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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 00:58   #26
MacNara
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Thank you very much for all your helpful comments. I think that distinguising between these two species is highly difficult. According to MacNara information, then my last two pictures, taken in Odaiba island, Tokyo, in august, would be great cormorants. I have magnified the area containing the cormorants that can be distinguised, and now I see a big yellow area, and probably correspond to great cormorants. Here you have the pictures.
Hi Antonio. Thank you for your reply. I would be happy for you if you had seen Temminck's Cormorant. I just don't think any of the photos you posted show it clearly enough for ID, even if it had been there. And it is supposed to be a winter bird there, if it is. Maybe this is your excuse for making a winter trip to Japan? There is an excellent trip report on this site of a February/March trip to Japan last year by Bird Forum member and professional bird artist Adam 'BirdBoyBowley' Bowley.

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I do know that Japanese Cormorant winters on the harbour walls at Choshi in its hundreds if not thousands - the place is famed for it!
Hi Steve: that's interesting to know. There are hotspots for certain birds, I know. To repeat, I'd be happy for Antonio if he had found this bird, and my main point was that his photos didn't show this clearly, and then that there were other reasons for doubting he would find them so easily or in that location in that season.

By chance, at the time I was looking at this thread, I was also reading a series of mails on Kantori about e-Bird lists of Japanese birds.

Kantori is a mailing list on Yahoo! in English used by foreign birders and some Japanese. It's not very active, and the main group of users seems to be quite small, and Tokyo-based. I'm not a member, so I can't contribute, but you can subscribe to the mailing list without being a member. However, it looks like they are moving to Facebook which I'm not on. If you are interested there is information here. Unfortunately, these people are not members of Bird Forum, or if they are, don't visit often. I was hoping one of them would comment here, because they are much more knowledgeable than me, but they didn't.

e-Bird is a US-based site where people can post lists of birds they saw on a particular day in a particular location, from around the world. One of the things the organisers hope to do is to create species lists for particular locations and particular seasons, including rarity of the species. It's a sort of crowd-sourced birding research site. In exchange for your data, you get an online bird list organiser for yourself. (I'm not a member or user.)

In the case of Japan, most lists posted are by birders visiting from abroad. Apparently there is quite a problem of misindentified birds, which makes the data much less useful as a research tool. (Of course, this is not a problem only for their Japan pages.)

So, if I sounded a bit severe, it was because I had this in mind. And also, as I said, I had just started collating my ten-year photos, and realised that in early days I had also misidentified these species.

Anyway, I hope the photos and comments I posted were helpful on balance, and I wish all of you the best for your birding life wherever you are in the world, and in Japan, if you have the chance to visit or visit again.
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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 04:47   #27
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To repeat, I'd be happy for Antonio if he had found this bird, and my main point was that his photos didn't show this clearly, and then that there were other reasons for doubting he would find them so easily or in that location in that season.
There's now so much confusion running rampant through this thread that, even as a contributor to it, I myself am no longer sure what's going on! If any of this confusion has been introduced at any stage by me, I apologise unreservedly to all the other contributors for it (as well as to anyone else that has had the misfortune to read this thread).

First of all, Mac, I am in complete agreement with you that all of Antonio's birds are Great Cormorant! I gave reasons for this in #4 and #14. Although there are one or two more debateable individuals in his second batch of photos, I feel (like you) that the images are not clear enough to say for sure, and am 'on the fence' as regards their identity.

However, I am at odds with you over Alex's birds (different poster, different group of birds, different location, different date), which I feel contains a good number of Japanese Cormorants, as I have said (in a very politely 'hedged' and unexpectedly ire-provoking fashion) in #20. Although this photo too is a little unclear, there is more on show there to support the poster's initial identification as Japanese Cormorant than there is to negate it. I will add that the poster also has a much nicer photo on his 'Bird-dex' site of clear Japanese Cormorants (juveniles with all-yellow bills), presumably from the same location (as it is also captioned Kamakura).

