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hirobirder



just a little blog about myself, my rather ordinary life in hiroshima, the people and birds I meet, the things i do, see, eat and drink...that kind of thing!



Updated: 2014-10-03T13:10:06.993+09:00

 



A New Year

2008-01-01T00:08:55.677+09:00

I have neglected this blog since may of this year and indeed been traitorous enough to take my less than frequent ramblings across to Birdforum.However, as it is nearly 2008 I feel obliged to post something here and now about the past year birding and otherwise.The first two months of the year saw me in the UK, enjoying the winter gloom and a quick week-long side trip in the winter suntrying to reconnect with my family after so many years in Japan and fight a serious bout of depression. I did little in the way of birding, but did build bridges in the family and recover my mental faculties, more important for me in the long term!However, despte the serious nature of mission I did manage to catch up with one new bird for the UK , a drake American Wigeon at Strumpshaw Fen. my family indulged me with some nice trips to old favoured haunts such as Landguard, Holland Haven, Tollesbury Wick and Abberton. I was fortunate to see some nice birds such as Purple Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier, Great Northern Diver, Stonechat, Bittern, Corn Bunting, Smew and Slavonian Grebe. It was also interesting to see how much the avifuna is changing with Little Egret and Avocet, as well as Mediterranean Gull no longer the rarities they once were.I also made trips to Derbyshire and Spain, againwith family, and had a wonderful time with all, and still managed to fit in some birds. The Slender-billled Gulls, Greater Flamingoes and a huge flock of Black-necked Grebe stick in my mind, as do the wintering Crag Martins there, or the Bonelli's Eagle soaring high over an impressive cliff behind Benidorm. The little birds in the countryside surrounding my relatives beautiful home were also wonderful- Serin, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Crested Lark, Southern grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Chiffchaffs aplenty and the resident Barn Owl on a neighbourng barn.In mid-February it was back to Hiroshima, where a part-time work schedule gave me time to bird locally a little. Most of the time was spent at Hiroshima Catle or the local Otagawa gull roost. I was fortunate enough to see Yellow-browed Warbler and Korean Bush Warbler on my local patch of Hiroshima Castle, both first records for the Prefecture and an equally rare for there Great Spotted Woodpecker. Among the gulls it was good to tussle and lose with the ID of many birds, but also satisfying to start to recognize the various forms we have in the region.March and April saw me make a few local trips to my favorite haunt of Minami-Iwakuni and the Yahata River and a return to full-time work. Some good birds passed through, such as Red-throated Pipit, Temminck's Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Far Eastern Curlew, Ruddy Crake, Water Rail and many more. The pick of the bunch were a Short-billed Dowitcher seen all too briefly and a huge flock (for these parts) of 27 Garganey! A Hoopoe 5 minutes from my house, in the same park where I found Japanese Waxwing feeding on ivy berries above a group of elderly japanese busy enjoying their 'Hanami' Cherry Bloosom party. A Wryneck, Japanese Waxwing and Japanese Thrush also put in appearances at Hiroshima Castle, as did Narcissus and Blue and White Flycatcher.May saw me make my now almost annual spring pilgrimage to Mishima Island in the Sea of Japan. Neil Davidson and I had an amazing week with over 135 species beween us. The highlights are just too numerous to mention, but include surprising a Japanese Night Heron on a quiet shady track, only my 2nd ever, no less than 5 Chinese Pond Herons, finally catching up with two rare starlings- a White-shouldered and a Daurian, a huge fall of Buntings and Warblers including a magnificent male Chestnut Bunting and Yellow-browed Buntings and Yellow-browed Warbler in the 10's! My only disappointment was Neil jamming Japanese Quail, a bird I have yet to see in Japan and by virtue of being on the toilet missing a first for Japan in the shape of a Song Sparrow only 10 meters from where Mark Carmody and I identified another first for Japan a Blunt-winged Warbler the previous year!After May, things quietened down birdingwi[...]



