Thursday 22 December 2016


Though Redpolls aren't rare in Japan their occurrence definitely has a northern bias. I've only once seen a small wintering flock in the western part of the country so I was keen to try for a party of eight in Kanazawa. I like to think of Kanazawa as an outpost of northern Japan within easy driving distance of Kyoto. I say easy driving distance even though some might think a 260km drive to see Redpolls a tad excessive, but you have to bear in mind there's such good general birding to be had in the Kanazawa area that a day or two up there is never boring.

My good friends in the met office informed me Tuesday would be mainly sunny with the odd shower but that the weather would go steeply downhill there after; a misearable amount of rain on the Wednesday followed by a depressing quantity the following day. Why do I even bother to check what cocktail of conditions they pull from the lucky-dip forecast hat? In the event Tuesday was so overcast (with frequent showers) that I was unsure whether the sun rose at all that day. The next day was blue skies all the way. I didn't wait around to find out how inaccurate the third day prediction might have been.

So if the following images all look as though they were taken pre-sunrise on very high ISO, they may as well have been.

I found seven Redpolls without difficulty. This midday image shows how dull the conditions were, the following shots are all significantly lightened.

Tundra Swan in the early afternoon glow.

Slavionian Grebe: a bird that I rarely see in Kansai. I was due a spot of luck on this trip and finding this to be the closest bird on a huge lake must have been it.

On any other day that flock of Black-necked Grebes in the background would have been closer than a just identifiable Slavonian in the distance.

One of several Brown Dippers along the river, this bird was frequently singing under a major road bridge. This shot really was taken at dawn, the trick being it was dawn the following (supposedly rainy) morning. 


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