Sunday 12 October 2014

Hegura - October 10th

The night sky was fully overcast when I left the the tip of the Noto Peninsular in the very early morning. It's only about 35km to Wajima but once awake why wait... they have coffee down there.

The wind was strengthening as I drove down and the rain began to fall; great! By the time I was waiting in the harbour there were half a dozen Slaty-backed Gulls, I'd only seen two 2CY birds all week. Thinks were already looking good.

A couple of 2CY SBGs that had been a fixture along the coast all week.

Older immatures in Wajima harbour, I love the bird that looks as if it's brought its towel to the beach.

Heavy rain was still falling when I arrived in Wajima but after the front passed, about half way out to the island, the sky cleared completely and the westerly shifted to a stiff northerly.

As I disembarked someone I'd met a couple of days earlier said "It's still here", referring to the Ashy Drongo and gesturing towards the school. Most people on the boat rushed off in that direction and I later realised they were only here for the day specifically to see the Drongo.

Instead of joining the dignified stampede I made my way along the harbour edge and apart from a fly-over Black Woodpigeon the first thing I found was a Little Bunting that posed on the road with an equally confiding Rustic Bunting.

A nice comparison of Rustic and Little. 

Rustic Bunting. 

The Little appears to have lost its left eye!

A more pleasant shot of another Little later in the same area.

Bunting numbers were up compared to my previous visit a couple of days ago. In addition to the newly arrived Little Buntings, Rustic and Elegant were suddenly fairly common.

A new wave of Kamchatka Warblers had come in and I saw one Yellow-browed Warbler. Yellow-browed is to be excpected at this time on Hegura though numbers can vary significantly from year to year. Also on the warbler front there was one Black-browed Reed numbers of which are also very variable but as these skulkers are often fairly vocal I suspect seeing just one was an accurate reflection of low numbers present. There wasn't a hint of Middendorff's which can be quite numerous too, though we're possibly passed the peak time for them. While I missed out on Middendorff's I did score with one of the arch-skulkers, a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler. I've probably seen fewer than 10 PGTips in total on Hegura and always along the same stretch of coast. The other, Lanceolated Warbler, is either even less common or an even better skulker and I've only come across about three in all my visits to the island. On one occasion that I did miraculous flush one it predictably flew just a few feet, then disappeared from the centre of what was effectively a small lawn!

After just one Brambling two days ago there were flocks everywhere and indicative of new arrivals there were many Eye-browed Thrushes in the rank area just above the beach, even a Red-flanked Bluetail was perching on beach stems like a Siberian Stonechat, as was a Japanese Waxwing when I first saw it but it quickly flew off across the island. Daurian Redstarts had arrived and were fairly common.

Possibly the most interesting bird of the day was Feral Rock Dove, no doubt that seems an odd choice but this was an island tick for me. I've seen several "Rock Doves" in the past but they all turned out to be racing pigeons dropping in en route home and each had a full complement of rings. When two birds flew by in the harbour area today I naturally assumed they too would be racers taking a breather. However when I checked them one was completely ring-free. The size difference between these two is remarkable even assuming thet are male and female and the bill size and shape is no less striking. Presumably being bred and well-fed for racing produces a bigger bird. How they've teamed up remains a mystery.

Racer and Feral Rock?

I passed the school a couple of times during my stay and was surprised to find the would-be Drongo twitchers still encamped on the school playing field. I can only imagine it must have departed after the cold front passed through as it was such a conspicuous bird, I'd be surprised if it was staying out of sight four our full four hours on the island.

Just as I was boarding the ferry I heard and then saw two Brown-eared Bulbuls, the only ones of the day. How very different to the mainland.

List of birds seen:-
Mallard   1
Streaked Shearwater   common from the ferry
Grey Heron   1
Eurasian Kestrel   1
accipiter sp   1
Black-tailed Gull   common
Feral Rock Dove   1
Black Woodpigeon   1-2
Oriental Turtle Dove   2-3
Great Spotted Woodpecker   1 plus 1 heard
Large-billed Crow   1+
Japanese Waxwing   1
Barn Swallow   3-4
Japanese Skylark   3
Brown-eared Bulbul   2
Japanese Bush Warbler   common
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler   1
Black-browed Reed Warbler   1
Dusky Warbler   probably 2 heard but not well enough to be sure about
Yellow-browed Warbler   1
Kamchatka Leaf Warbler   common
Eye-browed Thrush   fairly common
Pale Thrush   fairly common
Dusky Thrush   fairly common
Red-flanked Bluetail   5-6
Daurian Redstart   fairly common
Siberian Stonechat   1
Blue Rock Thrush   several
Grey Wagtail   1
White Wagtail   several
Japanese Wagtail   1
Olive-backed Pipit   1
Branbling   fairly common
Oriental Greenfinch   several
Pine Bunting   1 1stw
Little Bunting   3
Rustic Bunting   fairly common
Elegant Bunting   fairly common
Black-faced Bunting   fairly common
Mallard   1