Wednesday 8 January 2014

Leiothrix to starlings

Red-billed Leiothrix was a long term bogey bird for me and to this day I haven't seen one around Kyoto city even though everyone else, even casual visitors, seems to have bumped into them at least once. However they do seem quite common in the central mountains of the Kii Peninsular which is where I took the following shots. Since finally getting the monkey off my back I've regularly seen them in central Kyoto prefecture too.

Mt.Misen, June 2013.
Japanese White-eye is a very common species almost everywhere in Kansai, having said that there are areas in northern Kyoto and Hyogo where I've never seen any. For the visitor, they're impossible to miss in and around Kyoto city. Chestnut-flanked White-eye is something that could occur, certainly along the Japan sea coast. I've seen them on Hegurajima but they seem to be more frequent on islands further north in the Japan Sea.

No more than a record shot of Chestnut-flanked White-eye on Hegurajima, 12 October 2011.

Japanese White-eyes in Kyoto botanical gardens.

Presumably the race loochooensis on Iriomote, April 2013. I was surprised it was noticeably smaller in the field than the race japonicus I'm used to seeing in Kyoto.

Goldcrest can be found in conifers throughout the region including those around the city and often even in the Imperial Palace Park and the botanical gardens in the city centre.
I rarely see Wren in the city parks but they are fairly common around the city and more frequent further out in the hills.
Nuthatch is another bird that can be found in the region's forests but sightings are unpredictable, sometimes I see several at Ashyu for example and other times none. I've only ever seen two in Kyoto both sightings were at Fushimi Inari Shrine many years apart showing there is some movement. Treecreeper is another discreet bird of the region's hill forests, I've never seen one in Kyoto city and sightings further afield depend on luck though they seem more numerous in mountains of central Nara than the hills of northern Kyoto.

These Goldcrests were October migrants on Hegurajima.

Wren is common in the region's hills, this in Ashyu Forest, Kyoto.

A rather tatty August Nuthatch in Hokkaido.

Early on a misty mountain morning in Nara, note the duller belly of amurensis compared to the white underparts of asiatica in Hokkaido.

A roadside Treecreeper on Mt.Misen, Nara.

White-cheeked Starling is common in the region and in winter huge numbers roost in city centres. Chestnut-cheeked is a common northward migrant in April and early May, I see many along the the Uji River in Kyoto, but they're very infrequent in autumn. The introduced Crested Myna breeds in the Osaka area but they seem nomadic. Beyond that starlings aren't to be expected here, I've found one wintering European in Kyoto which seems to have been a one-off and White-shouldered and Red-billed are irregular winter visitors in Kansai. Records of Red-billed seem to be increasing in recent years. Daurian is the rarest of the starlings, I've only seen one, a spring migrant on Mishima and I've never heard of one in Kansai.

Crested Myna, one of a group that bred under a major bridge over the Yodo River in Osaka city.

Female Chestnut-cheeked Starling along the Uji River, 3 May 2013.

A male Chestnut-cheeked Starling with a White-shouldered on Tsushima, 4 May 2012.

Red-billed Starling on Mishima, 30 April 2012.

White-cheeked Starling on the Yamato River, Osaka. 

Common Starling is a common winter visitor to Kyushu, flocks of 50 aren't unusual.

Common Starling Kyushu, January 2015.

Common Starling on Hegurajima, October 2007.

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