Wednesday 16 May 2018

Spring mix

I heard a singing Lesser Cuckoo from my bedroom a couple of nights ago, a sure sign that local summer visitors are arriving. It isn't unusual to hear their nocturnal song flight as they circle over the city at this time of year and it's a great reminder that we're never far from birds, even the ones we don't see so often.

Another recent arrival in full voice is Oriental Reed Warbler. I photographed this one at the weekend because I wanted to catch it with some of its crown feathers raised which created the effect of distinct lateral crown stripes, something Oriental Reed doesn't share with some of the other acros in the region... not that it's ever likely to be confused with them.

A resident bird in the area that I almost never try to photograph is Oriental (Grey-capped) Greenfinch. It's so common that it can be a minor irritation at times. How often do we catch a flash of something flying through the trees when walking in woodland... all the time right? I always thing that if something perches visibly it's 99% certain to be a Brown-eared Bulbul but fortunately as it's so distinctive that there's no need to focus on it to check. Oriental Greenfinch on the other hand is rather different, it also frequently catches the eye, in a wide range of habitats, but unlike the very distinctive Bulbul which doesn't demand further attention, the Greenfinch does. Just in case. In fact it can be more than a little irritating at migration hot-spots. So finally I am posting a picture of Oriental Greenfinch, but only because it's a particularly striking male.

Next a passage bird, Grey-tailed Tattler. There are huge numbers passing through at the moment and on the Pacific coast of Japan May is the time to look for Wandering Tattler. I know there are spots in Tokyo Bay that get them every year and Aichi seems to get quite a few records too. Who knows how many turn up at unremarkable and unwatched spots elsewhere along the coast. So far I haven't found one in Ise bay, though not for lack of trying.

So that's Resident, summer visitor and passage migrant in the spring mix. As for lingering winter visitors the only thing I could categorically say is a winter at the weekend was Black-headed Gull, there are still a handful around. There were a few ducks still present, notably five Falcated, but there are always a number of Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Greater Scaup that don't make the journey back to the breeding grounds. This was the first time I've been birding this spring when I didn't record a single Dusky Thrush which is normally the greatest winter lingerer in this area as far as passerines are concerned.

A few other birds from the weekend included the following...

Nice breeding condition bare parts on this Great White Egret. This a local modesta, the wintering alba appear to have cleared out. 

Two Grey-headed Lapwings on the beach were totally out of the blue. I never expect to see them on the beach like this, especially at this time of year.

The main reason this time of year is even more surprising than usual.

This is where I'd expect to see them.


  1. Same birds here this spring...............except for the Lapwings.

    1. I take the Lapwings for granted living in Kansai but they can be tricky elsewhere and I guess they'd be very exceptional in Hokkaido.