The non-sequitur proposition 'Because it is rare where I live, it must therefore be rare everywhere else' can also be quickly disproved by referring to the sites you yourself provide. 'Kantori Mailing List' is a contributor to eBird, and has posted winter records for Choshi of up to 2000 Japanese Cormorants. There are also winter records of up to 250 at nearby (to Kamakura) Miura.

So, I guess this leaves us in disagreement over Alex's photo (but not over Antonio's), but hopefully in the mutually respectful position of 'agreeing to disagree'.

Steve

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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 06:19   #28
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So, I guess this leaves us in disagreement over Alex's photo (but not over Antonio's), but hopefully in the mutually respectful position of 'agreeing to disagree'.
Well, yes, we'll have to disagree on this. Looking at Alex's photo, the face on bird A, which he agrees is Great, and on bird B, which he thinks is Temminck's look the same to me apart from the angle of the birds' heads. Neither has the pointy bit which I take to be distinctive of Temminck's. I've blown the head part of this photo up and attached them. But, I can't say it absolutely isn't Temminck's because of the nature of the photo.

And I tried to post photos of various Great Cormorant heads, some of which (breeding) have rather little yellow. I'm glad if Alex has good shots of Temminck's elsewhere. I just don't think this photo shows them. So, we'll have to disagree, and I fully respect your comments and contribution to this thread, from which I have learned (e.g. by making me look at my old photos and realising I mid-ID'd stuff; and by making me look at various of my books more closely, and decide for myself what criteria I would use to ID these birds definitely).

You may be right and I may be wrong. But, I did try to give detailed reasons for my opinions and back these with extensive visual information, so that people can pick me up on mis-IDs or wrong reasoning, as you have tried to correct me about the rarity of Temminck's. I didn't just say, 'I'm right and you're wrong because I live here and you don't'. I would have been happy if someone who is more knowledgeable than me and more experienced had replied, but they didn't, so I tried to help.

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The non-sequitur proposition 'Because it is rare where I live, it must therefore be rare everywhere else' can also be quickly disproved by referring to the sites you yourself provide. 'Kantori Mailing List' is a contributor to eBird, and has posted winter records for Choshi of up to 2000 Japanese Cormorants. There are also winter records of up to 250 at nearby (to Kamakura) Miura.
I apologise again if I came across as gruff on this topic. But I think you are twisting my words a little bit. As I clearly said, it's not rare where I live, it's non-existent, because I live about as far from the sea as you can get in Japan (at least horizontally), and even further from wild sea. And I did agree that the east (Pacific) coast of Honshu may be different.

I am not denying the existence of 'hot-spots', such as the ones you mention in Choshi and Miura. What I was trying to say was that if you go to a random place on the Japanese coast, even if it's a bit rocky, and even in winter, and see cormorants, they are much more likely to be Great than to be Temminck's. After all, people point out hotspots for a species precisely because you can't just find them any old place.

But I have searched for Temminck's when I have visited the coast (near or far) in winter, and not found many. And when I reviewed old photos when preparing a reply to this thread, I realised I'd seen even fewer than I thought. We have Great Cormorants at my local pond - some seem to stay over the summer, and in winter there are hundreds. When on trips to the coast, near or far, I have searched for Temminck's and even in winter seen very few.

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Having never been there, I don't know Japan at all well...
Well, if you do decide to make a trip (preferably not in summer, over the New Year or at Golden Week), send me a PM, fly to Kansai airport, and I'll treat you to dinner in Nara (and a room if you like). We live right next to all the main sites in the World Heritage area.
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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 08:18   #29
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Well, if you do decide to make a trip (preferably not in summer, over the New Year or at Golden Week), send me a PM, fly to Kansai airport, and I'll treat you to dinner in Nara (and a room if you like). We live right next to all the main sites in the World Heritage area.
Well played, sir! A well-intentioned conciliatory move that instantly diffuses any tension that's been building up here! Thank you very much for your kind offer, Mac. My only worry is that one day you might actually live to regret it (I only live down the road)!