Mishima - Spring 2007

2007-05-15T01:47:21.725+09:00

Well without any hitches Neil Davidson and I met up on Sunday afternoon, April 29th, ready for his first visit to Mishima and my 6th, the 5th in spring.Once we had done some last minute shopping, as there are not too many shops on the island and we were planning to camp, we made it acorss to the island by 5.20 and arrived at the campsite just before 6.The crossing was relatively quiet, with only a few Streaked Shearwaters breaking the monotony.Once we reached the far port of Uzu, where the campsite is, we managed to just dump our stuff and squeeze in an hours birding before it got too dark. We were lucky enough to bump into a couple of nice birds in the shape of 2 Chinese Pond Herons(AKAGASHIRASAGI), one in fine summer plumage, which remained throughout. Other birds on show were three very noisy Black-winged Stilts (SEITAKASHIGI), and a less showy Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (UZURASHIGI) and some quietly feeding Common Snipe (TASHIGI). Walking close to the small marsh near the village, we also flushed up a Brown Thrush (AKAHARA) which would turn out to be a very common bird on the island throughout. Chinese Pond heronWe bumped into Imai-san, a good young birder who had co-found the Blunt-winged Warbler on the island and a few other birders who told us what else had been seen on the island on preceding days and it was quite a mouthwatering list - Silky Starling (GINMUKUDORI), Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (MAMIJIROKIBITAKI), Yellow-browed Bunting (KIMAYUHOIJIRO), Grey-backed Thrush (KARAAKAHARA) and Short-toed Lark (HIMEKOTENSHI), as well as Radde's Warbler(KARAFUTOMUJISEKKA) and Temminck's Stint (OJIROTONEN). At least two of these were lifers for Neil and two others Japanese ticks. So, as the sun started to go down, we set up camp and chowed down on some delightful curry pot noodles, which apart from a blow-out last night feast were to be our staple food for the week. Just before nodding off I could hear an Oriental Scops Owl (KONOHAZUKU) calling distantly...one of several heard over the week but as usual not seen. This would have been a prefect lullaby to get me to sleep, but the less dulcit sounds of a few drunken scuba-divers staying in the beach house nearby, put paid to that!Monday April 30thThe next morning, after a resonably uncomfortable nights sleep (Neil with his ancient sleeping bag faring better than me as it later turned out I had slept on neil's camera half the night, which was stuffed inside his coat pocket), we loaded up on tea and weetabix and set off for our first tour of the island.I decided to show Neil the route up to Otoge, the mountain on the top of the island, passing en route one of my favorite 'secret' spots, where Mark and I had seen a few good birds the year before. We checked out the stilts again, with the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper having been replaces by a Greenshank (AOASHISHIGI) and a Wood Sanpiper (TAKABUSHIGI).We started off slowly not really adding much to the totals of birds seen on the previous day, though we did see or hear plenty of Siskins, a few Eastern-crowned Warblers (SENDAIMUSHIKUI), the constant Daurian Redstart-like call of Sakhalin Leaf Warbler (EZOMUSHIKUI) and the odd chuuit of a Yellow-browed Warbler (KIMAYUMUSHIKUI). We also encountered a very confiding Narcissus Flycatcher (KIBITAKI) that posed for the camera, living up to it's English name.1cy male Narcissu FlycatcherOther birds seen or heard on the way up, were Blue and White Flycatcher (ORURI) and Swinhoe's Robin (SHIMAGOMA) and the resident raptors, Osprey (MISAGO), Black Kite (TOBI), and Peregrine (HAYABUSA) with the first sightings of Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Japanese Sparrowhawk(HAITAKA and TSUMI). Finally we veered off on a small track through some more mature forest, skirting the edge of the mountain. Only some 100 meters or so down the track we suddenly saw a small dark heron feeding quietly on the side of the track, but beofre we could stop and admire it, the Japanese Night heron (MIZOGOI) took off and flew into cover, giving excellent if short views, story of my life with this spe[...]



Mishima - here I come!

