Wednesday 4 December 2013

calidris to glareola

Both Great and Red Knot are regular in tidal areas in Kansai. Great is likely to be present in small numbers on estuaries just south of Tsu in Mie throughout migration periods but it is less certain at Nanko in Osaka. Red is far less common and far from guaranteed on any given a wader hunt but again the Tsu/Matsusaka area is the best bet.

Great Knot at Ebie on the Yodo River in Osaka, September 2009. This site, a small rocky/sandy island just off-shore in the river, can be worth stopping off to check out as it often attracts an interesting variety of waders at high tide but it's not worth making a special trip there as numbers are always small and there's no certainty of anything there.   

Great Knot on Yonaguni early April 2013.

Sanderling can be expected from mid-August onwards on sandy shores, they are quite common in Mie and probably on all suitable beaches.

April birds still looking very wintery on the beach in Tsu city, Mie.

August Sanderlings often look so small running from incoming waves so it's interesting to see how large they are compared to Red-necked Stints.

A January Sanderling in Mie.

Red-necked Stint is a common passage bird and can be found on muddy areas inland as well as at the coast. Tidal areas can have big concentrations and this is a wader visiting birders should have no problem finding at the right times of year. Nanko in Osaka invariably has at least a few, and often large numbers, daily during migration.

Red-necked Stints 8 April starting to acquire breeding plumage.

Another still largely winter on the same date.

Juvenile Red-necked Stints in September, Mie.

Western, Semipalmated and Baird's sandpipers will be off the radar of any visiting birder. I don't think there's ever been a report of Semipalmated in the region but I know of two autumn Westerns in Osaka in recent years, one at Nanko and another on a reclamation area about a kilometre south as the bird flies, and Baird's is also very rare at Nanko. Little Stint is another rare bird here, probably not annual in the region, but there have been a few more records than the other three. Below are two I found in a flock of Red-necked Stints last September (2014).

Little Stint September 2014 Matsusaka, Mie.

A second Little Stint in the same flock of Red-necked Stints.

Temminck's Stint is more regular, yet it somehow took years before I connected with my first here. Since then I bump into them now and again but they can't be expected by a visiting birder.

Part of a wintering flock one Christmas Eve at the top of Ise Bay, the White Wagtail gives a sense of scale.

One of a small party of Temminck's on Ishigaki, April 2013.

Another Temminck's on Ishigaki.

Long-toed Stint is a regular passage bird on wet fields and though in low numbers it's one of the more reliably found passage waders occurring at Ogura in Kyoto city, if you can find suitable fields. Rice fields here aren't yet harvested during peak wader migration whereas in nearby Mie the rice harvest will have been completed and the problem may be too many wet fields to check if the weather has been rainy. It can also be seen at Nanko in Osaka though in far lower numbers than Red-necked.

One of two Long-toed Stints on a flooded field at Ogura, mid-August.

A Long-toed Stint in typical habitat, Mie September 2013. 

Long toes displayed to good effect.

The short wings and short primary projection are obvious here.

Pectoral Sandpiper is another rare wader in the region. They are more regular in spring in the southern most islands. The shots below are of a breeding plumage adult on Yonaguni, April 2013.

Quite a nice comprison between Sharpie (left) and Pec (right).

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper is reasonably common and should be relatively easy to find in spring and autumn. Flooded fields might prove best but tidal pools can also be good.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Yonaguni, April 2013.

Curlew Sandpiper is a scarce migrant through the area, I've never seen an inland bird so the usual coastal areas hold the most hope. In practise that means Nanko in Osaka or Ise Bay.
Dunlin is more of a winter bird, occasionally there will even be a flock on the Kamo River near the botanical gardens, but the best area is along the beaches around Tsu and Matsusaka in Mie where huge numbers can be found. There is always a flock in front of the nature centre at Kohakucho on northern Lake Biwa, however they are without fail grey and white spots gathered on the distant concrete blocks way out on the lake. They never leave those blocks, it's as if they've been taking lessons from Rock Sandpipers.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper is another not-to-be-expected bird, not least because their occurrence may well be suppressed depending on where they turn up. They aren't annual in Kansai, further west in Kyushu is a much better bet.
Broad-billed Sandpiper is scarce, with luck you could see one at Nanko and searching the Tsu/Matsusaka area might also be worthwhile, there's usually at least one around somewhere.
Ruff is rare, I've only seen onein Kyoto city, a mid-winter bird, but coastal sites are generally better.
Red-necked Phalarope is very common off the Pacific and Japan Sea coasts in spring and autumn but short of travelling by ferry, either short to one of the off-shore islands or longer distance the visitor is unlikely to see one. The odd bird turns up on flooded inland fields, Ogura gets them occasionally. Much the same can be said of Grey Phalarope but they are far less common overall and I've never see an inland bird.

Yonaguni, April 2013.

Winter Dunlins in Mie, 11 January 2014.
Winter Dunlin January 2015.

Broad-billed Sandpiper on mudflats in Mie, August 2014.

An April Ruff in Mie. No doubt they are annual there but only visiting occasionally means luck is needed to bump into one here.

A flock of  breeding plumage phalaropes from the Hegura ferry, there were about 90 Red-necked with a single Grey. May 2014.

Oriental Pratincoles can be found on the fields at Ogura every August when a few pass through.  Tramping round the fields for them in the heat is hard work, a car makes life much easier. The shots below were all taken on Yonaguni in April 2013.

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