Tuesday 11 December 2018

Still no gulls in Mie

I'd hoped to get across to Tsu city more often from early November to check out the Taimyr Gull passage but there were always other things getting in the way. I had already seen a few incidental Taimyr on October 20th but my two gulling focused trips (Nov 11th and 30th) were disappointing, the latter date might already be late for large numbers of Taimyr and Vega don't arrive in significant numbers until around now (the second week of December) but November 11th should have been more productive.

Coming back to the 30th, the primary early morning aim was to get decent shots of the returning Canvasback. This was a great success with the bird closer than I've ever seen, just over the embankment from the car park in the early half light. As the sun came up behind me the conditions were excellent and brought out the best in this and the accompanying Common Pochards, I was really quite pleased with some of the images I managed to get... some eye-catching shots of a small white feather drifting above the ducks' heads and the Canvasbacks surprise and reaction. Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the whole file; no doubt with time the quality of the images will get even better in my memory. So, while on the one hand I think another early morning visit is in order if I want to improve on last winter's images of the duck, the fact is I don't really have any great enthusiasm for it. The chances of getting equally good views are probably slim to zero even assuming the bird is actually on the river rather than with the huge rafts of ducks out at sea. I just don't have the photographers' patience I'm afraid.

Content with my photographic haul I checked whether there were any gulls about, there weren't, though I hadn't expected there to be any to be honest. The early hour along with the high tide pretty much guaranteed they'd all be off somewhere else feeding. Therefore I headed south with the intention of returning in the afternoon.

It was just as well I did head south because by far the most unexpected bird of the day was an immature Temminck's Cormorant in Matsusaka. I've seen no more than a handful each of Temminck's and Pelagic Cormorant's along this coast and they've always been on tetrapods facing the open sea. This bird was right at a river mouth issuing into a shallow bay. It's the closest I've come to an 'inland' Temminck's.

There were other photogenic birds around but nothing to really get the pulse racing.


Northern Lapwing

Common Sandpiper

Meadow Bunting

Back up to the gull beach in the afternoon. There were around 50 large gulls in two loafing clumps compared to the hundreds there will be later in winter; Taimyr c10, Vega c40, Slaty-backed 2. Disappointing if not entirely unexpected, however, definitely unexpected was a passing finless porpoise! They are fairly common in these waters but I rarely see them because most of the good birding areas are next to shallow water and by the time reach places with a steeper fall-off the all too frequent stronger afternoon wind puts too much chop on the water.

Not so easy to spot even on calm days.

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