2007-04-23T22:51:41.169+09:00

MishimaSo my favorite time of year has arrived in Jappers...with my annual pilgrimage to an offshore island only days away, my lips are slavering with the excitement of it all.As in the previous three of the last five years, I'll be heading out to Mishima island. A 6km by 2km wide piece of rock, in the middle of the Sea of Japan, 1 hour and 20 minutes by ferry from quiet little Hagi on the Japan sea coast of Yamaguchi.This year I am gonna rough it for the second time and camp, after an attempt last autumn, was curtailed after a few days, because out of the kindness of their hearts the people running the campsite let us stay, but refused to turn on the water for showers etc, as it wasn't peak season.So what might we expect..well if todays little lunchtime jaunt around Hiroshima Castle is anything to go by, quite a lot. Today at the castle there were 3 male Japanese Thrush, 1 Wryneck and 1 male Siberian Rubythroat. The latter skulking and not playing ball, while the thrushes sung and fought over territory and the Wryneck showed well for a minute before being put up by someone.Also the Hiroshima WBSJ group just returned from a weekend trip there, where the highlights were Japanese Yellow Bunting, Japanese Murrelet, Siberian Rubythroat, Silky Starling, Little Bunting and Siberian Blue Robin among others. Last autumn I vsited at the end of September for 2 days and managed to find quite a few goodies, including 3 Japanese rarities - Northern Wheatear ( around 20 records in Japan) ,Common Swift (not officially on Japanese list yet) and Blyth's Pipit, as well as some other scarce species - Middendorf's Grasshopper Warbler, Richard's Pipit, Long-toed Stint, Red-cheeked Starling, White's Thrush, Little Bunting and the one that got away..a swiftlet sp. There were also many Hobby and Kestrel on the island, and the commonest migrants seemed to be Grey Wagtail and Stonechat. Kestrel Northern Wheatear Stonechat Sooty Flycatcher Northern ShovelerThe previous spring saw Mark Carmody and I having what can only be described the best spring birding I have had in Japan, even outstripping my trip to Hegura in 2002. Major rarities included Black Drongo (2), Two-barred Greenish Warbler ( 3rd or 4th Japanese record- only me)Blunt-winged Warbler (first Japanese record) and Plain Martin (4th or 5th Japanese record - latter two only Mark, myself and 1 other birder) as well as a huge list of scarcities -Chinese Pond Heron, Silky Starling, Yellow-browed Warbler, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Swinhoe's Robin, Styan's Grasshopper Warbler, Jungle Nightjar, Richard's Pipit, Grey-backed Thrush, Japanese Night Heron (Mark only - I was looking the wrong direction as usual), Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo (heard only), Dusky Warbler (heard only), Japanese Robin (heard only), Black-faced Spoonbill (first island record), Little Bunting, Tristram's Bunting, Pintail Snipe, Dollarbird, Oriental Scops Owl (heard only) - the one that got away Lanceolated Warbler. In all we saw 120 species. A new best spring total for me. Black Drongo Grey-backed Thrush Pintail SnipeSeveral spring trips before that have produced some pretty nice birds too - Black-naped Oriole (1), Black-capped Kingfisher (1), Chestnut Bunting (1), Yellow-browed Bunting (6+), Purple Heron (1), Chinese Pond Heron (2), Japanese Night Heron (1), Swinhoe's Egret (1), Short-toed Lark (1), Brown Shrike (2), Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (1), Mugimaki Flycatcher (5+). Black-capped Kingfisher Swinhoe's Egret and Little Egret Purple Heron Chinese Pond HeronIn total I have seen about 155 species on the island since my first visit in 2000.Unfortunately past years have seen me miss many of the rarer visitors to the island - Golden Eagle, Spotted Eagle, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Thick-billed Warbler, Palla's Grasshopper Warbler, Little Whimbrel, Hooded Crane, Indian Cuckoo, Pied Wheatear, Ferruginous Flycatcher among others.This island easily rivals Heguara for variety and numbers [...]



Recent birding highlights - April 2007

2007-04-22T20:49:56.445+09:00

Well apart from the Hoopoe, highlights were pretty few and far between until this Friday, when I managed to find a few minutes to take a look around Shukkein Garden, in downtown Hiroshima.Apart from larger than usual numbers of Rufous Turtle Dove, there was also a small passage of Black-faced Buntings, around 4-5, a very confiding Short-tailed Bush Warbler who came within 2-3 meters of me, oblivious to me as he chomped on a caterpillar. Just as I had given up any hope of any other migrants, a beutiful male Narcissus Flctatcher appeared out of nowhere and diligently posed on a low post for a minute or so, before flitting off into the canpoy. I also managed to flush a Eurasian Sparrowhawk out of the canpoy, while the commoner birds of winter dwindle evermore - Dusky Thrush 2-3, Pale Thrush 4-5, Brown-eared Bulbul 1-2 and Olive-backed Pipit 1 accompanying freshly-fledged Long-tailed Tits.On the way back from teaching in Yano I was lucky enough to hear and see 4-5 Japanese Waxwings on roadside wires and trees next to busy route 2 briefly before they flew off.A trip to Minami-Iwakuni the previous weekend also found very few birds of note. a possible Pintail Snipe, 1 Marsh Sandpiper, 11 Pacific Golden Plover, 1Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey-headed Lapwing, Penduline Tit, Ruddy Crake, Stonechat and Grey-faced Bunting..as well as a nice male Rustic Bunting. News afterwards also reached me of a 'lucionensis' Brown Shrike.Birding at the nearby Otagawa River, yielded 3 Chinese Penduline Tits, as well as at least 5 species of egret/heron in the henronry, as well as 20 odd wigeon and a couple of amorous Spotbill Ducks.There were also penty of gulls for me to sift through, get confused over and fail to ID as usual. I will post some picsof gulls this winter in a future post.Unfortunately rain, work commitments and some over- exhuberant soccer antics kept me from birding this weekend.Well off to Mishima Island in the Sea of Japan from next Sunday..camping under the stars and hopefully finding some nice birds in good company is in order. I wil post a taster of what might be on offer in the next couple of days.I'll finish with a few of some of my more than half decent pics...including some record shots of the big flock of 22 Great Knot that David Flack and I saw at the Yahatagawa 2 weeks ago.[...]



