusky Thrushes and Oriental Turtle Doves, as well as a few new birds for me: Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Oriental Greenfinch and Eastern Great Tit, all of which fall between 'common' and 'complete trash' in terms of Japanese status. Black-backed Wagtails (lugens) were pretty nice as well, with one sitting still for long enough at dusk for me to rattle off a few record shots at high ISO.

 Eastern Spot-billed Duck

Motacilla (alba) lugens

Right, I'm off to bed.

Saturday 12 December 2015

King's Lynn Iceland Gull

The drizzle was falling and the light absolutely atrocious when I called in at Fisher Fleet, King's Lynn, late morning on Saturday. The Iceland Gull was on view instantly so I fired off a few shots before jumping back in the car. Barely more than records, the flight shots were taken ISO 1000 and probably should have been higher - though this bird could be great for pics if we ever get a properly sunny day.

Friday 11 December 2015

Shore Larks

Like many other scarce British birds, I don't actually remember the last time I saw a Shore Lark in Britain, so it was a real pleasure to spend a little bit of time with this trio - never alone, but you wouldn't expect that in Norfolk, even on a Friday afternoon.