Andrea and David B. Collinge's trip to Japan, July 2011

Birdlist to 7/8-11: 109 species, 44 lifers - and some sounds to sort! Gallery Specific locations: Yatsu Higata, 30 minutes from Tokyo Station, and on Hokkaido: Kushiro wetland reserve - Kawayu - Nemuru

Central Tokyo is essentially devoid of birds. There are crow (Large-billed), pigons and tree sparrows and the occasional swallow and Black-tailed Gull. The Imperial Palace and area round Budukan Concert Hall gave a few other species (including our only Japanese Whiteeyes of the trip and a flock of White-cheeked Starlings), but the only real birding we found was at Yatsu Higata, 30 minutes by train to the east. This was excellent for waders (mostly too far away for photos) on our visit and gave two lifers: Azure-winged Magpie and Grey-tailed Tatler.

Train trip (sadly the planned ferry was cancelled due to a typhoon - OK under the circumstances!) to Hokkaido: north Honshu and Hokkaido were more bird rich, and we awoke to several trip spp. This "limited express" night train was more user friendly than a Shinkansen (later), but is a little frustrating! Nevertheless we saw both peregrine, kites, gulls and a bull-headed shrike to satisfaction.

Sapporo boasts both botanic gardens and a Historic Village. Both are bird rich and we saw many of the same woodland species both places. A nice lifer was Pygmy Woodpecker at the former and a good view of Eastern Crowned Warbler.

The train journey though Hokkaido to Kushiro goes through varied scenery from farmland through forested mountains, only coast at the end. The highlight was a glimpse of a Brown Dipper in a river below.

Kushiro (23 to 25/7) is the gateway to the east - we visited the huge wetland reserve and crane proejct, and changed trains here for Nemuru 27/ 7 & for Sapporo 29/7. The tour's only Kestrel flew by the 10th floor breafast window, about 3m away.

25-27/7 were spent at Kawayu in the eastern highland region: Click here for our mystery sound (the wazoo whistle, not the obvious birdsong) heard at about 4 am on the dawn forest walk suggested by Mark Brazil! Another nice little videoclip: of a Narcissus Flycatcher

27-28/7 Nemuru, Furen Lake and Cape Nosappu. Both excellent, though disappointed by few waders (only two Grey-tailed Tatlers) all day. Cape Nosappu gave hundreds of Rhinocerous Auklets and a single Tufted Puffin, some dolphins and a couple of small whales. And the tour's only Hobby.

29/7 and 30/7 Added pheasant and Latham's Snipe to the list during the 8 hours train journey across Hokkaido, and Streaked Shearwater as the only seabird seen (about 40 in all) on the 22 hrs crossing from Otaru on Hokkaido to Maizuru on Honshu.

We spent nearly a week in Kyoto from 31/7 to 6/8 - and only saw about 10-15 species a day, total 25 spp, nothing new until 4/8... Birdwise pretty dead. Perhaps the fact that we did not go in for any dawn birding accounts for the lack of observations. The most productive area for us was the river, with up to 15 herons (of 4 spp.) visible just crossing by bus. The Shinkansen trip back to Tokyo yielded masses of egrets including a flock of 22 Cattle Egrets following a plough.

Japan 2011: order according to Mark Brazil: Birds of East Asia. Links to photos by David and Andrea
English name Scientific name Danske navne Japan Kyoto Nemuru Kawayu Hokkaido Tokyo
Hazel Grouse Bonasa bonasia Hjerpe 25/7 Kawayu

25/7 Kawayu

Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Fasan 29/7 nr Chitose

29/7 nr Chitose
Mute Swan Cygnus olor Knopsvane 19/7 Tokyo

19/7 Tokyo
Wigeon Anas penelope Pibeand 23/3 Kushiro

23/3 Kushiro
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Gråand 22/7 Sapporo 1/8 Kyoto 28/7 Nemuru
22/7 Sapporo
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas (poecilorhyncha) zonorhyncha Pletneæbbet And 17/7 Budokan 31/7 Kyoto

21/7 Oshima 17/7 Budokan
Shoveler Anas clypeata Skeand 27/7-11

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula Troldand 19/7 Yatsu Higata

23/3 Kushiro 19/7 Yatsu Higata
Goosander Mergus merganser Stor Skallesluger 27/7 from train at Akkeshi

27/7 Akkeshi. Presumed this species
Streaked (White-faced) Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas Hvidmasket Skråpe 30/7 Sea of Japan

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Lille Lappedykker 17/7 Tokyo 4/8 Kyoto

24/7 Kushiro 17/7 Tokyo
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena Gråstrubet Lappedykker 23/7 Kushiro

23/7 Kushiro
Striated (Little) Heron Butorides striatus Mangrovehejre 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata single
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Nathejre 18/7 Tokyo

18/7 Tokyo 1ad 1imm
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus (ibis) coromandus Østelig Kohejre 17/7 Narita