Egret mystery- what is it?

2007-04-22T20:19:28.242+09:00

This egret was in the Otagawa heronry on Sunday. I thought at first it was probably just an odd-looking Intermediate Egret, but something about the jizz of this bird suggests that it is something else. The problem is though it doesn't fit any of the other candidates - Great Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, pale-phase Pacific Reef Egret or Chinese Egret.

(image) Mystery Egret 1
(image) Mystery Egret 2
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Mystery Egret 3


I have also included some shots of Intermediate Egret, Great Egret and Little Egret taken at the same heronry on the same day.


(image) Great Egret
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Great Egrets
(image) Intermediate Egret
(image) Intermediate Egret



A Hoopoe in the neighbourhood

2007-04-22T18:54:48.378+09:00

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I got a call from my good friend Sumida-san about a possible Hoopoe in a small park, on the mountainside, just 5 minutes bike ride from my house..so how could i reseist an early morning visit just before work.

As I got to the park a dog fox trotted 20 meters in fromt of me crossing from the scrubby hillside and walking up the path with some kind of bird firmly clenched in its jaws.

I met the other gallant birders able to surface at the carck and we waited and waited for the Hoope to appear.

As we waited, various birds sung from the hillside, or briefly showed themselves..the buzzing cricket-like song of Short-tailed Bush Warbler could be heard close behind us, while Pale Thrush and Dusky Trhush skuluked in the undergrowth, along with Grey Bunting, Black-faced and Meadow Buntings, which from time to time briefly burst into song. Swallows swooped and dived overhead, while Blue-and White Flycatcher and Little Cuckoo called more distantly from on top of the mountain.

We continued to wait in what had been the favoured place of the Hoopoe the day before, a large area of open turf on top of the local waterworks, which was dotted with hungry Dusky Thrushes and Rufous Turtle Doves picking through the short turf for bits and bobs.

Teh montony of waiting was broken by the dog fox cantering bold as brass across the turf, putting everything up in its path.

Finally, we decided to walk dow to the bottom of the hill below the waterworks and what should fly up, but a glorious Black, White and Pink Hoopoe, that promptly disappeared behind a clump of bamboo before any of us could get decent pics.

We waited another 15 minutes, but it didn't return.

So I made my way back to the original spot, and was lucky enough to watch the Hoope fly across and finally settle and start feeding on the open turf. I called the other birders and they got some distant pics and then I had to leg it for work!



Mystery tringa or just bad photo of immature Greenshank?

2007-04-22T18:42:03.511+09:00

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I have posted these pics on other forums, but never really received satisfactory answers as to what this might be.



mystery bunting from the past

2007-04-18T14:36:34.301+09:00

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Anyone got any ideas on this bunting? A female of indertiminate species. I took the photos at the Long Valley in April 2003.

Chestnut-eared was mentioned by local birders at the time, but this is like no Chestnut-eared I've seen in Japan.

I am guessing that this is a 1st winter or female 'sordida' or 'spodocephala' Black-faced Bunting..with an outside chance of a Ist year Yellow-browed Bunting, though I would have thought it would have some yellow on the brow by early April if it were the latter species.

I have only seen one 1st winter Black-faced of those two races, the first UK record, the others have all been males here in Japan.

I have also never seen 1st year Yellow-browed Bunting, only adult males and females.



