Thursday 10 March 2016

A day-and-a-bit in Mie

There are always plenty of birds to see in the Tsu / Matsusaka area thanks to the range of habitats. Though I didn't see anything that might be considered rare or even uncommon in Kansai this week I  did have a great time after not having been there since mid-November. And don't you love it when an impromptu search for something difficult to see pays off. In this case I decided to creep along a 400-metre stretch of roadside ditch to look for an Eastern Water Rail...


Most of the other birds I found, or I should say photographed, are the impossible to miss species. Still, getting half decent shots without putting any time into it is always a matter of luck.

First bird of the morning, immature male Blue Rock Thrush. That light reflecting off the water is from harbour lights not sun, it's amazing what a decent camera and lens can achieve pre-dawn.

Saunder's Gulls weren't being cooperative, they often cruise over the mud at the roadside but today they were way out in the middle of the river. Now that the adults have full breeding hoods they're playing harder to get. It must reflect Saunder's more southerly breeding range that all the adults (about 10) were in full breeding plumage whereas not one single Black-headed Gull (about 2000) was even close.

When I was last here in mid-November I was surprised there were no Common Gulls but there were many today. This first winter is at the light end of the colour spectrum; some birds are hanging on to a lot of juvenile plumage, particularly on the underparts.

Greater Scaup is prbably the most numerous bird around, there must be tens of thousands in the bay. There are usually a few in harbours.

Gadwall are really common here too but it's difficult to get close enough to appreciate their subtle beauty. This pair was on a drainage canal but they were very nervous and flew off onto a larger body of water before I could get any closer than this.

Chestnut-eared Buntings are quite common, far more so than around Kyoto.

Common Reed Buntings.

Eastern Buzzard, easy to see but another species which can be difficult to photograph well. They have clear views on boundaries. 

First winter Mongolian Gull. 

This leucistic Vega has been around for several winters.

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