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just a little blog where I waffle on about my birding experiences here in Western Japan...
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From dip to tick

Posted Tuesday 30th October 2007 at 16:48 by lostinjapan
News of a Baillon's Crake in nearby Yamaguchi Prefecture from the previous weekend made me think 3rd time is lucky, even though it had not been seen since Sunday.

So Saturday morning found me on an early bullet train to Southern Yamaguchi.

I arrived at the site, a shallow reed-fringed lagoon behind a seawall to find a strong wind and intermittent showers..not promising weather.

Many ducks were fresh in and among the commoner species were 5 Falcated Duck still in eclipse plumage.

Waders were poorly represented, there were around 15 Greenshank, 12 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 1 Pacific Golden Plover ( a further 9 later on) and several Common Sandpiper along the edges of the lagoon, busily stocking up before continuing their migration south.

On the sea a couple of Great Crested Grebe still in the vestiges of summer plumage were close inshore, with Cormorants, and the odd Vegae Gull among 100's of Black-headed Gull and Black-tailed Gulls.

However, the only rails and crakes were 6 or 7 Moorhen, a few Coot and 2 Water sign of a Baillon's.

Another dip looked on the cards.

I decided to go walkabout to see what else I could find among the nearby fields and dykes.

In the reeds Black-browed Reed Warblers flitted, Siberian Stonechats hopped down from Golden Rod and Chestnut-eared Bunting and (Korean)Meadow Bunting chipped from the scrub.

A Ruddy Crake rushed for cover in reedy dykes, an Osprey sat on poles crunching on a recently caught fish, a female Sparrowhawk was mobbed by crows and wheeled off over the fields, as a Buzzard joined the ubiquitous Black Kites soaring above the nearby wooded hill.

A Red-throated Pipit shreeped as it flew overhead, and a lone White-fronted Goose tried to blend in with a huge flock of Mallard and Spotbill Duck to no avail.

As I contiuned my walk I saw two falcons hovering above a nearby airfiled in the distance. They seemed to have very pale faces and hovered a lot faster than Kestrel..but surely that was what they were..then one began to eat a grasshopper on the wing and I began to wonder.

As I drew closer two birds settled on wires over nearby rice passies and I to my unbelieving eyes I realized they were Amur Falcons.

After missing them last weekend they were the last birds I expected to find, as they are such a rare vagrant to the main islands of Japan. There had been no records in Yamaguchi before to my knowledge, away from offshore islands and here I was staring right at two birds, a bluish hobby-like female and beautiful pale 1st winter. Then to my surprise and joy a third bird joined them! Another 1st winter type.

I tried to edge near enough to get some poor record shots and then phoned out the news.

I continued to watch them perform aeriel acrobatics over the airfield catching insects in mid-air or pouncing on them on the ground, before intermittently returning to the wires to rest and preen. For a time they were joined by a female Kestrel, which slowly drifted off along the seawall.

As the afternoon drew on I decided to have one last look for the Baillon's Crake and for my patient efforts I was rewarded with cracking views of Yellow Bittern and another Ruddy Crake..but alas no Baillon's Crake.

So a tick out of a dip..not a bad day at all.

However, the previous week at Hiroshima Castle had been a bit of a rollercoaster ride...mainly of disappointment, as I missed another possible lifer..Lanceolated Warbler..only made up for with brief views of Woodcock and Wryneck and a single Siberian Rubythroat. The first Pochard, Tufted Duck and Little Grebe of the autumn also turned up on the moat.

The photos attached were taken by my friend Sumida-san the next day.
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Total Comments 1


HokkaidoStu's Avatar
Wow! Amur Flacons and lots of other stuff we don't get up here................
Posted Wednesday 31st October 2007 at 13:00 by HokkaidoStu HokkaidoStu is offline
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