More spring bird higlight pics

2007-04-09T00:46:02.976+09:00

I couldn't put these photos on before, as my camera-lead has decided to give up the ghost on me (as has my other camera..the Fujifinepix), but finally got them onto CD at Deo Deo and was happy with some of the results. Birding this week has been restricted to the environs of Hiroshima. Managed to go out to Miyajima with David Flack, a nice birder/photographer from my part of the world... Essex. I learnt a lot about cameras and only ish I had his skil and camera..maybe one dy soon I can get the Canon D20 or D30 with a nice Sigma 500mm lend and telecoverter and one of those new snazzy Casio 10 megapixel jobs!We saw a few birds of interest, such as Red-flanked Bluetail, Japanese Green Woodpecker, Brambling and Siskin on Miyajima, and a nice flock of 22 Great Knot at the Yahatagawa on the way back, along with 100+ Dunlin and 27 Kentish Plover.Well anyway here are the less than perfect images I have been taking of late.I am gonna save this winters selection of gulls for the next post.[...]



The tale of the not so funny Scaup

2007-04-06T09:00:13.690+09:00

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I found this bird at the beginning of March on a reclamation pond close to the mouth of the Yahata Riverin Itsukaichi City, Hiroshima.

I wasn't sure of it's ID, as it seemed to me from the poor views and shots that I got just before dusk to show characteristics of Lesser and Greater Scaup. It semed to have a small black nail, subtle grey vermicualtions on the flanks and quite tightly packer darker grey vermicualtions on the back all pro- Lesser. However, it did seem too round-headed and long necked for Lesser, and the bill shape/pattern at times resembled both species depending on which way the bird was facing. It seemed to spend all its time on the freshwater pool, rather than on the nearby estuary with the flock of 250+ Greater Scaup. It also seemed to swim always with it's rear end raised..however I wasn't sure which species it was..or if it might even be a hybrid. Unfortunately, the first time round I could not get any shots of the wings. The pond is on a private site and access is only really possible on Sundays, so I had to wait two more weeks until th local bird club meeting at the site to have another look.

After about 5 minutes I relocated the bird, among the other ducks,,and this time after spending 30-40 minutes I finally managed to get some shots of the wings, which prove it is not Lesser and most likely a young male Greater..though the slightness of the black nib on the end of the bill still bugs me.



Late winter/early spring highlights

2007-04-01T21:31:49.936+09:00

Well I set this darn blog up so guess I had better use it right.Had a lotta free time the past few weeks, which has largely been spent birding or playing around on the puter.Anyroad thought I would summarise birding hilights of the past few weeks, since i got back from the UK.Hiroshima Castle/Shukkein Garden/UshitaThe two best birds have been Manchurian Bush Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler, neither of them found by me So if you wanna see pics you are gonna have to go Sumida-san's great website at the following link. http://darrowby.seesaa.net/article/37113241.html A small brown phylloscopus warbler was also heard and seen briefly in the last week, but could definitely not be identified, though Dusky Warbler sems most likely.Other birds of note were a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Hiroshima Castle, a possible first for the site and cetainly an incongruous sight in the city center! Unfortunately it never stayed long enough in one place to have it's photo taken.There has also been several Brambling, Oriental Greenfinch, Red-flanked Bluetail, Hawfinch, Japanese Grosbeak, the odd Naumann's Thrush among the Duskies, as well as flyover Osprey, the early morning roosting female Peregrine on the nearby Rhiga Royal hotel, a fluctuating flock of Tufted Duck and Pochard, with the odd view of Grey Heron, Little Egret and Kingfisher thrown in for good measure and the odd fleeting visit from Black-backed, Japanese and Grey Wagtails. The number of Daurian Redstart has fallen in the last week, although there was a high count of 8 at Hiroshima Castle, perhaps a small fall after a heavy night of rain. The only other raptor was a probable Eurasian Sparrowhawk diving into cover and narrowly missing a Rufous Turtle Dove.A short trip to the mountain behind my house turned up a few nice birds - 7+ Japanese Waxwing, 1 Red-flanked Bluetail, 1+ Siskin, 2+ Grey Bunting and 2-3 Rustic Bunting.OtagawaI have been regularly checking the gull roost on the Otagawa river in the hopes of finding a white-winged gull, but only come up with odd hybrid birds among the Vegae, Heuglin's, Mongolian, Kamchatka, Black-tailed and Black-headed gull. The Long-billed Plovers departed at the end of February at Suimon Bridge and have finally been replaced with two pairs of Little Ringed Plovers. There have been several Osprey fishing, as well as the ubiquitous Black Kite but no other raptors of note. he star passerine was a male Brown Thrush a few weeks back, which I got a bad photo of. They have been scarce this winter in Hiroshima. There have aso been a few Reed Buntings present and today I found 3+ Chinese Penduline Tits. Other passerines are few, but include Black-faced Bunting, Meadow Bunting, Daurian Redstart, Olive-backed Pipit, Japanese Skylark, Brown-eared Bulbul, Dusky Thrush and Pale ThrushThe heronry has been active since Mid-February and as well as having up to 500 Common Cormorant roosting there, I counted 55 Grey Heron nests today. 3-4 Little Egret seem to have moved in and will start nest-building. Up to 70 have been roosting regularly there too. No sign of any Night Heron or Great Egret, but they tend to roost further upriver. They used to breed, along with Night Heron on another of the islands, until someone or perhaps the local council in ther infinite wisdom decided to cut down the two small trees they used. Swallows are back in force, with mud-gathering already taking place, and they have been in residence for the past week in Hiroshima, though passing through since the 10th March. The only duck of note was a male Falcated Duck which joined the small Wigeon flock for a few weeks. There have also been small numbers of Gadwall, Teal, Spotbill Duck, Pochard and Tufted Duck.YahatagawaThe river has been sluggish for birds as usual, as most birds continue to use the landf[...]



