Monday, 4 May 2015

Mishima; May 3-4, rain!

Another opportunity to pair two days together, again the weather was similar. The first spots of rain began to fall at 05:55 yesterday as I was sitting drinking awful canned coffee overlooking the paddy fields on the edge of the village. It rained lightly or heavily until nightfall and beyond. I didn't mind too much, it was what I'd hoped for after all. Every time I lifted my bins water ran down the back of my neck, gravity and the weight of water my hat had absorbed meant the brim was ever ready to dip inside my collar and tip the surplus in tickling runnels. Fortunately it lacked the chill of English rain so it was little more than a minor irritation but nevertheless I called it a day after only eight hours in the field. Eight hours of very few birds it has to be said.

The only standout bird of the day was a Korean Bush Warbler, its song instantly giving it away. Though I've seen them on other islands this was my first borealis for Mishima, which incidentally is the only place I've ever had cantaurians and I'm still hoping for an armchair tick from that one.

Other new birds for the trip were Dusky Thrush flying over and a Great Cormorant on the reservoir. My camera stayed safely stowed all day so there is no photographic evidence to prove I ever left the shelter of my accommodation.

This morning I left at 05:30, it was still dark. Dawn was late coming even though the rain had temporarily stopped, Emboldened I didn't both with the waterproof over-trousers hence the awful canned coffee was made even more depressing by getting a wet bum. Soon the clouds cutting off the hill tops descended and I suppose at some point became mist. Not long after that a west wind sprang up with intermittent drizzle; west wind, mist and drizzle... it was too good to be true.

New birds for the trip came quicker, Common Kestrel getting the ball rolling followed by Grey-streaked Flycatcher in a tree with five Asian Browns (more than the trip total so far in one tree!). Waders, which have been strangely absent chipped in with a Grey-tailed Tattler and the first Common Sandpiper of the day. It was good to get some different species but they were all just list- padders really.

By 10:00 the mist was reverting to low cloud and a Mugimaki Flycatcher was quickly followed by a White's Thrush then a singing Swinhoe's Robin. Arguably Chinese Bush Warbler could be the arch-skulker as it isn't even on the Japanese list but being realistic Swinhoe's Robin has to take the title. This one was no more than three metres off the path in the crook of a tight bend, I could walk round looking from different angles as it blythely sang away totally unconcerned by me and my frustration. Until it stopped singing and the scrappy tangle of vegetation went from being the most exciting spot on the island to just a scrappy tangle of vegetation.

One good thing about the low cloud/mist was the thrushes no longer considered me a threat for some reason. Maybe the thought I'd be too slow moving trying to prevent water running down my neck. Brown-headed were sitting up all over the place but buntings could still be tricky. Back home I'm confident enough to identify all the regular species by call but here there are too many possible species that I only hear irregularly and I want to get a decent sighting before I'll put a name to anything. In fact I only identified 14 individuals today two Tristram's and 12 Japanese Yellow, there were probably far more of the latter.

Maybe it was a Black and White Warbler in a past life. 

The other Tristram's was more confiding. 

A fairly typical view of a Japanese Yellow Bunting. 

And the rear aspect. There were quite a few in this field, in fact I stopped counting for fear of duplication.

One very interesting bird today was an Eastern Yellow Wagtail x ? hybrid with a black face. This stood out from a great distance, I saw it on the seawall at about 100m and I couldn't believe it. It flew over the wall and disappeared and I had to go legging after it. I caught up with it on the rocky shore where it had teamed up with three Grey Wagtails but the path didn't continue far and I couldn't get close to it before it flew again and I lost it. Though black on the face there is a tiny spot of whitish before the eye which probably rules out the rarer taxa.

Tschutschensis seem rather variable but this would be taking things to extreme. It's something I'll have to look into more when I get home.

As a matter of interest here are two more birds I saw in the past, both early May.

This bird is a slightly duller green above but does have a black mask, however the white supercillium is prominent, I'm now wondering whether this isn't a hybrid too.  

Also duller green but this has a completely grey mask concolourous with the crown, a typical tschutschensis.

In early afternoon the sky suddenly began to clear though the wind was unchanged which I thought was odd if the front had passed through. No doubt there's a technical term for clouds like the ones below but to me they're 'funny clouds'.

Earlier in the week a birder told me he'd seen the Kara shigi sagi "it's behind the paddies over there" he said and told me it has been here for some time. I mistranslated this to Chinese Pond Heron (Aka gashira sagi) and the following morning headed off to the back of the paddies to try to find it in the scrubby reed bed between the paddies and the sea. Sure enough, there it was...

However today someone else told me they'd seen it and the penny dropped, they were talking about Swinhoe's Egret. I asked where it was and he told me it was on a stretch rocky shore which actually is behind those paddies where I came across the Pond Heron. Off I went again and quickly found it. The funny thing is I've never seen the Pond Heron again since the misunderstanding.

Swinhoe's Egret.

Birds today:-
Easten Spot-billed Duck   7
Little Grebe   2
Cattle Egret   7
Grey Heron   5
Great White Egret   9
Intermediate Egret   11
Little Egret   2
Swinhoe's Egret   1
Great Cormorant   1
Common Kestrel   1
Osprey   4
Black Kite   common
buzzard sp   1 flushed from a tree in the mist
Common Greenshank   1
Wood Sandpiper   4
Grey-tailed Tattler   1
Common Sandpiper   7
Black-tailed Gull   3
Rock Dove   14
Black Woodpigeon   1 plus 1 heard
Oriental Turtle Dove   common
Oriental Cuckoo   1 heard
Ashy Minivet   heard once or twice
Carrion Crow   2
Large-billed Crow   very common
Japanese Waxwing   1
Great Tit   2
Barn Swallow   common
Brown-eared Bulbul    common
Japanese Bush Warbler   several heard
Korean Bush Warbler   1 heard (yesterday's bird)
Oriental Reed Warbler   2 plus several heard
Sakhalin Leaf Warbler   common
Eastern Crowned Warbler   common
Japanese White-eye   common
White's Thrush   1
Japanese Thrush   several
Brown-headed Thrush   common
Pale Thrush   several
Japanese Robin   many heard
Siberian Rubythroat   4 heard
Swinhoe's Robin   1 heard
Blue Rock Thrush   4
Grey-streaked Flycatcher   1
Asian Brown Flycatcher   12
Narcissus Flycatcher   common
Mugimagi Flycatcher   1
Blue and White Flycatcher   8
Tree Sparrow   common round human habitation but one along the coast road, a personal first
Eastern Yellow Wagtail   1
Grey Wagtail   5
White Wagtail   2
Olive-backed Pipit   2
Red-throated Pipit   1
Buff-bellied Pipit   2
Oriental Greenfinch   common
Japanese Yellow Bunting   12
Tristram's Bunting   2
bunting sp   fairly common

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