Saturday 7 January 2017

Brown Booby, Taimyr Gull, Daurian Jackdaw and a few other birds in Arasaki

After leaving Isahaya I drove round the bay overnight. My satnav insisted I take the Shimabara - Kumamoto ferry even though the last sailing was at 5:30pm; this is so irritating. It doesn't matter how often I explain to her something can't be done she just won't budge. Another example, my final evening I wanted to drive from Miyazaki to Kyoto she stubbornly held that the only way to go was ferry to Shikoku, drive across the island and use the Nishi Akashi bridge; again if I could have connected with a ferry this may have been the quickest way but there simply wasn't a ferry to catch.

I thought about dropping in to the reclaimed land at Tamana but checking the tide tables I decided to give it a miss and head straight to Yatsushiro. High tide was due at 10:30 so I thought this would provide an excellent opportunity to watch the birds getting pushed closer while the light wasn't too strong from directly across the estuary. As it things transpired there was an exceptionally high tide that morning and by just after 8am the mudflats were drowned and the birds gone. Before everything flew off there were good numbers of waders, plenty of Saunder's Gulls of course but the highlight was a Caspian Tern that dropped in very briefly. I saw three Caspians here last winter but this one was closer and still with an almost full black cap. Unfortunately I didn't get any shots of it due to photographer incompetence; he's gone just as soon as I can find a replacement.

The next stop was Arasaki with a plan to cover the whole area and the luxury of three nights in a hotel while doing it.

One of the highlights was a Brown Booby in Akune harbour. Though they are to be expected along this coast in winter this is the first time I've seen one here, it was great to watch it plunge diving in the harbour.

One of only two adult Daurian Jackdaws I saw at Arasaki and only three on the whole trip compared to 30-40 first winters.

Another bird in the same flock has a very prominent neck patch recalling Eastern Jackdaw. Pity it's dark-eyed!

First winter Daurian Jackdaw.

First winter Daurian Jackdaw.

A bird with much greyer underparts (more like juvenile plumage but presumably first winter unless some second winters don't look full adult?) and again with a prominent pale collar.

I only saw two first winter Taimyr Gulls in the area, this one lingered just long enough to get a few images.

These images are slightly lightened to show more plumage detail so the actual colour fidelity shouldn't be relied on. The primary window was darker when the wing was spread compared to the birds I typically see in Kansai. I have no idea whether it's possible to separate Taimyr and Heuglin's at this age or whether the darker window would have any significance. It's a pity this gull didn't hang around, I'd have loved to get a better view than just the couple of fly-bys before it wandered off from the river mouth.

Early each morning there were 13 Eurasian and three Black-faced Spoonbills in the same spot before they dispersed for the day.

Long-billed Plovers were easy to find inland along rivers but on the Arasaki fields, as you'd expect, Little Ringed was the only plover present. Eight was the biggest group I saw but they were dotted around the large expanse of fields.

Common Snipe.

Green Sandpiper.

Bull-headed Shrike.


  1. Looks like a great winter birding area............

  2. It's a fantastic area Stuart but there are so many good areas in Kyushu!