Tuesday 30 December 2014

Great Grey Shrike, Kyushu

I drove round from Isahaya overnight and arrived at Tamana early, very early, on the morning of the 28th and waited for dawn. I could hear Northern Lapwings calling very close to the car and as the fields came into clearer view an accipiter, probably a Northern Goshawk dashed by flushing them. Birding was under way.

The main goals here were Great Grey and Isabelline Shrike but I only had the vaguest idea of where to look and so drove round slowly to get my bearings and check all the very many Bull-headed Shrikes. There were lots of bird around which made for an interesting morning. Plenty of ducks and waders on the estuary including the first Falcated Ducks of the trip as well as several Black-faced Spoonbills and Saunder's Gulls. Three Hooded Cranes were joined by a party of 13 White-naped on the fields which were alive with passerines and Peregrine, Merlin, Common Kestrel, another accipiter briefly and Hen Harrier were all adding to the excitement. But no shrikes other than Bull-headed.

As at Isahaya Common Starling was fairly common.

 Four Common Shelducks on the fields provided much better photographic opportunities than the usual distant estuary birds.

Wagtails and pipits were common on the fields and the best birds were a leucopsis White Wagtail and a Richard's Pipit.

Finally, just before noon I connected with the Great Grey! This was my third Japan tick of the trip and as I'd only been hoping for one before leaving home things were going really well.

Things had been going really well but a flat battery in the car brought an abrupt halt to that! I asked a couple of truck drivers if they had any jumper leads, they didn't. However one of them gave me a lift to a garage to get help, it was closed. How quickly things can go south. Nevertheless my truck driving mate wasn't about to be beaten by this minor set back and after a brief spell on the phone he got someone to drive out to my aid and we parked up waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Pretty soon a pick-up came and we headed back to my stranded car. The mechanic told me the battery hadn't been charging, either it needed or replacing or it was just a problem with the negative terminal. Either way he recommended I go straight back to Kyoto and not to turn off the engine for any reason including re-fueling. Hmm. After paying him Y1,000, you can't complain can you, I was on my way again - and not back to Kyoto. I'd lost the afternoon but there were still birds to see.

List of species seen:-
Common Shelduck   4
Falcated Duck   12
Eurasian Wigeon   high 100s
Mallard   100s
Eastern Spot-billed Duck   100s
Northern Pintail   c150
Eurasian Teal   15
Little Grebe   1
Black-necked Grebe   2
Black-faced Spoonbill   8
Grey Heron   several
Great White Egret   2
Little Egret   1
Great Cormorant   several
Eurasian Kestrel   3-5
Merlin   2
Peregrine   1

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