Monday, January 10, 2011

Oita River

January 2nd saw me catching a train to Oita since early morning. I wanted to take some photos of the tame ducks at the same spot I took last year. Unfortunately, the tide was too low and the ducks were all floating far in the middle of the river. A few Common Teals and Northern Shovelers were swimming around closely in the area though, but they happened to be so much shier than last year, so no photos taken. The weather was great, by the way. A bit windy, about 10km/hr, but not very cold, and the sun was shining brightly for most of the time too. There were lots of Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) roosting on the rocks along the river. As the sun slowly rose up, even more of them came flying in from the sea direction.

Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo)
I remember seeing the description for the Great Cormorant in a Japanese Bird Guide, which I borrowed from my birding pal, noting Oita Prefecture as one of the well-known breeding sites of this species in Japan. I think that's the only line where the name Oita is mentioned in the book. Anyway, that's just me trying to feel good about having just a few other birds to photograph on that morning other than the cormorants.
Beppu Ropeway viewing from Oita River

Even more photos of the Great Cormorants
Male Baikal Teals (Anas formosa)
A surprise kicked in as I scanned through the distant flock of ducks. Two male Baikal Teals (Anas formosa) were floating along with a small group of Common Teals on the other side of the river. Two days ago I just failed to see any at Kaku, now I finally found 2 of them. Shame they were just too far away. Don't know when will I be able to photograph this beautiful duck properly... A few pairs of Gadwalls, Common Teals and Shoveler were swimming a bit closer though.
Male (left) and female (right) Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Male Common Teal (Anas crecca)
At the place where I photographed all the ducks last year, there were also at least 2 White Wagtail, a Japanese Wagtail and a Common Sandpiper. One of the White Wagtail was surely the same bird I photographed last year. It has greyish plumage instead of pure white. I also think that the Common Sandpiper was also the same bird that I photographed last year as well. These birds have messy plumage because of the dirty environment of which they're all living in.
Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata)

Camouflaging female Japanese Green Pheasant (Phasianus versicolor)

Male Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus)
I accidentally flushed a female Japanese Green Pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) which was feeding in the thick bush near the footpath. I thought that it wouldn't come back, so I continued to walk to the other area. As I walked back, I heard the sound of something foraging in the dense bush, the same spot where the female pheasant was flushed. I sat down slowly and wait to see if anything will come out or not, but nothing moved. So I scanned through the thick bush with my binocular, and bingo I spotted a female pheasant lying low among the dry leaves. It kept lying motionlessly for about a minute before suddenly flushed up and flew across the river to the other side.

Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope); male with green eye patch (lower left)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) carrying unidentified objects
I ended the day by walking towards the sea to photograph a flock of Eurasian Wigeons, which always spends their winter staying in the same area. Normally, they would be walking on the lawn, grazing fresh green grass, but as the grass has already dried up, they were down in the river feeding on seaweed. The light was not perfect, as most of the time, the sun was already behind the birds. I only got a few good shots. November must be an ideal month, when the grass is still green, and the birds are much easier to photograph.


Chris said...

Wow these Baikal teals are fantastic. If you happen to sent one over here, I'll send you some waxwings ;-) Beautiful post as usually, it is nice to discover your world, and I have to admit, I'd love to discover it with my own eyes ,-)

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Thanks a lot, Chris. You've always been very generous :D
With this current state of climate change and many other freaky environmental problems we have, I'm sure one day a Baikal Teal will end up somewhere around the north pole! In the meantime, let me know if you're planning to visit Japan ;-)

Phil said...

Lovely shots of the cormorants in flight. It is so difficult to get close to them here in the UK because they are a quarry species and persecuted by fishermen and so avoid hunan contact.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Thanks a lot, Phil! Actually these cormorants aren't that approachable though. I had to slowly crawl through low vegetation in order to get close to them. Most of the time they fly away to soon.

martesorex said...

I don't know about the breeding site of Great Cormorant in Oita.
And nice finding of Bikal Teal!
I like the Carrion Crow's photo.

Dominic Gendron said...

Lovelly serie, makes me love the cormorant and see it under a new point of view ;)

John said...

Happy New Year ! Clear sunshine and good birds