Monday, December 17, 2007

Dip Dippy Dip Dip Dip...

...that's what it has been like for the last couple of weekends. For those of you who are familiar with the use of this term to describe perhaps "a dip in the ocean", or a "dip in the land", for us aves-obsessives it describes the horrible situation whereby one drives/travels a long distance and waits for a long, long time to see a rare or new bird only to come away from the search empty-handed and totally deflated. That my diligent readers, is exactly what happened to me and my co-obsessives on the previous two Saturdays. However, there was some silver lining the rather dark cloud that hung over my head, and I will tell you this later on.
(Rustic Bunting)
Dip Day 1: a 2am start on Saturday morning. Kazu and his friends Sakamoto-san and Toyo-san picked me up at my local train station to head off to Yokkuchi of Mie prefecture, near the city of Nagoya. The purpose of this trip was "Desert" Lesser Whitethroat...a mega for Japan. Although a regular migrant in Ireland, the "Desert" form from central Asia is extremely rare in Europe so I was keen to see this bird. Having arrived an hour before sunrise, we got a little sleep in the car and then headed to the spot where the bird was reported to be. To cut a long story short, after 10 hours, yes folks, that's 10 HOURS of waiting in the cold, and it was cold, yet thankfully dry conditions, we left empty-handed and somewhat deflated. The day was not all wasted as we were treated to some spectacular views of Long-tailed Rosefinch, Wryneck, Japanese Grosbeak, Hawfinch, Yellow-throated Bunting, Rustic Bunting, Black-faced Bunting, Daurian Redstart, Goshawk, Buzzard, and Black Kite. Neil had seen the bird on Thursday and apart from it being seen for one minute on Friday, it hasn't been seen since.
(Bull-Headed Shrike)
Pseudo Success Day 1: The following day Neil and I met up with Richard and Kaori who were down from Tokyo for the weekend. In fact, both Richard and Kaori had dropped into the Lesser Whitey site prior to dipping on the Golden Eagles at Ibuki-yama later that day. Our target bird for the day was a male Hen Harrier seen the previous couple of weeks coming to roost at a large reedbed in the area of Biwa-ko. The weather was spectacular with dark clothes, blue skies, snow-topped mountains and a biting wind. Baltic conditions really. We drove around the east side of Biwa-ko (Japan's largest lake) for the day seeing a spectacular array of birds, including Stellar's Sea Eagle, Goshawk, osprey, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Bean Goose, Eurasian Spoonbill, thousands of duck including Smew, Baikal teal and Falcated Duck and a self-found American Wigeon. Watching up to 50 Black-eared Kites feeding behind a tractor ploughing a field was a bizarre and an amazing sight. The highlight of the day, for me at least, was watching the Eastern Marsh Harriers coming into roost at the reedbed. We estimated up to 20 individuals were flying around, lazily gliding and floating around waiting to go to roost. It was a wonderful experience watching these beautiful birds come to roost with a stunning sunset creeping below the top of the rushes. Although we didn't see the male Hen Harrier, we did see up to 3 female Hen Harriers, which was nice and number 338 for Japan, thank you!
(Baikal Teal)
Dip Day 2: The Saturday just gone was another day out with Kazu and Harendra (aka Divdude007 on Flikr), and later joined by Sakamoto-san, to Saidaiji to look for a flock(!) of 5 short-toed larks (lifer) and short-eared owl (JP tick). We got there by 7am and started the search for a tick. We were blown away straight away by the sight of a Goshawk feeding out in the open on what appeared to be a wigeon. When we tried to creep closer for a photograph, the bird just lazily took off and away over the ridge..damn! The rest of the day was reasonably okay with some amazing views of Wryneck, Pacific Golden Plover, Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck, Smew, Rustic Bunting, Common Snipe, and Sparrowhawk. We also found a probable Baer's Pochard x Eurasian Pochard hybrid which was nice...pity it was not a pure one, as I've only seen one individual previously. Despite the wait and the perseverance of looking through the many hundreds of Skylark, and scanning the low-lying land for the silent flight of the short-eared owl, we once again dipped on the target birds. What made the day even worse was that we heard that Japan's 3rd(?) Redhead was found there 3 days previously...and we didn't see that either.
(Japanese Skylark)

(Pacific Golden Plover) Christmas is coming so I hope Santa Claus will deliver the goods for me this weekend...

Carmo's Diet: This week, I have mostly been eating breakfast bars

Carmo's Birds: see above...338 for Japan now

Carmo's Birds for Byrdy: Naomi Watts


Blogger S.C.E. said...

Sounds like a good trip. Even though you missed stuff you still saw lots of birds I've never seen......

Freezing cold up here and still no Rough Legged Buzzard..........

December 18, 2007 11:59 PM  
Anonymous col said...

hey fella - presume you is still wearing that santa outfit? mite explain why you is dipping so much - scaring everything orf in that get-up! suits you sir!

this week i have mostly turned into you, working long hours into the night - its 22.58 and i'm still here! Oh well, i spose one week out of 52 ain't too bad! don't tink i'd last 5 mins at your firm!

December 19, 2007 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Pee said...

My Fucking God,
Why exactly are we friends again ???? I'm completely delerious from lack of sleep (6 hours in about 3 days) size of Middleton in Panama City,stuck in a 10 hour layover before the 18 hour bus to Costa Rica.I'm officially over the travelling thing for a while.The glamour is gone.And then I read your page and nearly had a seizure.Patent that.

December 19, 2007 8:01 AM  
Blogger Jer said...

That originally said " in a mall the size of middleton".Not sure what happened there.I'm going to go sleep in the cinema.Or maybe the toilet.

December 19, 2007 8:02 AM  
Anonymous col said...

was it the dress?

or the fact that he still ain't seen desert lesser whitethroat? oml ya bas!

December 19, 2007 8:03 AM  
Blogger CC said...

Just back from a few days in the Gall, where the only bird I saw was a male Hen Harrier!

Chat soon man, around for a few days now - or months...

Seeing as all my mates are gone I better go buy myself some christmas pressies!

December 20, 2007 1:26 AM  
Blogger Minnsy said...

Darn are catching up fast..not sure I wanna help you find more birds to catch up with me.

Why do and Neil keep seeing tons of Wryneck? A nice haul anuwau even if you didn't get the target species.

The flock of Short-toed lark sounds well dodgy..never heard of a multiple flock in Japan before, though I think there has beena flock or two of Asian( Lesser) Short Toed.

A REDHEAD...where exactly was that? I think that is the 2nd, the only other being a female on Shinobaze Pond in Ueno Park to my knowledge.
I'd deffo twitch that as only ever seen 1.

Just for your info a Chinese Great Grey Shrike and Ricard's Pipit are down in Kyshu..though a bit far off our route I fear! Likewise there is also a couple of Baer's Pochard, but not wthin striking distance!

December 23, 2007 4:25 PM  
Blogger Gallicissa said...

Dipping after a 10 hour long in the cold sounds bad. Nice pics.

December 26, 2007 9:06 PM  
Blogger Gallicissa said...

Dipping after a 10 hour long wait in the cold sounds bad. Nice pics.

December 26, 2007 9:09 PM  
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