I spent Wednesday and Thursday mornings wandering along the seawalls around Matsusaka, checking the fields, rivers, pools and ditches to one side or the flats on the other depending on the height of the tide. In the afternoons I moved up the coast a little to just north of Tsu city and sat on the beach looking at the gulls. Though I never think we've seen the back of winter until the cherry blossom has come and gone the total of three days I've spent in Mie this week certainly give the impression that spring is well on the way. Sitting on the beach for 2-3 hours isn't something I'd have considered even a couple of weeks ago with snow still falling but the weather has been great this week. Well, apart from the sandblasting I was on the end of during Wednesday's strong wind; I was still trailing sand behind me when I arrived home last night.
Wednesday morning got off to a great start with a small group of waxwings breakfasting on berries in a tree rising above the seawall, this before the wind got up. Five Japanese and a lone Bohemian, possibly the Bohemian was blown away as it wasn't with the Japanese on Thursday morning.
The lone Bohemian.
The waxwings weren't the only birds attracted to the berry feast, two or three Dusky Thrushes came and went and there was a constant Brown-eared Bulbul presence. Where isn't there? Sea level to mountain top, trust Brown-eared Bulbul to be either the noisiest bird on the block or the one that flits tantalisingly away through the trees time and time again. Somehow they know which will be the more irritating. That said I always think they are a really attractive bird when seen well and in good light.
Brown-eared Bulbuls taking a breather between bouts of obstreperousness.
Not quite there yet but some Duskies are starting to look the business.
So onto those Spotted Redshanks. There have been a couple of Common Greenshanks here all winter, odd ones often over-winter, but not Spotshanks. These were the first sign of wader passage this spring and on Thursday they were joined by a couple of Wood Sandpipers. As usual the Long-billed Dowitchers managed to avoid being photographed, or photographed well, this time they were much closer but always with the sun behind them. A party of nine Black-winged Stilts appeared on Thursday too, the first I've seen here for a while.
Two of the five Spotshanks. They were very mobile moving around the pools behind the seawall and out onto the mudlats at low tide.
Two Long-billed and a Very-Long-billed Dowitcher?
Finally I can't resist posting these digiscoped shots of this distant but striking immature Great Cormorant. With exceptionally white underparts, mottled breast and neck and a sharply demarcated pec band, it was very eye-catching. The upperparts are as adult with a strong metalic green sheen and this combination is not something I can recall having seen before.
More typical immature Great Cormorants are browner below like the following three individuals (also distant digiscoped birds).