Friday 29 May 2020

Swinhoe's Robins, thrushes and flycatchers

I must have seen enough robins in the last four weeks to keep me going for quite a while. Well not really, it isn't possible to see too many robins, they're such great birds. However it is fair to say I saw far more Swinhoe's on Tsushima than my life total prior to this trip. Siberian Blue Robin was also common but I only saw two Japanese Robins, these away from headlands and one of them as little more than a shape in the pre-dawn light on the forest floor. This was turned round in Hokkaido later in the month where Japanese was a trip-over bird (I always thought it was only the Izu race that was easy to see), and the density of singing birds was far greater than anything I've experienced in honshu. Or even elsewhere in Hokkaido actually. Siberian Blue, common as it was, was again runner up in the numbers game in that particular area. That I haven't got any photos of Japanese is partly down to hardly daring to move when birds hopped out onto the track when walking or they were through the car windscreen when driving. One Sibe Blue was too close to focus the camera on(!), while several robins, of both species, were too close to use the bins. Unbelievable.

But back to the Swinhoe's on Tsushima. I've spent so much time in the past trying to glimpse birds that have been singing right in front me. Not the birds in thick vegetation that I already know is a total waste of time but birds in a scrap of habitat, birds that you'd think were impossible to miss, yet rarely seeing so much as a flash of disappearing tail. On Tsushima I was seeing as many as three or four different birds in a day. Unheard of! The novelty of hearing three or four singing simultaneously soon wore off as this was the case at several random places we happened to stop the car. How many must there have been?

The first of three different birds photographed on the same day. This one was a little further down the hillside but it stuck its rufous tail in the sun for me.

Some birds were right by the roadside or in this case the footpath, not even bothering about cover.

Others simply sat there in the open waiting to be photographed.

These two shots are of one of the Hokkaido birds, they looked better out in the open sunshine rather than the darker setting of the Tsushima forests.

And thrushes...
The highlight was Grey-backed, one in the north and the other in the south. This used to be a bogey bird of mine. It's a scarce but regular spring bird on Mishima where, for years I contrived to miss every one. That included unmissables such as one in a single small tree that everyone in the group got on to instantly, everyone bar me. It included a male that sang from the same prominent perch in the same tree morning after morning, evening after evening, for almost a week. Without exception just before I got there or momentarily after I'd left.

Once a bogey has been bagged, however, it's rarely hard to see again. The first Grey-backed on Tsushima was under a row of straggly bushes at the edge of the rivermouth car park at Sago. I wasn't looking for birds at that moment and was so shocked I didn't even think of my camera back in the car. Finally it flew across the road into more difficult steep, cliff-steep, terrain.

Grey-backed Thrush

The southern bird was less approachable...

...and the other.

Amami Thrush (upper), taken a couple of weeks earlier, and White's (lower) on Tsushima. Pity the White's was partly obscured but still no confusing them.

Flycatchers were also very common, mainly Asian Brown, Blue and White and Narcissus, but there were also Streaked, Dark-sided and that spring speciality Yellow-rumped. There are good years and bad for them but after my birding mate saw a female it took a nervous couple of days before the trip claw-back.

When I heard this bird it was right by the roadside but it was already moving up hill through the trees before I got on to it to confirm it wasn't 'just' another Narcissus.

There were other good birds around, one of two singing Pale-legged Leaf Warblers came up a lightly wooded slope and paused to sing in the bush next to us before continuing on its way. The other was in thicker woodland along with so many Sakhalin Leaf it didn't offer any hope of being seen. Seen and identified that is. We failed to conect with a Tree Pipit, our biggest miss of the trip but did also score with a Hoopoe. This had been a running joke throughout the trip that we had to check every playing field or area of open grass for Hoopoe and come up with a reason why they weren't there. Too be honest I always see Hoopoe's much earlier and wasn't seriously expecting one this late so a bird on the cliffs and cliff path was quite a surprise.

So much for checking parks, playing fields and grassy carparks.

Tsushima trip list
Chinese Bamboo Partridge
Ring-necked Pheasant
Tundra Bean Goose
Mandarin Duck
Falcated Duck
Eurasian Wigeon
Eastern Spot-billed Duck
Eurasian Teal
Pacific Diver
Streaked Shearwater
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Striated Heron
Chinese Pond Heron
Eastern Cattle Egret
Grey Heron
Great White Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Great Cormorant
Temminck's Cormorant
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Black Kite
Japanese Sparrowhawk
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Grey-faced Buzzard
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Moorhen
Common Coot
Black-winged Stilt
Pacific Golden PLover
Little Ringed Plover
Solitary Snipe
Latham's Snipe
swintail Snipe (almost certainly Swinhoe's on combination of features)
Little Whimbrel
Far Eastern Curlew
Common Greenshank
Wood Sandpiper
Grey-tailed Tattler
Terek Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
calidris sp (a small species in flight)
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Oriental Pratincole
Black-tailed Gull
large white-headed sp (probably Taimyr)
Aleutian Tern
murrelet sp (very probably Japanese)
Feral Rock Pigeon
Oriental Turtle Dove
Northern Hawk Cuckoo
Oriental Cuckoo
Northern Boobook
Pacific Swift
Common Kingfisher
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
Ashy Minivet
Brown Shrike
Black-naped Oriole
Eurasian Jay
Daurian Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Large-billed Crow
Japanese Waxwing
Eastern Great Tit
Varied Tit
Chinese Penduline Tit
Sand Martin
Barn Swallow
Asian House Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
Zitting Cisticola
Light-vented Bulbul
Brown-eared Bulbul
Asian Stubtail
Japanese Bush Warbler
Korean Bush Warbler
Oriental Reed Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Japanese/Kamchatka Leaf Warbler
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
Sakhalin Leaf Warbler
Eastern Crowned Warbler
Warbling White-eye
Eurasian Wren
Chestnut-cheeked Starling
White-cheeked Starling
Siberian Thrush
White's Thrush
Grey-backed Thrush
Japanese Thrush
Pale Thrush
Brown-headed Thrush
Dusky Thrush
Japanese Robin
Siberian Blue Robin
Red-flanked Bluetail
Swinhoe's Robin
Stejneger's Stonechat
Blue Rock Thrush
Grey-streaked Flycatcher
Dark-sided Flycatcher
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
Narcissus Flycatcher
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Blue and White Flycatcher
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Japanese Wagtail
Richard's Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Buff-bellied Pipit
Oriental Greenfinch
Eurasian Siskin
Japanese grosbeak
Meadow Bunting
Tristram's Bunting
Little Bunting
Yellow-browed Bunting
Rustic Bunting
Yellow-throated Bunting
Chestnut Bunting
Japanese Yellow Bunting
Black-faced Bunting
139 species in 11 days

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