Friday 6 May 2016

Lots of thrushes

I had hoped to get back to Hegurajima this week but it wasn't to be. I set off on the off-chance the sea might calm sufficiently to allow the ferry to sail. As I continued to check the marine forecast while heading north it became clear this wasn't going to happen so I didn't waste my time driving up the Noto Peninsular to Wajima.

I had left home the afternoon before yesterday allowing time for a quick stop in the hills on the way up, even if the ferry had been running. No sign of Copper Pheasant, display has tailed off somewhat but this showy Japanese Woodpecker was nice.

Ashy Minivets were frequently overhead but none came within decent camera range and this pair was the best I could manage.

I was disappointed I wasn't going to make it out to the island, the weather looked promising but it meant when I arrived in Kanazawa there was time to grab a little sleep before dawn. When I did clamber out of the van I had this snowy reminder that some parts of Japan get real winter, unlike Kansai.

To be honest the winter scene was the second surprise, the first was before I even clambered out of the van. There were Eyebrowed, Brown-headed and Dusky Thrushes running round on the short grass next to where I'd parked. Dusky I could understand but the other two are often no more than a fleeting tail breaking from the undergrowth before vanishing through the canopy. Unfortunately in the early light they required a very high ISO to capture them so the results aren't as impressive as they might have been.

Almost a nice grouping: male and female Eyebrowed Thrushes but the Blue and White Flycatcher (tail just visible behind a branch on the left) chose to move before I could get the shot.

A stunning male, they don't even look this good in field guides.

Brown-headed Thrush.

There were plenty of other migrants around, the place was teaming with phylloscs, Eastern Crowned were everywhere, very vocal, very active, and Sakhalin Leaf were fairly numerous too. A couple of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings became half a dozen as the morning wore on and an Ashy Minivet heard only once probably passed straight through. Two or three Japanese Robins were singing and there was at least one Siberian Rubythroat as well. Several Narcissus, Asian Brown and Blue and White Flycatchers were dotted around the park but I came across just a single Japanese Yellow Bunting. Also represented by a lone individual, Oriental and Northern Hawk Cuckoo sand intermittently throughout the day but I only saw the former. Another invisible songster was an Oriental Reed Warbler, quite what it was doing in woodland I don't know but there were several in more expected habitat nearby. Just as good for me was an Azure-winged Magpie so I'll mention it with the migrants. I don't see them in Kansai and this is the closest to home I can find them, great looking birds.   

Chestnut-cheeked Starlings is a passage migrant in my region.

My drive up to Hegurajima is my only chance to see Azure-winged Magpie, if I have the time to stop and look.

Asian Brown Flycatcher.

Because the park had a good selection of migrants it was easy to the feel things were on the move and something could really good turn up. Unfortunately it didn't and by day's end I was wishing I'd been on Hegura. The marine forecast didn't look any better for today so I stayed overnight but this morning seemed much quieter. In fact the same birds were present but less vocal, the periods of drizzle perhaps dampened the birds' exuberance, making everything seem harder work. I'd walked for 11 hours yesterday but there was no way I could muster the enthusiasm to repeat that even if I'd had the time. Someone saw a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher early in the morning in an area I'd spent a lot of time yesterday so that may have been newly arrived.

Female Meadow Bunting caught in a rare sunny moment.

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