Saturday 2 May 2015

Mishima: May 1st-2nd, Pale-legged Warbler

It's probably best to lump these two dates together, the weather was exactly the same. Hot, sunny and without a breath of air. The birds were much the same too.

Though the conditions weren't conducive to new arrivals, thanks to all the rain on April 30 the island was swarming with migrants yesterday; Eastern Crowned and Skahalin Leaf Warblers, Narcissus and Blue and White Flycatchers were everywhere. And I mean everywhere! There wasn't a time you could about-face and not have all four in view, perhaps Blue and White were slightly less common but the numbers involved were colossal. I've been on small islands where every branch has been dripping birds after a fall but this is a big place, about 6km x 2km.

Going up the road for dinner last night there was a constant overhead 'tseep' signalling a mass departure of thrushes. I was sure the exodus underway wouldn't be limited to thrushes and I was expecting to find the island birdless this morning. Sure enough numbers of everything were way down today but the big four were still well represented, numerous enough to be dazzling at times, just no longer all the time.

The undoubted highlight for me was finally getting Pale-legged Warbler on my Japan list yesterday, in fact it was a lifer. The only other I've heard (seen even, but only just) was also on Mishima about seven or eight years ago. Each and every spring I have at least half an ear out for Pale-legged, I hate having heard-only birds hovering just off-list (Slaty-legged Crake take heed).

I'd been sitting eating lunch with hoards of Sakhalin calling, and quite a few singing too, when an Oriental Scops Owl started singing behind me. They often sing during the day on migration, I heard another at midday today (and there's one outside now as I write), but hearing them always raises a smile. Anyway, this got me thinking I should Google Pale-legged song and see if it could draw a response, a total long shot I knew. I typed in the name and just as I hit play the connection was lost, good grief. Almost in the same instant a Pale-legged started to sing. I checked my phone, and no it wasn't coming from there, it really was a Pale-legged Warbler singing right in front of me slightly down the slope! I'd positioned myself where a narrow path created a break in the trees and the bird came into the gap still singing then darted away deeper into the trees never to seen again, well at least never to be heard again - I wouldn't know it if I saw it. The brief view was never going to allow me to get a record shot but I didn't care too much.

I did manage to get some reasonable shots of the commoner two warblers.

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler showing how grey they are on the head and nape. 

The much brighter Eastern Crowned.

Other highlights were few but a male and female Chinese Grosbeak in the same clump of bushes as a Chinese Penduline Tit and Tristram's Bunting was an excellent moment early in the day. In the end I managed 19 new birds for the trip compared to 15 the previous day. Today was quieter, hard work in the sun to be honest, and Japanese Night Heron (accidentally flushed from its roost), Chinese Pond Heron (which has been around for ages) and Asian Stubtail (two seen and five others calling) were the only additions.

Other flycatchers have been poorly represented with only two Asian Brown and a Dark-sided yesterday, the latter is surprisingly scarce on migration so I was pleased to get one as light was failing, and one more Asian Brown today.

Asian Brown Flycatcher. 

Two different 2CY Narcissus. 

Another Narcissus that doesn't look adult either with limited yellow in the rump and white in the wing. 

I didn't get shots of any of the better species, if they don't show well quickly I'm not going to hang around when there may be other things to find. Other migrants that did present themselves follow.

A Mandarin on a paddy edge looked very at-the-park.  

Rook might be expected but it's the first I've seen on the island. 

A strikingly pale Buzzard in the distance with no sense of scale had me hoping for better. 

And finally, the other thing Mishima is famous for...

                                                                                           ... beef!

Species seen yesterday:-
Mandarin Duck   1
Eastern Spot-billed Duck   3
Little Grebe   2
Black-crowned Night Heron   heard overhead at night
Cattle Egret   3
Grey Heron   2
Great White Egret   6 (including an albus)
Intermediate Egret   6
Little Egret   2
Osprey   6
Black Kite   common
Eurasian Sparrowhawk   1
Eastern Buzzard   2
Latham's Snipe   2
Common Snipe   1
Green Sandpiper   2
Wood Sandpiper   2
Feral Rock Dove   12 (only ever in Utu village)
Black Woodpigeon   1
White-bellied Green Pigeon   1 heard
Oriental/Common Cuckoo   1 (probably Oriental)
Oriental Scops Owl   1 heard
Pacific Swift   3-4 on four occasions
Ashy Minivet   common
Rook   1
Carrion Crow   4-5
Large-billed Crow   very common
Great Tit   2
Chinese Penduline Tit   1
Barn Swallow   common
Japanese Skylark   1
Brown-eared Bulbul   common
Japanese Bush Warbler   3 heard
Oriental Reed Warbler   7 heard
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler   1
Sakhalin Leaf Warbler   very common
Eastern Crowned Warbler   very common
Goldcrest   1
Chestnut-cheeked Starling   8
Japanese Thrush   several
Pale Thrush   fairly common
Brown-headed Thrush   fairly common
Japanese Robin   7 heard
Siberian Rubythroat   1 heard
Siberian Blue Robin   4 plus 2 heard
Blue Rock Thrush   4
Dark-sided Flycatcher   1
Asian Brown Flycatcher   2
Narcissus Flycatcher   abundant
Blue and White Flycatcher   common
Eurasian Tree Sparrow   common around human habitation
Grey Wagtail   1 heard
White Wagtail   1 heard
Olive-backed Pipit   2
Brambling   heard
Oriental Greenfinch   fairly common
Chinese Grosbeak   2
Japanese Grosbeak   5-10
Tristram's Bunting   2
Black-faced Bunting   several including 1 spodocephala

additional species seen today were:-
Japanese Night Heron   1
Chinese Pond Heron   1
Asian Stubtail   2 plus 5 heard
Siberian Thrush   1
Elegant Bunting   1
Japanese Yellow Bunting   2

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