Possible Thayer's Gull on Otagawa River - March 2006

2007-03-10T01:41:51.386+09:00

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I am so lax with this blog, that not only have I not posted in 6 mnths, but when I do finally decide to blog, i put on photos of a bird I saw a year ago!

Well, enough tittle tattle ...so what is it?

Thayer's or am I just hallucinating and it is actually just a 'funny' Vegae?



The tale of the funny gull

2006-09-27T15:20:07.856+09:00

Two weeks back I visited my local wader hot spot, trying to find something good among the commoner autumn fare.

Unfortunately, apart from a Long-toed Stint there was not much happening..so I turned my attention to the gulls.

Among 3 immature Black-headed Gulls was a very odd gull. It didn't match the primary pattern of a normal Black-headed, seemed to have a paler back, a larger hood and more coral-red legs and bill. At the distance I was viewing, over 500m, I could not see black on the bill (clear on subsequent pics).

I struggled to put a name to it..was it just an aberrant Black-headed? a hybrid? or something really rare like a Relict Gull or (Indian) Brown -headed Gull? Never having seen Brown -headed I could't rule it out, but it just didn't seem quite right for Relict, despite the upright pigeon-like stance, the prinamry pattern didn't match this species, or Brown-headed or indeed any species of gull.

Unfortunately, once I got home and reviewed the poor photos I had taken and cross-referenced them and my notes with Malling. Olsen and Larsen I was still none the wiser.

I asked friends, but they seemed unsure...mainly as my shots were so poor!

Then finally, another Japanese birder who had heard about my 'funny' gull, managed to get some much better shots, which revealed that the gull was almost certainly an aberrant Black-headed gull..though the hood, leg color and size (nearly as big as a neighbouring Black-tailed) still leave me not 100 percent certain.

Any comments are most welcome.

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This week I have been mostly ..finding rare birds!

2006-09-22T01:19:45.066+09:00

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It is not often I get to say this, but suddenly downtown Hiroshima is turning into a postivie Avian Mecca.

In the past week I have seen more rare or unusual birds than in the past 8 years in the grounds of Hiroshima Castle. I would like to pretend that I have been finding all the truly rare birds ...but well I didn't, that was mosty down to Sumida-san..who is rapidly turning into something of a twitcher..pretty much unheard of outside Tokyo.

The local birders have accused me of having magical pockets..little do they know that this purple patch cannot last!

We have had so many good birds, that a birder from Osaka even turned up!

So what is all the fuss about? Well the star players in this surreal avian movie-like feast are mainly some locustela warblers that seem to think they are mice (big ones mind) and creep around, pretending that the sad little few box hedges we have are the wide grasslands of hokkaido.

In the past week, we have had 3 or 4 Grays Grasshopper Warblers (1 adult and 2-3 juveniles) and 4 Middendorf's Grasshopper Warblers (2 aduts and 2 juveniles)...sometiimes 2 of each species at once.

