Thursday, March 4, 2010

East Hokkaido Trip VI

Feb 23rd was my last full day birding in Rausu and the minshuku owner was so kind that he offered me a drive from Kasuga to Rausu port. I got off the car and walked around the area taking photos of some common birds again. The weather was much better than the day before and along the way I had very nice views of Steller's Sea Eagles perching on high dead trees against ultramarine blue sky. However, it's got more and more cloudy as I arrived the port, yet still had periods of sunlight.
A view of Rausu Port

All the places where I took photos of the birds

To make sure you're not in the wrong town!

There was a lot of ice in the port and several Pelagic Cormorants were swimming and diving all over the place. Some of them were even tame enough for me to get pleasant shots in close range. I saw this species once in Beppu 2 years ago but the birds were far away in the sea. Other common species were presenting well as usual including the goldeneyes, scaups, mergansers and swans. Lots of eagles were circling up in the sky and one juvenile White-tailed came down to the port. These birds were much more wary here in land than when they're out in the sea.

A non-breeding Pelagic Cormorant

A juvenile White-tailed Eagle

And an adult

More photos of the Whooper Swan

This female Common Merganser didn't care about my presence at all.

However, my main target of the day was actually the beautiful Harlequin Duck, which I have seen so many of them but couldn't take any decent shot. I saw a male swimming in the harbour the day before so I waited for them around the area. In the meanwhile, I took loads of photos of the same flock of tame Greater Scaups. Too bad the beautiful male wasn't quite cooperative like the day before, so I mainly got photos of the females and eclipse males.

A female Greater Scaup

An ugly male moulting out of its eclipse

And a better looking one

Steller's Sea Eagle soaring high up in the sky

A 2cy Glaucous Gull

And a 1cy Glaucous-winged Gull

After a long wait for the Harlequin Duck, I finally spotted a pair of male and female bird feeding in one corner of the harbour. With a lot of hide and seek tricks and patient, I finally got some decent shots of the species. It's incredible to see all those feather and pattern closely. I can't imagine how nature creates such a wonderful beast like this.

A male Harlequin Duck

Typical behaviour of the bird when searching for food

Though lacking those vivid colours, the female bird is also pretty.

Always nice to see them in pairs

I have no program for the day again, so I just sat down there at the port, shooting whatever came into the range of my lens. The photos are quite repetitive so I won't be putting so many of them here. You can just check them out in my main gallery website here http://www.pbase.com/ayuwat_j/hokkaido_2010

A male Common Goldeneye

A younger male

An even tamer Pelagic Cormorant

More Common Goldeneyes

A male Harlequin Duck

Before I left the port in the afternoon, a flock of Harlequin Duck which was always staying far in the sea unexpectedly came close to where I was sitting. I was so surprised that these birds can also be quite tame at times, so I finally completed my mission for the day once again. I love these ducks!

Many of them were doing group display

So the story of my trip ends here. I really like Russell's use of the word "Where the Earth Ends" in his article here. For me it's not only where the earth ends, but it's where my dream has begun and I finally made it there. I'm sure there will be the next time. I've got Blakiston's Fish Owl, Gyrfalcon, Rough-legged Buzzard, sea mammals and many more to see!

3 comments:

Russell said...

Again, some very beautiful camera work, Ayuwat. Love the Harlequin Ducks and the Pelagic Cormorants. (You did a slendid job exposing the cormorants)
-Thank you so much for reference to my article but I must stress that "Where the Earth Ends" is not my phrase but the actual meaning from the Ainu language. (I heard it many years ago and have found it in various places when researching Shiretoko).
I'm happy you accomplished all your missions!Very interesting read and beautiful pics. I hope you do go back. I hope to go back too.

S.C.E. said...

Nice Harlequin shots, they are very tricky to photograph. Not only the exposure but also the fact they like to swim just that little bit too far offshore.........you nailed them.

The afternoon shots are great.

Hokkaido is wonderful isn't it?

Phil said...

You spoil us with too many good photographs but I like the Scaup because I dont ever see them in any numbers and not in such detail. Thanks