Wednesday 11 March 2015

Eastern Marsh Harrier attacking Green Pheasant

I arrived at northern Lake Biwa after driving down from Ishikawa and managed three hours sleep before dawn.

First I checked out the track leading up the hill near Lake Yogo that I'll always use to access woodland birding; snow willing. Why did even bother, I should have known it would be impassable. I did know it, madness. What is it with this place and snow? There wasn't a trace of snow in any direction away from this unremarkable hill yet the track leading up it was under half a metre of the stuff! The hill isn't even very high. In the end I drove up another (higher) hill about 4km away, not a even a lingering flake. A flock of fairly confiding rosacea Bullfinches was the best find, then it was down to the lake.

Numbers of most duck species were definitely down compared to mid-winter, the exceptions being Tufted and Mallard which actually seemed more numerous if anything. Presumably because they stood out in homogeneous groups rather than being less conspicuously dotted through huge mixed flocks. As with Katano Kamo-ike yesterday the Baikal Teal and Taiga Bean Geese had already departed but there was a flock of 41 Tundra Swans on the fields by the lake. The Swans were as obvious as you'd expect them to be unlike the mysteriously invisible birds I only heard at Kanazawa yesterday.

While watching the Swans I had half an eye on an immature Eastern Marsh Harrier quartering belt of reeds behind me. Suddenly it banked then dropped towards something in the grass and for once I grabbed my camera before my bins and was able to get a few shots of it making three attempts to pounce on a Green Pheasant. The Pheasant stood its ground and faced the Harrier with its tail spread and neck feathers raised. I'll bet if it had tried to run, it would have been breakfast.

And these are some of the Tundra Swans I'd been watching...

The two-day trip to Kanazawa and Lake Biwa netted a total of 81 species:-
Green Pheasant
Tundra Swan
Falcated Duck
Eurasian Wigeon
Eastern Spot-billed Duck
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Eurasian Teal
Common Pochard
Tufted Duck
Greater Scaup
Red-throated Diver
Black-throated Diver
Pacific Diver
Little Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Grey Heron
Great White Egret
Great Cormorant
Temminck's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Black Kite
Eastern Marsh Harrier
Hen Harrier
Eastern Buzzard
Grey-headed Lapwing
Northern Lapwing
Black-tailed Gull
Vega Gull
Slaty-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Feral Rock Dove
Oriental Turtle Dove
Crested Kingfisher
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Bull-headed Shrike
Azure-winged Magpie
Daurian Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Large-billed Crow
Bohemian Waxwing
Great Tit
Varied Tit
Coal Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Japanese Skylark
Brown-eared Bulbul
Japanese Bush Warbler
Japanese White-eye
White-cheeked Starling
Pale Thrush
Dusky Thrush
Daurian Redstart
Brown Dipper
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White Wagtail
Japanese Wagtail
Oriental Greenfinch
Eurasian Siskin
Eurasian Bullfinch
Meadow Bunting
Rustic Bunting
Black-faced Bunting
Reed Bunting

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