Wednesday 8 October 2014

Ashy Drongo - Hegura

My incredible luck holds, another day-trip to the island and another Japan tick! Ashy Drongo, this time and it makes up for one I just missed in Osaka a couple of years ago.

I hadn't been too hopeful on the crossing out, the weather wasn't the best to bring stuff in but the island was doing quite well for numbers of birds. This time I turned north from the quay and started picking up birds in the harbour grass and bushes almost immediately, Rustic Buntings and a pipit that got away, then a Pine Bunting flew onto the wires before flying never to be relocated. Soon after that a scuffle in the weeds drew my attention to two Dusky Warblers. Dusky Thrush was already proving fairly common. I'd had a Dusky Thrush on the mainland yesterday and this could be something of a bellweather bird, vocal and conspicuous it could give an indication of how well the tip of the Noto Peninsular at Rokkozaki compares with Hegura. The evidence was indicating it wasn't even the poor-man's Hegura I had suspected. More of a last resort for the penniless.

I was trying to get views of a couple of Rustic Buntings in a bush when this Pine appeared on the wires, staying only long enough for me to get these two shots before it flew off along the harbour never to be seen again. 

Not a great view of Dusky but better than many, as often as not the call is all you get.

It wasn't long before I came across a Naumann's Thrush amongst the Duskys. Pine Bunting, Naumann's Thrush, this was typical October birding. Though a Lesser Cuckoo flashing by might be a little late, the number of Kamchatka Leaf Warblers was well down from a week ago. Other turdus thrushes seemed down too, at least there were far fewer calls. Within a Japan birding context turdus thrushes with the notable exception of Dusky seem to learn the art of how to land giving minimum exposure at an early age no matter how sparse the foliage, pre-hatching it would seem; a tantalising bill tip... or perhaps lone knee.

Naumann's Thrush perched up  nicely.

Luck plays a major part in seeing any given bird, a random choice to head in one direction rather than another equally attractive route. Being at a particular spot when the bird happened to be close to the track. Seeing the Drongo was very lucky. I thought I heard a Dusky Warbler but got distracted then retraced my steps, it turned out there were two Dusky and a Radde's in the same area and after waiting a while I continued back the way I'd originally come rather than head to the south end as I'd been doing. Because of this randomness, a single sTAC call in the pathside creeping weeds followed by another glimpsed bird ahead which drew me on then forcing me to turn back a little, I approached the harbour to catch the ferry on a route that took me past the Drongo where a photographer crouched in the grass gestured to where it was perched on a statue in the old school. Brilliant! I didn't even mind not finding such an obvious bird myself.

Just enough time to reach the ferry and back to the mainland.

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