Friday 11 April 2014

Tsu/Matsusaka, Mie

I spent all day on the 9th and the morning of the 10th in the Tsu/Matsusaka area of Mie this week hoping to see migrant waders. My enthusiasm was probably getting the better of me, numbers are still fairly low and some common species weren't in yet, no Red-necked Stint or Grey-tailed Tattler for example, but I still managed 20 species.  Eight Spotted Redshank, single Long-billed Dowitcher and Ruff were the pick of the bunch. None are rare but I don't see Spotted Redshank every time I go, Dowitchers are unpredictable and Ruff really is a scarce passage bird.

Because spring passage wasn't in full swing and many wintering species had departed there was something of a 'between seasons' feel to the trip. There weren't any Common Shelduck or even the normally so common Goldeneye but others were still hanging on with a single Black Brant and a couple of Saunder's Gulls. Two Chestnut-cheeked Starlings, which is a reliable early passerine, were the only non-wader migrants I came across.

I'd planned to make it a one-day trip but decided to hang on and spend the night in the van as the tide tables showed a much bigger drop the following day. Counter intuitively waders are often much closer at low tide as birds can gather on distant sandbars and follow the receding waterline towards the coast. As things turned out the views were better on tidal areas but wader numbers were identical except for four new Bar-tailed Godwits.

I left just before midday as I wanted to check out an area in the mountains on the return journey. It always looks promising driving through but in the event the accessible areas, and much of the rest, were monotonous ranks of cedar. Even Large-billed Crows and Brown-eared Bulbuls were thin on the ground.

There were huge rafts of Greater Scaup well off-shore, 200-300 on a large pond and a few, like these in some of the harbours.

The Ruff was a nice surprise.

Long-billed Dowitcher

Spotted Redshanks

This is usually one of the commoner species so in that respect just a single was disappointing but as the moult of most I see isn't as advanced I was happy enough. 

On the 9th there was just a slight dip between high tides and the Oystercatchers were only seen at one location but on the 10th there was a much bigger fall in the water level and birds were dispersed over a wide area and were much easier to find.

Some of the Bar-tailed Godwits were very red and views were quite close on the 10th.

These three Barwits were more distant on the 9th, so was their breeding plumage. One of them was a monster with an amazingly long, thick and straight bill, I was expecting it to be Black-tailed until I got the scope on it.

The Grey Plover must be either late breeders or fast moulters, there wasn't a single black 'n' white amongst them. 

I don't think it's possible to get a shot of Sanderling with two feet on the ground, with two birds there's at least a chance.

First summer Saunder's Gull, one of only two I managed to see. 

I was going to say a slightly odd looking Slaty-backed but then what's really odd is to see two that look the same.

The Buff-bellied Pipits are starting to come into breeding plumage but this bird caught my eye more because of its long, hook-tipped upper mandible. 

List of birds seen
Chinese Bamboo Partridge   1 heard
Green Pheasant   3 plus many heard each morning
Falcated Duck
Eurasian Wigeon
Eastern Spot-billed Duck
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Eurasian Teal
Tufted Duck
Greater Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Grey Heron
Great White Egret
Intermediate Egret   1
Little Egret
Great Cormorant
Osprey   1
Black kite
Moorhen   1
Eurasian Oystercatcher   29
Black-winged Stilt   3
Grey-headed Lapwing   10-15
Grey Plover   16
Little Ringed Plover   fairly common 9th, only 1 10th
Kentish Plover   common
Lesser Sandplover   2
Common Snipe
Long-billed Dowitcher   1
Bar-tailed Godwit   7
Eurasian Curlew   1
Far Eastern Curlew   2
Spotted Redshank   8
Redshank   2
Greenshank   2
Wood Sandpiper   1
Common Sandpiper   4
Sanderling   common on some beaches
Dunlin   c300
Ruff   1
Black-tailed Gull   several
Common Gull   fairly common
Vega Gull   fairly common
Slaty-backed Gull   3
Taimyr Gull   fairly common
Black-headed Gull  
Saunder's Gull   2
Feral Rock Dove
Oriental Turtle Dove
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker   1
Bull-headed Shrike   several
Carrion Crow
Large-billed Crow
Great Tit   1
Barn Swallow
Zitting Cisticola   3
Brown-eared Bulbul
Japanese Bush Warbler   many heard
Chestnut-cheeked Starling   2
White-cheeked Starling
Dusky Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush   2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White Wagtail
Olive-backed Pipit   1
Buff-bellied Pipit   10+
Oriental Greenfinch
Meadow Bunting
Black-faced Bunting   4-8
Reed bunting   several

Additional species driving back
Varied Tit   1
Coal Tit   fairly common
Long-tailed tit   1 party
Japanese White-eye   several
Eurasian Wren   3 heard
Grey Wagtail   1

Mammals on the drive out
Sika Deer   c30
Japanese Marten   1
mouse sp   1

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