Friday, 8 May 2015

Mishima: May 6-7, slow days

A very slow day...

Considering the great views I had of Black-winged Stilt in Mie recently this may seem an odd lead shot. But... this was the 100th species of the trip. I've been looking through records of my past visits, the first year I came I saw 114 species in seven days. Stilt makes it 100 in eight.

...a very slow trip in fact.

I covered more of the island today than I have in a single for a long time, itself an indication of few birds, and the woodland would have been very quiet in places if not for the Bulbuls and White-eyes. The tunnel-like, narrow farmers lanes with dense over-arching hedges, so loved by Narcissus Flycatchers, were dead now that the Flycatchers have moved on. Scrubby areas were quite too without large numbers of hidden buntings calling or else dashing between clumps of bushes, the fallow fields around the paddies were still busy with Greenfinches but were also much less exciting without the prospect of buntings popping up from time to time.

The lack of birds did allow time for shots of other things though. Not to mention an increased count of Carrion now that I pay more attention to the crows.

It's not unusual to come across a mole shrew freshly dead in the open like this. It's as if they're active one moment then drop in their tracks.

One of the local terrapins. 

An invasive duo; terrapin and frogs. I remember hearing the bullfrogs were introduced as a food source. They don't seem popular now, if they ever were.

One of several Japanese toads I saw today.

Olive-backed Pipit numbers don't seem to have changed much and I still met with odd ones on woodland paths. All look very smart and I couldn't help but recall the two odd birds I saw on Hegura at this time last year.

Three shots of a typical OBP. There's a bill to forehead length of spider thread visible in the final image.

Repeated below is a single image of each of those two Hegura birds showing their amazingly fine flank streaks and, particularly on one, extremely worn tertials and signs of late moult.

The very fine streaks probably don't strike most people as strange but the hodgsoni I'm used to seeing have broad, bold markings that run together into irregular lines. As yunnanensis has finer flank streaks I'm happy with that ID but such heavily worn tertials in May are still a puzzle. The other consideration is that I'd have expected to see more yannanensis and that these  Hegura birds wouldn't have come as such a surprise.

Differs from the norm with more strongly buff-tipped median coverts, they're usually white or faintly tipped. The tertials are far more worn than anything I've seen at this time of year. The flanks are more uniformly washed light brown from breast to rear flanks compared to the typical clean white or flushed flanks. 

Incredibly worn tertials and inner greater coverts, it looks as though there are dropped rather than just displaced scapulars suggesting it is in (or earlier suspended) moult.

Day Seven dawned clear and sunny with a slight easterly breeze, not too promising. There were a couple of singing Japanese Thrushes and a Japanese Robin as I headed up a steep road through a wooded area. There was nothing else along the road until it exited the wood and there was a burst of three or four phylloscs and an Asian Brown Fly, then back down to the reservoir where there was a Pond Heron and a new Little Grebe. Along the other side of the Honmura paddies; Common Greenshank.

Most birders had left yesterday or were leaving today and usually I'd be quite excited to have the place to myself but today there didn't seem any hope of finding anything in the light of having covered so much ground yesterday in better weather conditions without reward. So I decided to cut the trip short by one day and leave too.

Back in the village I paid for my room and as I was packing I heard a Northern Hawk Cuckoo starting to sing in one of the gardens, or more likely the woodland edge. Hmm, perhaps it's just as well there won't be many people left on the island and I'll never get to hear about the rarity I missed.  

Species seen 6th:-
Eastern Spot-billed Duck   6
Cattle Egret   6
Grey Heron   3
Great White Egret   7
Intermediate Egret   2
Little Egret   1
Great Cormorant   1
Temminck's Cormorant   2
Osprey   6
Black Kite   common
small accipiter sp   1
Eastern Buzzard   2
Black-winged Stilt   1
Pacific Golden Plover   2 both overhead, the second only heard
Common Greenshank   1 heard
Black-tailed Gull   7
Rock Dove   3
Black Woodpigeon   1
Oriental Turtle Dove   common
Pacific Swift   1
Ashy Minivet   heard only once
Carrion Crow   7
Large-billed Crow   common
Barn Swallow   common from mid-morning
Brown-eared Bulbul   very common, large groups on the move
Japanese Bush Warbler   5 heard
Korean Bush Warbler   1 the same bird as previously
Oriental Reed Warbler   only 1 heard today
Sakhalin Leaf Warbler   still fairly common, often heard calling and sometimes singing but not often seen now that numbers are so much lower
Eastern Crowned Warbler   several singing
Japanese White-eye   very common
Brown-headed Thrush  several in a single party, most thrushes have disappeared, I didn't even hear a single singing Japanese Thrush today.
Pale Thrush   3
Siberian Rubythroat   1 heard
Siberian Blue Robin   1 plus 2 heard
Asian Brown Flycatcher   2
Narcissus Flycatcher   several
Eurasian Tree Sparrow   common around the two villages
Grey Wagtail   1
White Wagtail   1 lugens plus 1 heard
Olive-backed Pipit   4 plus 3-4 heard
Buff-bellied Pipit   1
Brambling   2
Oriental Greenfinch   common
bunting sp   c10 heard

Additional species 7th:-
Chinese Pond Heron   1 this may have been a new bird or one of the Utu bird that I hadn't seen
Grey-tailed Tattler   2
Northern Hawk Cuckoo   1 heard in Honmura
Japanese Robin   2 heard
Eastern Yellow Wagtail   1 flying over, I couldn't make out which taxon

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