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Old Thursday 19th October 2017, 08:27   #30
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Well played, sir! A well-intentioned conciliatory move that instantly diffuses any tension that's been building up here! Thank you very much for your kind offer, Mac. My only worry is that one day you might actually live to regret it (I only live down the road)!
On the contrary. It's because you are just down the road that I said this. It's a genuine offer. We enjoy having the occasional visitor. Judging from your comments, we'd probably get on. But even if not, hey... Cheap flights these days mean we're all closer than we used to be. But use the PM feature if you acually do this.
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Old Friday 20th October 2017, 20:17   #31
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Now some egrets from Japan

Hi again,

Changing a little bit the topic, now I include two pictures of two species for which I also have some doubts. The first one was seen in Katsura River, in Arashiyama, near Japan, and I guess that it is a great white egret (Ardea alba). The second one was taken in the beach at Chirihama Nagisa Driveway, near Kanazawa. I think that the last can be an intermediate egret (Ardea intermedia), but I do not have experience with this species and I am not sure. Both taken last august.

Thank you,
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Old Saturday 21st October 2017, 12:19   #32
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Hi Arodris: I apologise if I made your thread about birds in Japan into something too complicated.

I think both of your birds are Great White Egrets. The reason is that the loral line doesn't reach behind the eye in Intermediate, but it does in both of your photos. Also the bill in your second photo seems too slim and the neck too long and curved for Intermediate.

However, there is a small problem with these birds. There are two sub-species, which may become two species, Ardea alba alba (Japanese: Great Egret) and Ardea alba modesta (which in Japanese we call Intermediate Great Egret). There is quite a lot of discussion over the range and differentiation of these. Your first bird reminds me of alba (though some say it's not in Japan in the summer, I think I've seen it in the Katsura River where your photo was taken); your second, assuming I'm right with Great, is modesta.

Anyway, I attach a photo of an Intermediate from August near to Kyoto. You can see that the loral line is not so black, doesn't reach behind the eye, and the neck is less bent that with your bird.
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Old Saturday 21st October 2017, 21:29   #33
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Thank you MacNara,

Don't worry about the thread. It has been an interesting discussion about cormorants, that may help some other people (in addition to me, of course).

Now I see what you mean with the loral line. I read about that but it was difficult to appreciate in the pictures that I studied.

Thanks again to you and all other people participating in the discussion.
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Old Sunday 22nd October 2017, 01:07   #34
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Off-topic, but, assuming you are in fact Catalan or Spanish, your English is astonishingly good.Better than mine!
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Old Sunday 22nd October 2017, 11:26   #35
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Thank you,

Yes, I am spanish living in Barcelona. I use english almost every day in my work. Although speking is more difficult than writting...

Anyway, you also have a very good english level.

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Old Sunday 22nd October 2017, 12:15   #36
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Anyway, you also have a very good english level.
That's good to know, especially as I am originally English, though I've lived in Japan for a long time.

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Old Thursday 14th December 2017, 15:06   #37
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I'm way too late to this debate.............

The Cormorants in the OP's post are Great Cormorants, as has been said earlier. The shape of the yellow skin patch on the face is diagnostic as is the bronze sheen.

Temincks are way more common up here in Hokkaido and AFAIK in the rest of Japan too. In the Tokyo area Great Cormorants seem to be relatively common inland however.

Great Cormorants in Hokkaido only seem to occur on lakes/rivers/estuaries. On the open sea/rocky coasts/ports etc they are generally absent. I'm sure this generally holds true in the rest of Japan too. But I may be wrong..............
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Old Friday 15th December 2017, 06:42   #38
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Temincks are way more common up here in Hokkaido and AFAIK in the rest of Japan too. In the Tokyo area Great Cormorants seem to be relatively common inland however.

Great Cormorants in Hokkaido only seem to occur on lakes/rivers/estuaries. On the open sea/rocky coasts/ports etc they are generally absent. I'm sure this generally holds true in the rest of Japan too. But I may be wrong..............
Hi Stuart. Judging from the maps in Mark Brazil's book, Great Cormorant would be completely absent from Hokkaido, though the text does say 'Hokkaido?' for summer. But I'm sure they must be there.

