Sunday 10 November 2013

boobies, tropicbirds & frigatbirds

None of the tropical trio, the tropicbirds, frigatebirds or boobies are likely to be seen in the region. Though there have been a couple of tropicbird recordeds on Lake Biwa after typhoons and frigatebird, usually Lesser, does occur albeit rarely off either coast. They can linger too, a bird off the entrance to Ise Bay and over Irago Misaki in October 2012 hung around for two or three days. However its identity was still the cause of Great/Lesser debate six months on.
The family least likely to put in an appearance it seems is the boobies. This despite Brown Booby being regular relatively close to the region, often seen around the Izu Islands and without setting foot on a ferry in parts of Kyushu in winter. The following shots were all taken from the Ishigaki -Yonaguni ferry in April 2013.
                                                                         Males above.
                                                                       Females below.

                                          Immature male with Yonaguni in the background.
Bird with waterspout in the background! 
The sub-adult Masked Booby in the following shots was on the same ferry trip, on the return sailing there were two adults but but the violent sea conditions meant photography was impossible, even birding was impossible in fact. For anyone who may be planning to travel by this ferry be warned, when I saw how large the ferry was I thought rumours of how rough the crossing can be had been exaggerated, but not so. Both hands were needed to hang on as a roll would dip the deck down to water level on one side, crests could run along the deck, to the other side only sky was visible.
Immature Masked Booby between Ishigaki and Yonaguni.
Red-footed Booby is another southern speciality and the following shots were of birds around the Volcano Islands or Iwo-jima but Io-to to Japanese birders.
Adult Red-footed Booby, Minami Iwo. 

Immature Red-footed Booby, Kita Iwo.
Having stressed how unlikely it is to see any of these birds in Kansai, in October 2015 I saw Red-footed Booby and an unidentified frigatebird (probably Great) about 10km apart in Ise Bay on the same day! Though the frigatebird was never seen again the Booby had been present since October 20 and is still there as I update thid entry on November 15.

Red-footed Booby taking an extended northern break in the Tsu area of Ise Bay.
I've seen Red-tailed Tropicbird as far north as Izu Islands but they're only to be expected in the far south. 
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Minami Iwo.
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Kita Iwo.
White-tailed Tropicbird, Kita Iwo.

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