This has been backed up by an admirable supporting cast: 1 Brown Hawk Owl, 2 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 1 Ashy Minivet, 1 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 5 Stub-tailed bush Warblers, 10+ Eastern Crowned Warblers, 2-3 Sakhalin Leaf Warblers, 5+ Arctic Warblers, 10+ Brown Flycatchers, 2-3 Sooty Flycatchers, 5+ Narcissus Flycatchers, 2 Blue and White Flycatchers, 1-2 Grey-streakd Flycatchers, 2 Japanese Paradise Flycatchers, 1 Siberian Blue Robin, 2 Grey Thrush, 1 Swinhoes Robin, 20+ Red-cheeked Starling..and a Yellow Bunting (alas I missed the Bunting, Grey-Streaked Fly and Swinhoe's Robin).all in two small green oasis of hiroshima Castle and Shukkein Garden.

I have even found time to fit in a couple of side trips to the hasu fields of Minami-Iwakuni, with a Red-necked Phalarope and Long-toed Stint taking the wader prizes and an odd gull (answers on a postcard please!) running a close second.

Also managed to find a Greater Sand Plover and Marsh Sandpiper at the ever declining Yahata River.

What ever will be next...I have a wish list, but don't want to jinx things... The photos of the grays Grashopper Warbler and the iddendorf's Warblers are Sumida-san's..the phalarope and flycatcher are my...alas rather pathetic attempts!

If you want tosee more of his stunning images, go to his blog:

http://darrowby.seesaa.net



Autumn is just around the corner

2006-08-28T23:47:18.110+09:00

Well I thought I would be blogging on a more reugular basis than this, but it seems that once the initial novelty has worn off and the realization has set in that no-one is ever gonna bother reading it...you can't be arsed most of the time.

But since the long hot summer is coming to a cose and I have managed to get out birding the last few weekends, I thought I would share a few pics of the nice Painted Snipe I saw over the last two weekends.

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I visited two sites, one is a small mudflat in Hatsukaichi City. A Greater Sand Plover, Redshank and Turnstone had been reported there, all scarce in Hiroshima..but off course all had gone. I was left with the blazing hot sun, a few Red-necked Stint, Dunlin, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tatler, Terek Sandpiper among the commoner Kentish Plover.. and after 10 minutes found myself sticking to the tarmac between the cracks...yuck!

A visit to Minami-Iwakuni, an area of Lotus fields, produced little of note, with it still being early in the season, and many areas remained uncut. Among the hordes of Moorhen, herons and Egrets were a few waders, a couple each of Green, Wood and Common Sandpiper, a few more Little Ringed Plovers and a very photogenic pair of Painted Snipe in the same place as an immature bird last week. As the tide receded on the nearby estuary I was able to find 5 Whimbrel, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Terek Sandpiper and 8 Great Knot, as well as a few Black-tailed Gulls and the off fishing Osprey. I missed the best two birds of the weekend, a Black-browed Reed Warbler (rare here) and a Swinhoe's Egret reported among the large numbers of 'white' egrets and Night Herons. Still no snipe either.

A few weeks back I did manage to add Grey-headed Lapwing to my Hiroshima list from the back of a cab...but not much else to report birdwise. Hopefully in the coming weeks I'll be adding some more images of other autumn migrants,,,big and small.



Matterazzi vs Zidane

2006-08-02T01:24:15.270+09:00

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Zi...summer!

2006-08-02T01:21:34.773+09:00

Well, well, wel, well well!

Can't believe I have had nothing to say for 2 months!

Is my life that empty?

No, the opposite really, been doing too much shit of late, learning JAPPERS,

so I can write stuff like this:

僕のちんちん  は で会 です!

Also watching England's humiliation in the World Cup on penalties for the umpteenth time, then seeing France throw it all away to those cheating, diving Italian mother#$"%"s.

Still we were left with some highlights.....see what happened to Zidane and Materrazi for real:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGFVhzmnYWg

Just gonna sweat out the summer, turn 35, feel one year older and no wiser and get pissed and have some fun on my biffday weekend init!

maybe I should post some long overblown polemic on the whole messed up Israel-Hezbullah mess, but I won't...suffice to say, the whole world turns a blind eye once again while Israel dputs Lebanon back 10 years, and systematically destroys 100's of 1000's of peoples lives, including their own citizens..idiots! There and I said I wouldn't say anything.

Well better rest now, tis late and I am away to me pit!



