This morning I visited Daijyugarami. It was a bit disappointing as the numbers and variety of birds was very very low for this time of year, and there were no real rarities for the location. Nevertheless, the few birds that were there were mostly in their colourful breeding plumage, which always makes for nice images. Both Bar-tailed and Eastern Black-tailed Godwit were there but unfortunately I couldn’t come away with decent photos of them. Below are Black-faced Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Common Redshank, Dunlin, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Skylark, Far Eastern Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Mongolian Plover, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper.
Over the past week it appears that three subspecies of Brown Shrike have passed through the Kabashima area: the nominate Lanius cristatus cristatus, L. c. lucionensis, and L. c. superciliosus (Japanese Shrike).
Another interesting find on Monday was a Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) that was alone and very close to the shore of the Nomozaki peninsula. It seemed very tired and possibly a bit weak from hunger, as it just floated around in the current only a few meters off a rocky coastline and didn’t seem to mind the presence of two birders (myself and a Japanese birder, Mr. Miyazaki, who initially spotted it and was filming it with a camcorder). After a while it decided enough was enough and started swimming out to deeper water, even flapping a few times to get offshore more quickly although it never actually took flight while I was there.
On Monday morning at Kabashima there was a lot of migrant activity, although not many of the birds were showing well or for long durations. In particular there were a lot of leaf warblers high in the trees, most of which seemed to be “Arctic Warbler” type birds. The Arctic Warbler complex was recently split into Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis), Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus examinandus) and Japanese Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus xanthodryas). So, after taking some shots, I recorded the songs and calls in the hope of confirming which of the species the birds were. With the help of Xeno-Canto users I was able to positively identify this bird as a Kamchatka Leaf Warber. The song and call can be heard here on the Xeno-Canto website.
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.