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:-
Eastern Spot-billed Duck
Great Crested Grebe
Great White Egret
Eastern Marsh Harrier
Feral Rock Dove
Oriental Turtle Dove
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Japanese Bush Warbler
Eurasian Tree Sparrow