The unsound approach

 

 

(ED: Dan and Hannah are professional holidaymakers, having been on holiday for about three years now, in this time there have seen most of the world’s birds and succeeded in procuring some amazing images. Following in the footsteps of the Mahood they are recently returned from Japan…..) 

9th January  - arrive late pm Tokyo

10th January - two cancelled flights due to snow, eventually connected with flight to Sapporo, Hokkaido. Landed 1700, hired car and drove to Obihiro

11th January - Drive to Akan Crane Sanctuary, most of day around this area, night at Ryokan Fujio

12th January - Rausu and associated harbours, night at Ryokan Fujio

13th January - Shibetsu, Notsuke, Odaito and Nakashibetsu, night at Minshuku Furen

14th January - Cape Nossapu and harbours inc Hanasaki and Ochiishi, night Minshuku Furen

15th January - Flight to Tokyo, pm Tokyo

16th January - Morning Meiji Jingu Shrine, pm Imperial Palace Moat, Tokyo

17th January - Flight to UK

 

Sites

 

Nearly all the sites featured below are covered in Brazil’s A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Japan 1987

 

Hokkaido

Akan Crane Sanctuary

A superb site complete with visitors centre and mini café. Up to 200Red-crowned Cranes gather on the snowy field outside the centre and are fed live fish at 0900 and 1400. The feeding predominantly attracts a plethora of White-tailed Eagles and the odd Stellar’s Sea Eagle, all in all an awesome sight.

Species: Whooper & Bewick’s Swan, Stellars Sea Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Japanese Buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Red-crowned Crane (177), Tree Sparrow

 

 

 

Ryokan Fujio

A beautiful hotel situated close to the Youroshi Hot springs in the foothills of the Akan Mountains. A great site to catch up with Blakiston’s Fish Owl whilst enjoying a feast of Japanese delicacies.

Species: Blakiston’s Fish & Ural Owls, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Dusky Thrush, Willow, Marsh, Coal & Japanese Tits, Asiatic Nuthatch, Hawfinch, Jay,

 

Shibetsu Harbour

One of the best sites for gulls that I found. The river mouth just to the north of the port is good for small gulls, bathing large gulls and duck. The waste ground on the seaward side of the harbour held 200 Rosy Finches. At least 300 Glaucous Gulls were loafing on the beach and offshore.

Species: Stejneger’s and Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Harlequin, Stellars Sea Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Slaty-backed, Vega, Kamchatka, and Black-headed Gulls, Rosy Finch

Hannah always wanted to try falconry....

 

Rausu

The main harbour is good for gulls and seaduck. Check the river just to the south of the harbour for duck, swans, and bathing gulls. The road continues north along the coast. This entire area is good for seaduck, grebes and divers. The large bay 4km to the north of Rausu held a White-billed Diver as well as a mixed flock of Pacific and Black-throateds.

Species: White-billed, Pacific, & Black-throated Divers, Slavonian Grebe,  Whooper Swan, Harlequin, Black Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Goldeneye, Smew, Stellars Sea Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Slaty-backed, Vega, Kamchatka, and Black-headed Gulls Brunnich’s & Common Guillemots, Ancient Murrelet. Also Kuril & Harbour Seal, Stellars Sealion.

 

Notsuke Peninsula

Its possible to bird anywhere along the spit and is worth checking all flocks of gulls, finches and wildfowl. A few Dusky Thrushes were foraging along the shoreline and apparently the Wildlife Centre at the tip held Rosy Finches at the feeders although we had had excellent views of Rosy Finches at a number of sites. Just beyond the wildlife centre local fishermen launch and retrieve boats off the beach. This site is phenomenal for eagles and gulls as most of the discards are deposited on the beach. As a result there were over 160 Stellars Eagles in this area giving fantastic views. Offshore there’s plenty of time for scanning the large flocks of seaduck.

Species: Whooper Swan, Stejnegers & Black Scoter, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Harlequin, Stellars Sea Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Goshawk, Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Slaty-backed, Vega, Kamchatka, and Black-headed Gulls, Dusky Thrush, Rosy Finch

 

Nakashibetsu

A major town just inland of Shibetsu. The high street is lined with Rowan trees and great for berry loving birds. An adult White-tailed Eagle along the high street was also pretty good.

Species: White-tailed Eagle, Brown-eared Bulbul, Waxwing (7), Dusky Thrush, Pine Grosbeak (15-20).

 

Odaitou

A well known feeding site for wildfowl. By the time we arrived it was getting late and most birds had departed. Those that remained were suitably obliging. The day after a male Pine Bunting was present in the trees behind the feeding station.

Species: Red-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Whooper Swan, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Goldeneye, Stellars and White-tailed Eagles, Ancient Murrelet, Buff-bellied Pipit, Snow Bunting

 

Cape Nosappu

A low-lying peninsula with superb seawatching opportunities and many harbours. We worked the western harbours from just east of Nemuro City moving in a clock-wise direction (due to light) finishing at Hanasaki and Ochiishi harbour.

Species: Pacific & Red-throated Divers, Red-necked & Slavonian Grebes, Pintail, Falcated Duck, Teal, Wigeon, Greater Scaup, Tufted Duck, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganer, Goosander, Harlequin, Black & Stejnegers Scoters, Stellars Sea Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Japanese Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel, Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Slaty-backed, Vega, Kamchatka, and Black-headed Gulls, Spectacled, Brunnich’s & Common Guillemots, Ancient Murrelet, Rosy Finch.

 

Tokyo

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Superb mature woodland surrounding a stunning shrine as well as cultivated gardens and a couple of ponds. The gardens and southern ponds cost to enter so we birded the free bits. Try the northern pond for Mandarin and the western tracks are the least disturbed.

