Saturday 1 February 2014

Common Starling

This year I finish work at lunchtime rather tham late afternoon on Saturdays, which gives me an excellent opportunity to visit the Yodo River at Hirakata. The river is becoming much wider here at the mid-way point between Kyoto and Osaka and a broad cycle path running alongside the river gives good access.

The highlight today was a Common Starling in with hundreds of White-cheeked Starlings in the berry trees by the river.

There was a reported Red-billed Starling in the same trees last week but the closest I came to that was a melanin deficient White-cheeked with an entirely white head and breast. That wasn't the only plumage aberation of the day with odd-looking Common Coot and Meadow Bunting too.

 Another bird of local interest was an American Wigeon with the other ducks on sandbars in the river and I was told there was also a Common Shelduck about 1km down stream. Of more interest to me were a number of Vega Gulls on the sandbars, this is something of a rarity in Kyoto city not much further north and is really indicative of the change in aviafauna heading towards the coast. Great Crested Grebe and Dunlin were two species on the river here that I'd normally associate with the coast (or Lake Biwa).

Other minor surprises were seeing 15-20 Long-tailed Rosefinches yet not a single male and a Green Pheasant up a tree at midday in bright sunshine. Pheasants aren't so unexpected in trees early or late and they often perch in branches in the rain but sunny midday was maybe a first for me.

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