Monday, December 28, 2009

Shorebird Watch at Ariake Sea II

The next morning I woke up at 6 and took the 6.48 bus to the same bus stop. Today I'm going to spend the whole day at the shore so I prepared some onigiri and bentou. It was still pretty dark when I arrived at the bus stop around 7.15. The walk to the shore was not as tiresome as the day before. Cold temperature made everything looks a bit prettier along the way. The Black-billed Magpie and Tree Sparrow seemed to be one of the first birds to wake up and feed.
I was extremely angry when I finally arrived at the shoreline and found out that the sea tide was even lower than yesterday and almost no bird there on the mudflat near the walkway. I disappointingly took few pictures of the shelduck that was standing close to the walkway and left the mudflat to the otherside of the shore where there were few reedbeds. From what I've read in Mark Brazil's book, the Chinese Penduline-Tits (Remiz consobrinus) are usually found here. When I arrived there I was so surprised that 25 years have past and nothing's changed. I immediately found a flock of about 30+ birds moving around in the reedbed. They were extremely active and really really hard to get decent shots. I felt much better after witnessing the emptiness of the shoreline. The Penduline-Tit has a very distinct high pitched call unlike those of the buntings or white-eyes which can easily be recognized. I spent time running around chasing these little cuties until I've got some quite satisfied results and then moved on to the other part of the reed bed.

A non-breeding male Chinese Penduline-Tit

And a female

And another non-breeding male

Along the way there were so many Siberian Meadow Buntings and at the end of the reed bed more than a hundred of Reed Buntings were gathering there. They were easily flushed away and tended to hide deep in the reed, so photographing went on roughly. I sat and waited for them to come up for about an hour and finally got some nice shots. Bird photography in reed bed can actually be so much fun. It is tricky but the results seem to be pleasing with that warm tone of the dry reeds and morning light. Other birds around the reed bed include Japanese White-eyes, Grey-capped Greenfinch, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Grey Heron, Pale Thrush and surpringly a Ruddy-breasted Crake (Porzana fusca).

A female Siberian Meadow Bunting

A female Reed Bunting

This male bird has already possessed some of the breeding plumage features.

A shy Ruddy-breasted Crake

A typical non-breeding male Reed Bunting

Some more shots of the female Reed Bunting

And a female Siberian Meadow Bunting

I tried so hard to see if there's any rare Pallas's Bunting (Emberiza pallasi) or not but failed miserably. A flock of 8 Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) flew from somewhere far away and landed on the field next to the reed bed. I tried photographing them but they were too wary and flew out before I got any satisfied result. After the lapwings had gone, I walked back to the shore and found that the sea tide has risen up. Some birds were coming closer to the walkway but I finally knew that the highest tide was still too low to push the birds up to the walkway. I definitely have to come back here again in spring.

A flock of Northern Lapwing
I like the pattern of their back when they're landing.

Since the light was a bit better than yesterday, I decided to take photos of the common species around there including the Saunders's Gull and Common Shelduck more. The Common Shelducks were wary at first but with a little technique I could get quite close to them as much as my lens needed. The Saunders's Gulls were everywhere so I don't really worry about photographing them much.

The Saunders's Gulls are pretty much approachable.

A non-breeding male Common Shelduck

And a Grey Heron

It's actually not easy to photograph the shelduck.
They always tended to put their head down to the mud.

A flight shot with ugly lighting

Guess this one is an immature female

Here's a typical juvenile. It looks so white and cute.

The male bird looks so smart and clean. I was really happy to get the green out of its head!

I was even able to take this crappy video of the shelduck by my compact digital camera.
Notice the sound in the video. That's the sound they make when they dabble on the mud!

This immature bird is the tamest one. It came so close to the walkway and I later realized that I took too many pictures of it.

While I was enjoying taking photos of the shelducks, the flock of Dunlin nearby suddenly flushed off making the shelducks flew out too. I knew right then that there must be some kind of raptor passing by so I looked up to the sky and omg I surprisingly found my long time awaited Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus). The bird flew pass over my head and finally disappeared into a distance. It even looked down to me while it was right above my head. That just totally made my day!

A Short-eared Owl passing over my head

After that even the Tree Sparrow looked super cute.

I took this picture because I think the light was pretty but I later found a spoonbill in it!
Can you spot the bird?

This immature Saunders's Gull was so aggressive. It'd give a long aggressive call to anyone who passes near its own territory.

I don't like this lighting condition at all, the sun was always in front of me, so I walked out towards the sea on one of the boardwalks and decided to sit there facing back to the inland waiting for any birds to come around in good light. I had quite a good time having my lunch there and taking photos of mudskippers, dunlins and flying Saunders's Gulls.

The Mudskippers here in Japan look smaller and less colorful than the ones in Thailand.
I was wondering if they're eadible or not while I was having my onigiri.

Oh and I forgot to put this pic on. Common Shelduck's behind the scene.

Dunlins here were not easy to photograph at all. They're always so busy putting their head down to the mud. I can't remember seeing them not feeding.

Another Saunders's Gull with a crab. The bottom pic is another bird which came and chased away the first one. However, it seems like the crab was already dead and the bird didn't want to eat it. They're so Japanese, always like to eat raw foods!

Some bird came too close I didn't know how to fit into the frame.

More flight shots of the adult birds

And a juvenile first-year bird

This guy got another crab.

But this young one got something even more interesting - a mudskipper!

So it was inevitably being chased by this jealous Black-headed Gull.

This one seems to be happy with its own find.

I decided to walk out and preparing to go back to the bus stop, then BAMM came a juvenile Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) flying over my head just like the way the owl did. The Black-faced Spoonbill is my main target bird for this trip actually. This was the best ending for the whole day of birding here. So I took some more shots of the common stuffs around the walkway and walked back to the bus stop happily.

A juvenile Black-faced Spoonbill

Forgive me for putting so many pics of the Saunders's Gull. It's once in a while.

So as the shelduck.

The Daffodils seem to have blossomed here in the south.

1 comment:

S.C.E. said...

Some superb shots here. I would love to go to this place, shame it's so far.............