Sunday 22 May 2016

Brown Dipper

After our success with Copper Pheasant a couple of days earlier I took visiting Aussie birder Jack Krohn owling in Tottori. This was ultimately disappointing with zero birds seen. We'd been assured there was a roosting Japanese Scops Owl in a particular nest box and that it occasionally poked it's head up to look around. We waited till light was failing and other Japanese Scops were already starting to call before we were forced to admit must've spent hours staring at an empty box! Ah well.

The forest was good and I was surprised not to hear any Eastern Crowned Warblers but there were plenty of other forest species. Invisible Ruddy Kingfishers moved back and forth up the steep valley, Ashy Minivets passed unseen above the canopy and Oriental Cuckoo was ever distant. But not everything was only heard, a few things showed themselves. A couple of White-bellied Green Pigeons briefly commuting between hill tops, Japanese and White-backed Woodpeckers cooperated at times and Blue and White as well as Narcissus Flycatchers put in appearances. Wrens were perhaps the commonest bird around with Great Tits a close second.

A female White-backed Woodpecker.
Wrens were very common.
I got up at 3am the following morning and there was a lot of activity around the cabins, three or four Japanese Scops, a single Oriental Scops and three Brown Hawk Owls were all calling nearby but none showed themselves. The same was true of three Northern Hawk Cuckoos and the only Lesser Cuckoo of the trip repeatedly overflying.

On the drive back to Kyoto we stopped off at the Oriental White Stork re-introduction programme centre and saw a couple of adults bill clapping while hanging in the air high overhead and another pair with a well grown chick on a post-top nest on the fields in front of the centre. One of the adults kept leaping into the air with exaggerated wing flaps, rather comically I thought, as if tethered to the nest as a tourist attraction. Jack on the other hand thought it was merely attempting to behave like a young bird in order to give the chick a lesson on how to strengthening its wings.

The following day we headed into Kyoto forest and had flight views of Grey Nightjar at dawn so nocturnals weren't a total wash-out. Later along one of the rivers a Brown Dipper was so intent on killing and eating a crab that it wasn't concerned by our presence.

Later in the morning we crossed Lake Biwa and made our way to Ibukiyama where we had our only Common Cuckoo of the trip. There were about 20 photographers lined up waiting for Golden Eagle to put in an appearance but unfortunately none did in the time we had available. It was really pleasant sitting in the sun at the mountain top even though it was too hazy to see any snowy peaks further north. On the way back down from the peak in Shiga to the base in Gifu we ran into a Grey-faced Buzzard circling over the trees before drifting off behind a ridge. Then it was back to Kyoto for a nap before an early start for the next target; Pleske's Warbler.

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