Thursday 5 January 2017

Isahaya: missed the Black Storks again!

I had intended to post daily during the trip around Kyushu but for one reason or another I never got round to it an I'm now back in Kyoto but most of this post was written at Isahaya.

Day two of my Kyshu trip dawned cold, the fields were white with frost and standing water was iced over. Once the sun got going it was surprisingly warm, plenty of flying insects and even houseflies were buzzing around. But by afternoon Mt Unzen still look as if it were dusted white on the upper slopes.

That steep central cone belching white clouds doesn't seem to be present on photographs I've seen. 

The main aim of going to Isahaya was to look for the Black Storks. I saw them at my first attempt two years ago but failed when I tried again last winter... add this winter to the blank column. I'm told local birders see them maybe once in five visits and if you spent several days in the area you'd have no problem catching up with them, which suggests they move round a large area.

Two years ago I not only saw the two Storks but found a Booted Warbler, this time the warbler wasn't as spectacularly rare, a Dusky. Almost certainly two in fact as I was sure I could hear two calls coming from the same direction, close to each other but consistently a few metres apart. However I only actually saw one bird. I since learnt some other birders have heard Dusky calling at Isahaya this winter. But I'm getting ahead of myself, that was in the evening.

I underestimated how bright the sun was and the resulting photographs were disappointing. Most shots of these two largely white birds, Osprey and a pale Eastern Buzzard, suffered terribly and I've had to adjust the images in order to salvage some of the better ones.

If I were a fish and saw that expression, I'd spend the rest of my life hugging the bottom.

Most of the length of the toes don't even touch the post, the claws are so long.

Pale birds aren't uncommon but this one is paler than many.

It's a beautiful bird.

I always tell myself not to take anymore photographs of Northern Lapwing. A waste of breath, I just can't resist whenever I come across birds close to the road, which is very often in Kyushu.

As I already said, I had originally intended to post each day while travelling round the island but only did so on the first day. I arrived home yesterday and at least now having the luxury of hindsight I can swap images of some birds from a later date to a more appropriate post. One such instance is Russet Sparrow which proved a very common bird throughout the trip, these images are of birds at Yatsushiro. Russet Sparrow isn't uncommon in winter and there were many at Isahaya, but I felt over the whole trip I was seeing more and larger flocks this year.

I spent quite a bit of time checking through wagtails and pipits, as I love to do whenever possible, and I'll combine the birds seen at Isahaya (which included four Eastern Yellow Wagtails) with more interesting examples from Arasaki.

Russet Sparrows were common throughout the trip; unkempt corners of fields, clumps of trees and overhead wires at village edges invariably held flocks.

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