Monday 11 January 2016

Forest Wagtail - Miike

January 7th I planned to try again for Scaly-sided Merganser, then once as far as Satsuma it would be easy to cut across to Miike for the Forest Wagtail.

I covered every possible visible inch of the Sendai River from Satsuma town up to and beyond the first major dam. Japanese Wagtails were common and surprisingly a new bird for the Kyushu trip. There were about 40 Barn Swallows along the river in Satsuma town - enough to make a summer? Plus I heard my first Great Spotted Woodpecker of the trip. Another good bird along the Sendai was Crested Kingfisher and I'm bound to include an awful record shot as it was a photograph tick for me.

The drive to Miike is easy apart from the 40 km/p/h speed limits across much of the Ebino Plateau and a number of (surely) tourists willing to stick to them creating long tailbacks. It must drive the locals nuts; it would me anyway.

I'd already run into Chris Cook guiding a couple of Brit birders two or three times at Arasaki and they arrived at Miike just moments before me. Chris had already located this Japanese Woodpecker boring a deep hole into the underside of a branch with a quiet intensity that made it seem oblivious to our presence.

Japanese Woodpecker.

They then headed down to the lakeside to look for Baikal Teal while I stayed in the car park to look for the Forest Wagtail. I couldn't face another duck dip. In any case the Wagtail was the reason I'd come after all and the car park is the place to look. In fact this small car park is without doubt the best place in Japan for this species, though why they come here every winter is a mystery to me. Apparently there are two this winter.

After watching the Wagtail to my heart's content I drifted down to the lake to see how the others were doing. I hadn't bothered getting my scope from the car and expected to just roll up and enjoy great views of Baikal through theirs. But no, it wasn't only me having a bad duck day, there were no Baikal to be seen.

Chris and co were staying at Miike that night but I was headed back to Arasaki; I definitely wasn't going to stop off and spend the night in Satsuma to make it third time unlucky with the Scaly-sided the following morning.

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