Sunday 28 December 2014

Black Storks and Yellow Wagtails, Isahaya Bay

As I already posted, Booted Warbler was the star bird yesterday. But far from the only bird.

I arrived at the expanse of fields at about 10am and drove down the central road to the seawall to get a feel for the area. I didn't really expect to connect with the Storks on the way across, but it would have been nice. I was at a loss even where to start looking and a systematic approach might not be the best option with a potentially mobile target. But luck was on my side and after an hour, almost out of my search area towards the south, I caught site of a Stork flying off in the distance. It landed atop a utility pole and fortunately stayed there as a landmark while I made my way towards it. As I approached it dropped down onto the fields where I realised the other bird had been all along. I would never have found the birds at that location had I not seen one drop in, it really was amazing good luck to have been facing the right way to glimpse the distantly flying bird. A truck flushed them onto utility poles not far off as the Stork flies but it was some minutes before I could make my way dog-legging across the fields and bridging the levees across the flood gates. It was well worth it!

I'd almost forgotten I was in crane country but noisy flock of 33 Hooded Cranes crossing the fields was a reminder of what a great place Kyushu is for birding, though some birds, like this beautiful, very pale Merlin, I can see in Kyoto.

Hooded Cranes

The most productive location I found was an old maize field that was being cut. A huge flock of Rooks drew attention to it and though there were no hoped for Daurian Jackdaws with them there were plenty of other birds gathered around the rapidly shrinking stand of withered crop. About 50 European Starlings were easy to see, others less so. A Japanese Quail flushed by the harvester was totally unexpected.

Starlings perched in the final row of maize, everything was gone within 30 minutes of my arrival.

While the Quail was a surprise, it was nothing to the shock of finding the Booted Warbler of course and I can't resist posting a couple more shots of it.

There were also about 200 Buff-bellied Pipits and the same number of White Wagtails attracted to the feast. Though the only Red-throated Pipit I had was a bird calling overhead earlier in the day. There weren't any unusual White Wagtails as far as I could see but three Yellow Wagtails were far more exciting.

These are possibly the only winter Yellow Wagtails I've seen in Japan and it was interesting to see how much they differed, one very dark, another extensively yellow below and the third a pale grey individual.

Two shots of the dark bird with a very dark mask and almost thrush-like breast.

I only saw this bird briefly, it was much greener above and yellower below.

A very grey individual with greenish mainly restricted to the ear coverts but with some on the crown and mantle while pale yellow was limited to the throat.

As the afternoon wore on several Racoon Dogs came up onto the roadside and it was distressing to see how badly they're suffering with mange.

List of birds seen:-
Japanese Quail   1
Green Pheasant   1
Common Shelduck   1
Mandarin Duck   c50 on a reservoir en route to Isahaya
Eurasian Wigeon   100+
Mallard   common
Eastern Spot-billed Duck   common
Eurasian Teal   9
Common Pochard   common
Little Grebe   5
Great Crested Grebe   2
Black Stork   2
Grey Heron   several
Great White Egret   c5
Little Egret   10+
Pacific Reef Egret   1 en route
Great Cormorant   several
Eurasian Kestrel   4-5
Merlin   2
Osprey   several
Black Kite   several
Eastern Marsh Harrier   3-5
Hen Harrier   2
Eastern Buzzard   1
Moorhen   several
Common Coot   several
Hooded Crane   33
Northern Lapwing   c45
Common Snipe   1
Green Sandpiper   3-4
Rock Dove
White-bellied Green Pigeon   1 heard en route
Oriental Turtle Dove   fairly common
Common Kingfisher   5-10
Bull-headed Shrike   5-6
Rook   c500
Carrion Crow   fairly common
Large-billed Crow   several
Great Tit   1
Long-tailed Tit   a party en route
Japanese Skylark   common
Brown-eared Bulbul   fairly common
Japanese Bush Warbler   1 heard
Booted Warbler   1
Japanese White-eye   several
White-cheeked Starling   several
European Starling   50+
Pale Thrush   common
Dusky Thrush   fairly common
Daurian Redstart   common
Eurasian Tree Sparrow   common
Eastern Yellow Wagtail   3
Grey Wagtail   1
White Wagtail   very common
Japanese Wagtail   1
Red-throated Pipit   1 heard
Buff-bellied Pipit   common
Brambling   80-100
Oriental Greenfinch   several
Japanese Grosbeak   1 heard en route
Meadow Bunting   several
Black-faced Bunting   several
Reed Bunting   fairly common

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