Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hokkaido - Cape Nosappu and Kirtappu then back to Kushiro

We've now left all the ice behind unfortunately, having just spent a couple of great nights at Lodge Furen with Take and his wife. Wonderful food and loads of birding info too. On our way there, we stopped at a couple of harbours - Shibetsu which was good for some nice Harlequins and then the frozen over Odaito harbour, where enticed with bread and popcorn among the Slaty-backed and Glaucous-winged Gulls, we found an adult Kumlien's Gull (pretty decent for Hokkaido apparently) and an adult Vega Gull.
Harlequin Ducks Shibetsu, Hokkaido 29th December 2015

adult Kumlien's Gull Odaito, Hokkaido 29th December 2015
adult Glaucous Gull (presumably barrovianus) Odaito, Hokkaido 29th December 2015
We had a full day around the peninsular too; it wasn't really enough time to do the place justice but we poked our noses in to enough places to realise just how many seaduck, cormorants and alcids enjoy spending their time here in winter. Cape Nosappu was decent with a handful of Red-faced Cormorants roosting among the numerous Pelagic Cormorants while from the lighthouse a dozen or so Ancient Murrelets, lots of Spectacled Guillemots and a couple of Pigeon Guillemots were noted. Plenty of Harlequins, Black Scoters, Pacific Divers and Red-necked Grebes offshore too.
Red-faced Cormorant Cape Nosappu, Hokkaido 30th December 2015
We stopped off nearby to look for Rock Sandpipers, but the rocks they tend to favour were vacant so we had to console ourselves (predictably) with a load of gulls, Black Scoters, Harlequins and a showy Long-tailed Duck nearby.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Onnemoto, Hokkaido 30th December 2015
drake Long-tailed Duck Onnemoto, Hokkaido 30th December 2015
drake Long-tailed Duck Onnemoto, Hokkaido 30th December 2015
We were starting to sweat our rings over Asian Rosy Finch, having again not located them on Cape Nosappu. Therefore, there was only one thing for it, to spend time specifically targeting the species - and Cape Kirtappu is and always has been the guaranteed site. There's some feeders in a pension a couple of km from the lighthouse that seem to deliver the species year in, year out. And thankfully it was here that our quest ended successfully with a flock of about forty birds.

This morning we said goodbye to Lodge Furen and headed south, taking in a Bullfinch nearby on the way (as well as a couple of Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers), stopping off for our last look at the Hokkaido gulls in Akkeshi and then back in Kushiro.
1st-winter Vega Gull Akkeshi, Hokkaido 31st December 2015
1st-winter Slaty-backed Gull Kushiro, Hokkaido 31st December 2015
We're now back on Honshu, with just a couple of days left before we return to grey and stormy Britain. Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading this during 2015.