Species: Mandarin, Japanese Buzzard, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Pale Thrush, Brown-headed Thrush, Japanese Bush Warbler,  Red-flanked Bluetail, Varied Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Treecreeper, Japanese White-eye,  Hawfinch, Brambling, Black-faced Bunting, Grey Bunting.

 

Imperial Palace Moat

Like Meiju Jingu Shrine, an area of mature grounds however the moat surrounding the Palace is also a superb area for wildfowl.

Species: Little Grebe, Gadwall, Falcated Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Smew, Goosander, Grey Wagtail

 

Species

 

White-billed Diver

A single in the first large bay north of Rausu

 

Pacific Diver

4+ with Black-throated Divers in the first large bay north of Rausu. Also recorded along Cape Nosappu

 

Black-throated Diver

A flock of 8 in the first large bay north of Rausu

 

Red-throated Diver

A single just south of Odaitou

 

Little Grebe

 

Red-necked Grebe

Common along Cape Nosappu

 

Slavonian Grebe

1 in first large bay north of Rausu and ?? along Cape Nosappu

 

Great Cormorant

 

Japanese Cormorant

2 just south of Odaitou

 

Pelagic Shag

 

Red-faced Shag

2 on small stack just off the tip of Cape Nosappu

 

Whooper Swan

Flocks at Akan Crane centre and Odaitou, two on river at Rausu

 

Bewick’s Swan

A single with Whoopers at Akan

 

Mandarin

7 on the northern pond at M

 

Mallard

 

Gadwall

2 in harbour south of Nemuro and several in Imperial Palace moat

 

Eurasian Teal

 

Eurasian Wigeon

 

Falcated Duck

A single with other wildfowl in the harbour at Hanasaki, south east of Nemuro, 4 on Imperial Palace moat.

 

Pintail

 

Tutfed Duck

 

Greater Scaup

Common in every harbour

 

Pochard

 

Harlequin

Abundant in every harbour and all coastal bays

 

Long-tailed Duck

Common in all shallow coastal bays as well as some harbours

 

Common Scoter

 

Stejneger’s Scoter

Found frequently along the coast including Notsuke and Cape Nosappu

 

Bufflehead

A drake in with other seaduck in the first bay south of Cape Nosappu

 

Goldeneye

 

Red-breasted Merganser

 

Goosander

 

Stellars Sea Eagle

Widespread and abundant on Hokkaido. Up to 160 on Notsuke Peninsula.

 

 

White-tailed Eagle

Abundant on Hokkaido

 

Black-eared Kite

 

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

 

Goshawk

Seen at Akan and Notsuke

 

Japanese Buzzard

Widespread on Hokkaido and also at Menjiju Shrine

 

Rough-legged Buzzard

A single west of Kushiro and another south west of Rausu

 

Peregrine

A single at Ochiishi

 

Kestrel

 

Red-crowned Crane

177 at the Akan Crane Centre

 

Black-headed Gull

 

Kamchatka Gull

Abundant along the coast including 1000+ along the Notsuke Peninsula

 

Vega Gull

Several first winters on Hokkaido and a number of adults on the Imperial Palace Moat.

 

Slaty-backed Gull

Abundant on Hokkaido plus many hybrids

 

Glaucous-winged Gull

As above

 

Glaucous Gull

Common on Hokkaido, 300 on the beach side of Shibetsu Harbour and 200+ on Cape Nosappu

 

Spectacled Guillemot

1000 off Cape Nosappu plus another 170 between Nemuro and Cape Nosappu

 

Brunnich’s Guillemot

20 Cape Nosappu, 10 in Rausu Harbour, 4 Shibetsu Harbour, and singles recorded north of Rausu and other sites along Cape Nosappu

 

Common Guillemot

50 off Cape Nosappu plus many unid alcids almost certainly this species

 

Ancient Murrelet

100+ off Rausu harbour plus smaller numbers of nearly every other coastal point

 

Oriental Turtle Dove

Akan and Menju

 

Blakiston’s Fish Owl

Ryokan Fujio

 

 

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker

Youroshi area and Meiju Jingu

 

Great Spotted Woodpecker

 

Black-backed Wagtail

 

Buff-bellied Pipit

2 just north of Odaitou on the lake shore

 

Brown-eared Bulbul

Abundant

 

Waxwing

7 in Nemashibetsu

 

Brown Dipper

1 near Youroshi and 1 on Rausu River

 

Red-flanked Bluetail

2 at Meiju Jinga Shrine

 

Dusky Thrush

Widespread and common

 

Pale Thrush

Common at Meiju Jingu

 

Brown-headed Thrush

2 at Meiju Jingu

 

Japanese Bush Warbler

Common at

 

Varied Tit

Common at

 

Japanese Tit

Common on Hokkaido and in Tokyo

 

Willow Tit

Several at Ryokan Fujio

 

Marsh Tit

Common on Hokkaido

 

Coal Tit

 

Long-tailed Tit

 

Asiatic Nuthatch

Several at Ryokan Fujio

 

White-cheeked Starling

Several at Nemashibetsu

 

Carrion Crow

 

Japanese/Large-billed Crow

Abundant

 

Jay

Several at Ryokan Fujio

 

Brambling

Several large flocks at Meiju Jingu

 

Oriental Greenfinch

Several large flocks on Hokkaido

 

Hawfinch

Widespread and common

 

Bullfinch

6 at Ryokan Fujio

 

Pine Grosbeak

 

 

Asian Rosyfinch

A number of flocks on Hokkaido inc 200 in Shibetsu Harbour, 50 Notsuke Peninsula, 60 Cape Nosappu

 

Grey Bunting

A single male with Black-faced Buntings at

 

Black-faced Bunting

This very distinctive race was common at

 

Snow Bunting

A single fly-over just south of Odaitou

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never a frown with Golden Brown.....