Wednesday 10 December 2014

Late Spotted Redshank and Wood Sand, Mie 7 Dec

I planned to visit north Biwako last weekend but the snow at my intended start point north of the lake had increased from 9cm to 47cm in the 12 hours before I was going to leave on Saturday night. That was enough to change my mind and I headed to sunny Mie instead.

As the first light angled across the coastal pools the first thing I saw, apart from hundreds of ducks, was a party of Long-billed Dowitchers in the far corner. I hurried round but a beautiful male Northern Goshawk dashed across the pool arriving long before me. It perched on a telegraph pole close to the Dowitchers and not surprisingly by the time I got there they'd moved much further out and I could only get these rather poor digiscoped shots. Of course the Goshawk, job done, also flew off before I got there.

The next pool held an even bigger surprise with two late Wood Sandpipers and a Spotted Redshank!

Birding was good, a wide range of species, with plenty of local specialities hard to see elsewhere in Kansai - at least in the same place. Saunders Gulls were quite common over pools and mudflats, Oystercatchers and big numbers of sea ducks off-shore.

Most Great Crested Grebes were out on the sea but this was conveniently in Matsusaka harbour.

There were several Buff-bellied Pipits but these shots were of two birds I saw a day earlier on Saturday, one quite obviously bigger and darker than the other.

I'd covered most of my usual spots more quickly than I would have done during wader season so headed to the north of Tsu city which is better for some sea ducks and holds bigger numbers of large gulls. Driving through the back streets I took a wrong turn and ended up on the seawall earlier than I'd planned but this turned out to be an error that paid off. I scanned the off-shore ducks and almost immediately found four Black Scoters, three males and a female, but no sooner had I got onto them then they flew off. Had I not taken the wrong turn I'd never have seen this new bird for my Kansai list. I've always thought of Ise Bay as a likely place to find them but until last weekend had never had the luck. They're very common not much further up the Pacific coast but they don't quite come far enough down.

This was the icing on the cake and the first time I've been thankful for snow wrecking my plans. I could've gone home happy but I still wanted to check the gull beach. The clock gave me plenty of time to spare but the increasing cloud meant light was failing prematurely and by the time I parked and walked out onto the beach light was poor. Even worse there were no concentrations of gulls, just a dribble of odd ones along the kilometres of sand. There was a small cluster associated with a Cormorant flock sitting around an outfall further up the beach so I made may way up and sat in hope something would drop in. And before long it did. A gull that looked suspiciously like a first winter Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans cachinnans but that's going to be the subject of the next post.

List of birds seen:-
Green Pheasant   1
Gadwall   common
Falcated Duck   50+, a low number
Eurasian Wigeon   1000s
Mallard   100s
Eastern Spot-billed Duck   50-100
Northern Shoveler   c80
Northern Pintail   common
Eurasian Teal   surprisingly few, maybe 30
Common Pochard   1000s
Tufted Duck   100s
Greater Scaup   1000s
Black Scoter   4
Common Goldeneye   15-20
Smew   2
Red-breasted Merganser   20-30
Little Grebe   several
Great Crested Grebe   c20
Black-necked Grebe   60-80
Grey Heron   c20
Great White Egret   c20
Little Egret   10+
Great Cormorant   1000+
Eurasian Kestrel   1
Osprey   c10
Black Kite   6-7
Northern Goshawk   2
Common Coot   5-10
Eurasian Oystercatcher   4
Black-winged Stilt   19
Grey Plover   42
Kentish Plover   common
Common Snipe   8-10
Long-billed Dowitcher   5
Eurasian Curlew   1
Wood Sandpiper   2
Common Sandpiper   c20
Sanderling   common
Dunlin   c400-500
Black-tailed Gull   common
Common Gull   c10
Vega Gull   c300
Slaty-backed Gull   3
Heuglin's Gull   4
Black-headed Gull   common
Saunder's Gull   20-30
Feral Rock Dove   common
Oriental Turtle Dove   several
Common Kingfisher   5
Bull-headed Shrike   2
Carrion Crow   very common
Large-billed Crow   fairly common
Japanese Skylark   2-3
Brown-eared Bulbul   fairly common
White-cheeked Starling   common
Dusky Thrush   several
Daurian Redstart   6
Blue Rock Thrush   1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow   fairly common
White Wagtail   common
Japanese Wagtail   2
Olive-backed Pipit   5
Buff-bellied Pipit   5-6
Oriental Greenfinch   common
Meadow Bunting   3-4 heard
Black-faced Bunting   1 heard
Reed Bunting   2

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