Friday 17 January 2014

Brown Dipper to accentors

Brown Dipper is very common on the region's mountain rivers and streams, from broad valley bottoms with many channels meandering through boulder-strewn beds to narrow forested streams you can jump across. Even in the centre of villages in the hills. Some move downstream closer to the city in winter but most stay on the breeding rivers year round as they rarely freeze here. A site isn't required, any mountain waterway will do, but I never fail to see them on the river alongside the road when heading north out of the city on route 367, then on any of the tributaries heading towards Ashyu Forest.

An impersonation of juvenile Thayer's Gull?

Another Ashyu bird. 

This one in Hokkaido.

There are three species of sparrow on the Japan list but House Sparrow is a vagrant. Russet Sparrow is a winter visitor to Kansai and it's one of those species which, though far from rare, isn't easy to find on demand. I most regularly see them on the fields at Ogura but any open arable land with clumps of bushes or trees could attract them. Eurasian Tree Sparrow is extremely common in urban and rural areas and will be seen everywhere except forests and mountain tops.

There have only been a handful of records of House Sparrow in Japan so I was delighted to see this male on Mishima (Yamaguchi) in early May 2008.

Russet Sparrows were regular in winter in these riverside trees at Ogura but the trees have been felled and I still need a new favourite spot.

Male Russet.

Female Russet.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow, impossible to miss in Kansai.

Alpine Accentor only just makes it into Kansai by the skin of its teeth, they occur on the summit of Mt.Ibuki which is just inside Shiga though the drive to the top begins in Gifu Prefecture. Siberian Accentor does occur in winter on the Japan Sea side of the region but it's by no means regular. However it could easily go unnoticed. Japanese Accentor breeds in the mountains of the Kii Peninsular and on Mt.Ibuki. In winter it's more widespread and can be found in lower wooded hills but they are unobtrusive and can be overlooked.

A winter Japanese Accentor on Mt.Katsuragi south of Osaka.

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