But the best action was when I stopped at some lotus ponds on the way back home and photographed a Little Egret catching tiny fish.
I visited Kabashima today and thought there might be quite a few interesting birds arriving before the bad weather hit during the afternoon, but it was very quiet for migrants with only Brown Shrike and Chestnut Bunting around (neither of which were really approachable!). The residents were very active and singing away, but I was a bit disappointed as today was one of my few completely free days off during the migration season. Oh well, maybe Saturday or Monday will provide something special that poses nicely for the camera!
It is always a sign of summer coming when the Oriental Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) start setting up their territories and making the normally quiet reed banks come alive with their noisy, grating song. While they will sing at any time of day, the dawn chorus is very special. At Oe reclaimed land area there are dozens of pairs and they create quite a ruckus especially when other birds such as Zitting Cisticola (I always preferred “Fantail Warbler” myself as the common name for Cisticola juncidis), Black-browed Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps) and Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis) join in. This morning’s dawn was lovely and the first rays of sunlight lit up the birds nicely before the fog closed in. You can also enjoy a video of the song of the Oriental Reed Warbler here.
Summer breeders have mostly all arrived at the mountain pond on Mt Unzen, and the resident species are also busy nesting. The main draw-cards of Narcissus Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Flycatcher and Japanese Thrush are all there now. Meanwhile, down at Oe reclaimed land area dozens of Oriental Reed Warbler are busy establishing territories while Pacific Swift hunt the skies overhead.
As usual the forecasters got it wrong…..rain during the night clearing by dawn with sunny skies from noon…….alas, rain, rain and more rain. In fact, it’s still raining now at 19:45! Anyway, I left home at 03:30 in order to catch the dawn and see if any migrants were around at Kabashima. The conditions meant I could have left at 07:00 and had plenty of time to catch the morning’s action but it’s nice to know I didn’t miss anything by arriving late. There were many birds calling, but all were skulking until mid-morning when a few began to show. Of interest were Siberian Blue Robin (glimpsed in the undergrowth), Blue-and-white Flycatcher and Tristram’s Bunting. I decided to also check some of the fields around Nomo town (the main township in the area) and turned up a small flock of Chestnut-cheeked Starling as well as a Little Bunting (rare in Japan). A nice Red-throated Pipit in breeding plumage was active in the fields but very flighty. Finally, as I was about to leave the area, a male Red-bellied Rock Thrush appeared beside my car with a centipede! It quickly disarmed the centipede by plying off its stingers before toying with it a bit more prior to flying off.
This morning I had a little bit of time and the weather was great, so I went to nearby Hyotanike lake to see what was happening. This lake has very nice scenery but is usually a bit low on bird life other than the resident Mallard and some introduced ducks. But the Barn Swallows love drinking and bathing in the lake, so this is another good place to try to photograph them in flight. A female Common Kingfisher was also briefly present.
Yesterday afternoon was very wet and while photographing Grey-headed Lapwing at Koga, Fukuoka, we observed dozens of Barn Swallow flying among the flowering clover and other seeding grasses. At first I was mystified by this behaviour, but photographs confirmed our suspicions that the birds were feeding on insects. The heavy rain must have prevented insects from flying around and thus be taken in mid-air as per usual Barn Swallow hunting techniques, so the birds had to adapt to snatching prey from the tops of vegetation. It was a great spectacle to watch, and I managed a nice sequence of shots with the 1D-X in the dull conditions.
Yesterday and today I ran a birding tour in the Fukuoka area for two guests from the UK. Conditions were quite challenging, however we saw a total of 66 species and heard an additional 5. Highlights included Black-faced Spoonbill, Far Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Japanese Cormorant, Grey-headed Lapwing, Asian Stubtail, Narcissus Flycatcher, Japanese Thrush, Red-flanked Bluetail, Daurian Redstart, Grey Bunting, Chestnut-eared Bunting, and Rustic Bunting. We also enjoyed watching dozens of Barn Swallow feeding among clover flowers and seeding vegetation in the pouring rain – the subject of a separate post. Below is the complete species list together with a few photos.
Asian Spot-billed Duck
Eastern Cattle Egret
Little Ringed Plover
Far Eastern Curlew
Oriental Turtle Dove
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
Eastern Great Tit
Japanese Bush Warbler
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Eastern Crowned Warbler