Tuesday 5 November 2013


Great Cormorant is common, really common. The population has been growing at an amazing rate while I've been living in Kansai and they've made enemies of trout fisherman, they're killing trees on Biwako islands and are taking over formerly rich mixed heronries. Adults used to disappear from around Kyoto during the breeding season leaving immatures on the rivers but now they are breeding close enough to be met with in any season.

There are always loafing immatures at the flood water control gates at Yodo, opposite the race track.

                     A young adult that hasn't yet developed a full head of white filoplumes.

Probably a youngish adult white far less white about the head than many.

They are very common in Osaka and I always keep an eye out for Temminck's, so far without success but the bird below had my heart racing for a few minutes wondering if I'd found a Double-crested! Though even brown immatures usually have white face patches, I have seen adults with very subdued white during moult or due to soiling but this bird looked exceptional. It seemed the yellow gullar skin was more extensive and the plumage much greener than other Greats but before it flew off into Osaka Bay it showed a clear feather spike on the underside of the bill so it was back to gulling again.

Though I've never seen Temminck's in Osaka, they can be found off more open coasts from autumn through winter, especially on the Japan Sea side of the country.

One of many on Tsushima in early May, this clinging to an off-shore stack in the teeth of a gale.

Immature Temminck's in Ishikawa, May 2014.

Immatures with a Pelagic in Hokkaido.

Pelagic is a very uncommon winter visitor which can sometimes be seen off Wakayama or on the Japan Sea coast.

Pelagic Cormorants on icy cliffs in south east Hokkaido in winter.

Red-faced is rare anywhere in Japan and I've never heard of any in Kansai. I've always been unlucky with weather in Hokkaido in summer, fog, rain, drizzle you name it. The shots below were taken on the Nemuro Peninsula, Hokkaido in winter. Birds were fairly easy to find on the sea but they didn't come onto the cliffs until the light was going.

Red-faced on the left and Pelagic on the right, the light was already fading before this bird came in from the sea so decent digiscoped images were already out of the question.

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