This blog is for family and friends, to share my feelings and photos with and for myself, to support my fading memory and improve my Japanese. I intend to do some writing in kanji, but am not getting very far without a Japanese computer. So for the moment I say "konnichi wa". Aisatsu dake - just saying hello.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

daijugarami 1

On Sept 21st it was time to check out the Ariaki Sea in Saga. The vast mud flats of Daijugarami (大授搦) provide food for many migrators and every year in spring and autumn thousands of shorebirds make this place their stop-over. We can hear their chatter from far and see them a couple of hundred meters away. But when the tide comes in their feeding ground becomes flooded and the waders move further towards the shore, allowing us a closer look. At spring tide the seawater runs a long way in and many birds enter the seaside concrete path that runs through a kind of park with bushes of shichimenso (シチメンソウ)They stay there for an hour or however long it takes for the water to withdraw and the mud to become exposed again. The birds fly in huge numbers, creating black clouds in the sky; a spectacular sight, to say the least.

The Grey Plovers are most prominent, followed in number by Red-necked Stints, Dunlins and Great Knots.

Grey Plover,  ダイゼン getting their feet wet and about to fly.

 Also easy to spot are the Curlews and Whimbrels as well as the Godwits, because of their size.-

Often the last ones to leave the flooded mud flatFar Eastern Curlew,  ホウロクシギ and  Eurasian Curlew,  ダイシャクシギ (in the center)

Above and below:  Far Eastern Curlew,  ホウロクシギ

 Small birds but not so shy are the Sand Plovers, some still with their orange summer colors.  Below a juvenile, born this year.   Lesser Sand Plover,  メダイチドリ

Anything else has to be observed carefully. Fortunately there were some more birders, many with much more experience.

above a Marsh Sandpiper,  コアオアシシギ
below a Whimbrel,  チュウシャクシギ On the last patch of mud

Suddenly they all fly

And land in front of us. All mixed up

The Grey Plovers, ダイゼンare re-grouping


So are the Great Knots,  オバシギ

More Great Knots,  オバシギ


and more

To be continued...

daijugarami 2

Many people think that because we live on a boat we get many chances to see shore birds, but nothing is less true. Shore birds are found close to shore, a place you don’t want to come close to on a sail boat. If we do, we have to pay all our attention to the navigation. On top of that, try your binoculars on a rolling swell…. It’s definitely no fun.

Plovers, Knots, Godwits, in a colorful collection

A blotch of gold among the grey:  Pacific Golden Plover,  ムナグロ

The 2 Godwits with their long bills stand out in the crowd
Bar-tailed Godwit,  オオソリハシシギ

Same pair

A bit removed from my point: 2 Far Eastern Curlews,  ホウロクシギ (left and right) and a Eurasian Curlew,  ダイシャクシギ (center) between the Shichimenso.

2 Lesser Sand Plovers,  メダイチドリon the left and a Red-necked Stint,  トウネン
 on the right

Sand Plovers posing for comparison: 2 Lesser メダイチドリ on the right and a Greater, オオメダイチドリ (slightly longer bill and bigger size) on the left.

That day there were no rare birds hidden in the flock - I was told.  No Nordmann’s Greenshank, No Asian Dowither and no Spoonbilled Sandpiper. That was fine with me. I was happy watching the ordinary crowd and decided for myself to find some Broad-billed Sandpipers. I don’t have a scope, just my Olympic binos and started as soon as the birds landed ashore.

Now, that wasn’t easy. The birds of equal size, Stints, Sand Plovers, Dunlins were all moving around a pile of grey stones and the moment I thought I found one it was hidden again by those stones or other birds. Look at the the scene below to get an idea of what we were looking at.

My position was a bit low maybe, but it was either that or a greater distance.

I asked others. Their answer was always something like: Sure, they are there but no, I haven’t seen one actually. Then, when my neighbor spotted one, fixed his scope on it and I figured out its location (not easy for non-scopers) I managed to capture an image.

Broad-billed Sandpiper,  キリアイ between the Dunlins,  ハマシギ

 Later I found one myself as well, but boy that was hard!

Time is up, birds are heading back to the mud, where bugs and snails are waiting and they can get their fill before the big journey south. 

Grey Plover,  ダイゼン

Some stay here however, like the Dunlin,  ハマシギ
I will see them back in Meinohama.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Kanzaki 1 Amasagi

On trips to Saga, our neighboring prefecture we would often drop by Kanzaki to see how the herons were doing
See more and more. 
On our 2nd visit in June the number of birds had increased enormously. The little colony was over populated, with birds on every single piece of branch. There were many nests with chicks of just a few days old and chicks that seemed nearly full-grown. The usual bustling food race was full on with parents flying in left and right, while others were still in their courting stages. In short: Lots to see.

Cattle Egret,  アマサギ

Cattle Egret in breeding get that orange coloring on their head and chest. The lace-like feathers at the back aren't theirs, they belong to a different egret.

I thought it would be hard to tell the different chicks apart but it's not really. They have the same face with that kind of angry expression :)

Kanzaki 2 chusagi

Intermediate Egret,  チュウサギ

I like their impressive display, but this time it was the intimacy between a courting male and female that struck me most.

親密 shinmitsu,  intimacy

子孫 shison,  offspring

Kanzaki 3 ao dai goisagi

More images of the crowd: Great, Cattle and Little Egret.

Below two Night Herons watching the Little Egrets.

Feeding the hungry chicks must be such a stressful process



The parent (left) making up its mind who to feed

Black-crowned Night Heron,  ゴイサギ

The young night heron and the turtle would make a pleasant scene if the water wasn't that dirty.

It’s a bit embarrassing, such a bad photograph, but I will publish this.