Okhotsk Chapter
of the Wild Bird Society of Japan


Yobito Birdwatching Trail  (May 5, 2014, 8:00~ )

It has been unseasonably cold this spring after an unusually severe winter of snow. Today was the end of the holiday-studded Golden Week in Japan, a time when the rest of the country enjoyed normal spring weather, while for us it brought what felt like the first day of spring. We were truly fortunate. It was a perfect day to see what the birds were up to, and also a time when the Asian White Skunk Cabbage (Mizu-bashou; Lysichiton camtschatcensis) was in full bloom. I was particularly hoping to see displays of Latham's Snipes that normally occur here at this time of year. They winter in Australia and return to this area and other spots in Hokkaido to breed. The energy they still have is remarkable after migrating thousands of kilometers to get here.

mizubashou mizubashou detail
Mizu-bashou are everywhere. We walk along the rather wet path for about a kilometer before we see Abashiri Lake. The path continues for about 5 kilometers along the Yobito Peninsula that juts out into the lake. Close-up. The cold weather allowed the blossoms to stay out longer than usual this year.
umiaisa kawara-hiwa
After arriving at the lake, we spot numerous varieties of ducks, a few Gray Herons in breeding plummage, a White-tailed Sea-Eagle, and this pair of Red-breasted Mergansers (Umi-aisa). The complete list of birds we either saw or heard this day is below. (Yes, Latham's Snipe is among them! The displays were exciting as usual.)
This bird has a black face but it is not a Black-faced Bunting (Aoji); it is an Oriental Greenfinch (Kawara-hiwa). Unlike the Black-faced Bunting, it is here year-round, but it was nevertheless a treat to see it against the beautiful blue sky.


Adonis ramosa (Fukujuusou). A member of our group explained that the particular plants we saw along the path were of the Kitami variety (Kitami Fukujuusou) which has only one flower per shoot above the ground. Kitami is a city about 50 kilometers inland from here.

Today's list: Falcated Duck (Yoshi-gamo), Mallard (Ma-gamo), Teal (Ko-gamo), Smew (Miko-aisa), Red-breasted Merganser (Umi-aisa), Little Grebe (Kaitsuburi), Oriental Turtle Dove (Kiji-bato), Gray Heron (Ao-sagi), Latham's Snipe (Ooji-shigi), Black-headed Gull (Yuri-kamome), Black Kite (Tobi), White-tailed Eagle (Ojiro-washi), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Hai-taka), Common Kingfisher (Kawa-semi), Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker (Ko-gera), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Ko-aka-gera), White-backed Woodpecker (Oo-aka-gera), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Aka-gera), Eurasian Jay (Kakesu), Carrion Crow (Hashiboso-garasu), Large-billed Crow (Hashibuto-garasu), Marsh Tit (Hashibuto-gara), Varied Tit (Yama-gara), Japanese Tit (Shijuu-gara), Eurasian Skylark (Hibari), Brown-eared Bulbul (Hiyodori), Japanese Bush Warbler (Uguisu), Asian Stubtail (Yabusame), Long-tailed Tit ssp (Shima Enaga), Eurasian Nuthatch (Gojuu-kara), Eurasian Treecreeper (Kibashiri), White-cheeked Starling (Mukudori), Russet Sparrow (Nyuunai-suzume), White Wagtail (Haku-sekirei), Oriental Greenfinch (Kawara-hiwa), Long-tailed Rosefinch (Beni-mashiko), Hawfinch (Shime), Black-faced Bunting (Aoji) [38 species]

  Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
Land     5 20, 30 7 3
Sea 5, 8, 15, 19 23, 26, 27 23 1 7 10, 31 14

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