But in the summer, outside Hokkaido and a couple of islands, any cormorant seen in Japan is going to be Great Cormorant I think. Around my inland area in Kansai, we have huge numbers of Great in winter, and still some in summer. They fish in teams of twenty or more on my local pond which is only about 1km in circumference. They don't breed just where I am, but they must do so not so far away, as they are not gone very long in the summer.

It may be that Temminck's are more common in winter on the Pacific coast than elsewhere (someone mentioned a spot in Chiba), but my experience of the Seto Inland Sea coast is that even at the coast and ports what you get is overwhelmingly/entirely Great - but then there's essentially a huge concrete wall from Wakayama City to Fukuoka; there's only some wild rocky shore on islands, so unless you are on a boat, you are not likely to see Temminck's in this area (but I'm happy if someone wants to present evidence to the contrary). Ditto on the other side of the Kii Peninsula from Nagoya down through Mie to southern Wakayama - another solid concrete wall.

Sometimes in Kyushu I have seen Great on harbour walls, and the tetrapods, but the birds farther out on rocks in the ocean might be Temminck's. I don't have the equipment to see well enough to know. When I looked through old photos when I saw this thread, I was surprised how few certain Temminck's I had. I think this is not just because they are scarcer, but they are further away, on rocks actually in the ocean, and not in ports, and with the distance, and the sea spray, it's much more difficult to get a good photo, or to see the detail well enough to be sure.

I would have thought that in Japan as a whole, Great Cormorant is massively more numerous than Temminck's. It would be interesting if someone had figures.
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Old Friday 15th December 2017, 08:53   #39
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I would have thought that in Japan as a whole, Great Cormorant is massively more numerous than Temminck's. It would be interesting if someone had figures.
I have to say I thought the complete opposite but I have no evidence to back it up with. I was under the impression that Great Cormorants only occurred at a few sites mainly inland. But I have almost no experienece of birding in Japan outside Hokkaido and Tokyo............
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Old Friday 15th December 2017, 12:55   #40
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I have to say I thought the complete opposite but I have no evidence to back it up with. I was under the impression that Great Cormorants only occurred at a few sites mainly inland. But I have almost no experienece of birding in Japan outside Hokkaido and Tokyo............
Well, in Hokkaido, what you say ought to be true. But when I started birding about ten years ago, I put down all the birds at the coast as Temminck's, but when I looked closely at the photos, they almost always weren't. Anyway, I described my experience above.

If you know Mark Brazil, maybe you could ask him for his opinion. Or I might ask ND in Kyoto to ask Brazil (and give his own opinion).

I looked at 'A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan' from 1962, as well as Brazil and a couple of other books, but they don't seem to agree.

FGBJ says Temminck's is a 'locally common breeding resident of rocky seacoast from Kyushu northward. But Brazil has them breeding in some bits of Hokkaido and Aomori / Akita and a few smaller islands (but mostly in Russia), but not in any other part of Japan (and I think he's right here).

Similarly, FGBJ says Great are 'locally common breeding resident in Aomori, Tokyo, Aichi, Shiga and Oita'. But as Brazil's map shows they are resident in a much wider area, including most or all of Japan from Sado in the west to Tokyo in the east southwards. Again, I think he's right but that Great are actually even more widespread and numerous than he says.

In my area, any reasonably-sized pond with any fish in the water has Great Cormorants, and that's been my experience in other areas of Japan that I've visited. And my impression is that they treat the concreted-off areas of coastline and ports (i.e. almost all of the coastline in central / southern Honshu at least) in the same way. And the Temminck's insist on natural habitat and wilder seas.
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Old Friday 15th December 2017, 14:51   #41
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I would say the precise ID of both Temincks/Great Cormorants is probably ignored by many birders in Japan (me included). The 2 look very similar and I have to say I rarely check any big Cormorants I see.

Up here is perhaps a bit different and south Hokkaido may be the nothern limit of Great in Japan. Temincks is very common on the coast here and Great only seems to breed in 2 locations in SW Hokkaido AFAIK: a lake and a river.
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