Friday 4 November 2016

Wood Warbler

I wanted to go up to Saitama prefecture last Wednesday night to try to catch up with a Wood Warbler that has turned up in a city park in Satte. Wood Warbler is still a major rarity in Japan, and one that ordinarily you'd only expect to occur out on one of the Japan Sea islands. So a bird that's been found in a city park in a landlocked prefecture close to Tokyo is obviously going to be popular. Think of those word association puzzles; what's the next word in the sequence "rarity, landlocked, city park..." for my money it's "overwinter". Could Wood Warbler be the new Chiffchaff?

I couldn't get any info on whether the bird had been present on Wednesday, only that it had still been there on the Tuesday. Plus as I didn't get off work till late that evening and it was almost 10pm by the time I got home so I didn't really feel like the long drive up to Tokyo. In short I wimped-out, got my head down for an hour and went to Mie prefecture instead. The Tsu / Matsusaka area was really good, as usual, but by Thursday evening I was hearing from people on the Kantori mailing list that the Wood Warbler was still there. Agony.

When I phoned my wife that evening she was out having a good time with some friends and I didn't want to spoil the mood by telling her I was thinking of an overnight drive to the Kanto region after only getting an hour's sleep the night before. Non-birder partners just don't get it. I told her I would spend the night in Mie, managed another hour sleep in the car then started the drive up to Saitama. Leaving from Mie meant I'd already cut more than 100km off the journey and it was down to a manageable 480.

I arrived bright an early and two people were already watching the bird. It couldn't have been easier. The weather was beautiful, calm and sunny, and the bird was performing really well in the leafless cherry trees. From our vantage point on the embankment the bird was often in shade down at eye level in the trees at the foot of the slope, at other times higher the the bright sun. Though I got many more images later in the morning after crowds of photographers arrived, none were quite as good as the early morning shots. The only later shot I've used is heavily cropped showing the tertials and primaries.

That's one more on my Japan list!

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