Time

2006-06-11T18:05:31.356+09:00

Images preserved
Times remembered
People immortalized
Objects glorified
Good times had


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lost but
for the lens.....



BOZU!

2006-06-02T01:32:28.560+09:00

They say bald is beautiful..well whether or not it is true..thanks to the shear efforts of a Kiwi and his clippers i was shorn of my shaggy mane and given the smoothest of summer cuts...Andy Warhol never heard of im..

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other shots in this wonderful new collection celebrating the BOZU cut

the poseur

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blinded by the pate.......

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and the hills are alive with hair



Of all the books in all the world..I had to buy this one!

2006-05-25T00:19:15.023+09:00

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Yes, just when you thought there was nothing left to write about



Lazy Sunday afternoon

2006-05-24T01:39:10.710+09:00

Finally, 2 days in a row without rain! How best to celebrate? get in a fight with the Mrs over something as trivial as not wanting to look around an insectarium on the Saturday. It rather spoilt an otherwise perfect day and a nice little visit to one of Hiroshima's multifarious forest parks. Still all is harmonic bliss now. We managed to see The Da Vinci Code on Monday, and it is 'thankfully' better than the book, though still smacks of a Hollywood cliquiness. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard having their own Hollywood eqyuivalent of a special relationship..he stars in his films, just as Blair does in Bushes little epics, and the movie is all the poorer for it, as the world is with Bush and Blair in it. There is also a penchant for treating the audience like idiots. We don't need to have everything explained with 'artsy' flashbacks , or certain historical facts or suppositions explained with 'reconstrucution' scenes do we? Sorry, jumping the gun there, assuming that 1) anyone is readin this and 2) that any of you have read the book or seen the film. Please see it for yourself and make up your own mind.,,still I think that Jesus and Mary, though they may have got it on, never produced any little sprogs who would be kings of France. I mean why would a woman from the totaly opposite end of the Roman Empire choose France to land in and call home, above all other places. True the food is good, and they do have a way with 'l'amour', but what else did they have to offer at that time?Anyway, going back to the weekend. While the Mrs spent the day out with her mum, soaking in yet another hot spring, I managed to drag me bum out of bed at 4.30am, and go with my most excellent birding pals Miyazawa-san and Funakawa-san for a spot of spring birding, around Garyuzan-san in the Chugoku mountains. We arrived around 6.30 and heard the tail end of the 'dawn' chorus, with plenty of Winter Wrens, Grey Thrush, Narcissus Flycatcher, Blue and White Flycatcher and Siberian Blue Robins singing their collective hearts out, all with glorious sunshine, a rare thing in recent weeks, and as yet not too hot tempratures.We tootled slowly up the narrow little mountain road, passing lush green broadleaved beech forest, concealing most of the singing birds, with the occasional movement revealing a wren, thrush and once briefly a Ruddy Kingfisher.Once we had reached the top of the mountain, where the cool spring water bubbles up from inside the mountain, while frogs croak all around, we began to slowly walk back down. As we walked we heard Siberian Thrush, Japanese Woodpigeon, Oriental Cuckoo and Litle Cuckoo, catching glimpses of the commoner woodland birds, such as Coal Tit, Varied Tit, Great Tit and Nuthatch going about their woodland business of eating caterpillars and what have you. Occasionally one of the 4 species of woodpecker would call or drum, and we caught the odd glimpse of them, as well as an overflying Little Cuckoo, as well as the Blue Robin and the flycatchers, with Wrens singing sometimes just a few meters ahead of us.Finally we stopped at an area, where Ruddy Kingfisher had bred in the past, and waited patiently fo them to start givng their beautiful descending trill, and perhaps treat us to a passing flash of orange and blue. Unfortunately, despite sometimes being only a few meters away, the most we ever saw was an orange blur as they flew between perches, the large leaves obscuring them, while their calls tantalisingly led us on a merry chase without success.As the morning progressed, and we w[...]



2 Comments

2006-05-20T12:12:13.430+09:00

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My first blog

2006-05-20T11:07:06.056+09:00

Welcome one and all..well probably just one, coz I haven't told anybody else about this blog yet.

I hope to be able to post pics,life-shite, birdy stuff, music, books and all that jazz on here, and then maybe one day some others out there might post, read or do whatever the hell they like once they have seen.

All thanks to my super new MAC, which now comes a close third, behind my wife/family and birds as the love of my life..enough drivel...I just wanna see if this works!

minnsy