17/7 Narita
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Fiskehejre 19/7 Yatsu Higata 31/7 Kyoto 28/7 Furen Lake 26/7 Kawayu 2 21/7 Toya 9; 23/3 Kushiro 22 19/7 Yatsu Higata
Great White Egret Ardea alba Sølvhejre 17/7 Narita 31/7 Kyoto

17/7 Narita
Intermediate (Yellow-billed) Egret Mesophoyx (Egretta) intermedia Mellemhejre 17/7 Shisui 31/7 Kyoto. probable

17/7 Shisui. seen from train.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Silkehejre 19/7 Yatsu Higata 31/7 Kyoto

19/7 Yatsu Higata; 20/7 Tokyo
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Skarv 17/7 Tokyo 31/7 Kyoto

21/7 Shiroai 3 17/7 Tokyo; 19/7 Yatsu Higata 12
Japanese (Temminck's) Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus Japansk Skarv 27/7 Nemuru
27/7 Nemuru; 28/7 Cape Nosappu

Pelagic Cormorant Leucocarbo (Phalacrocorax) pelagicus Stillehavsskarv 27/7 Nemuru
27/7 Nemuru; 28/7 Cape Nosappu

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Tårnfalk 24/7 Kushiro

24/7 Kushiro
Hobby Falco subbuteo Lærkefalk 28/7 Furen Lake
28/7 Cape Nosappu

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Vandrefalk 21/7 Aomori

21/7 Aomori
Osprey Pandion haliaetus Fiskeørn 23/3 Ikeda

25/7 Kawayu 23/3 Ikeda
Black-eared Kite Milvus (migrans) lineatus Sort-øret Glente 21/7 Aomori 1/8 Kyoto 28/7 Furen Lake
21/7 Oshima; 23/3 Kushiro 2 21/7 Aomori
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla Havørn 23/3 Kushiro
27/7 Nemuru; 28/7 Furen Lake
23/3 Kushiro
Eastern Marsh-Harrier Circus spilonotus Plettet Rørhøg 26/7 Kushiro

26/7 Kushiro
Eastern Buzzard Buteo (buteo) japonicus Musvåge 25/7 Kawayu

25/7 Kawayu

Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis Japansk Trane 26/7 Kushiro
28/7 Furen Lake
26/7 Kushiro
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus Strandskade 27/7 Nemuru
27/7 Nemuru 5

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Stylteløber 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata 7
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Lille Præstekrave 19/7 Yatsu Higata 5/8 Kyoto ad + young on river close to the station

19/7 Yatsu Higata
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii Ørkenpræstekrave 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata 32
Swinhoe's Snipe Gallinago megala Tajgabekkasin 29/7 nr Nemuru
29/7 nr Nemuru 2 flew up at a station. Clearly pale

Greenshank Tringa nebularia Hvidklire 19/7 Yatsu Higata

23/3 Ikeda 19/7 Yatsu Higata 5
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Tinksmed 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata 10
Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus (Tringa) brevipes Sibirisk Gråklire 19/7 Yatsu Higata
28/7 Furen Lake

19/7 Yatsu Higata 1 alone
Common Sandpiper Actitis (Tringa) hypoleucos Mudderklire 19/7 Yatsu Higata 5/8 Kyoto 2 on river close to the station

19/7 Yatsu Higata 1
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Stenvender 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis Rødhalset Ryle 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata 2 in summer plumage
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus Kærløber 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata single
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris Japanmåge 18/7 Tokyo
27/7 Nemuru
21/7 Oshima; 23/7 Sapporo 18/7 Tokyo 15
Vega Gull Larus vegae Vegamåge 21/7 Oshima

21/7 Oshima; 22/7 Sapporo
Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus Skifermåge 21/7 Hakodate
27/7 Nemuru
21/7 Hakodate; 23/7 Sapporo
Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata Næsehornsalk 28/7 Cape Nosappu
28/7 Cape Nosappu

Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata Toplunde 28/7 Cape Nosappu
28/7 Cape Nosappu

Rock Pigeon Columba livia Klippedue 17/7 Narita 31/7 Kyoto

21/7 Sapporo 17/7 Tokyo
Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis Østlig Turteldue 17/7 Narita 31/7 Kyoto 28/7 Furen Lake 26/7 Kawayu 21/7 Oshima 17/7 Tokyo
White-bellied Green-Pigeon Treron sieboldii Hvidbuget Papegøjedue 26/7 Kawayu

26/7 Kawayu

Northern Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus fugax Orienthøgegøg 27/3 Kushiro

27/3 Kushiro
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus Gøg 23/3 Kushiro
28/7 Cape Nosappu
23/3 Kushiro
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus Skovgøg 25/7 Kawayu

25/7 Kawayu

Pacific (Fork-tailed) Swift Apus pacificus Orientsejler 17/7 Tokyo
27/7 Nemuru 25/7 Kawayu 24/7 Kushiro 17/7 Tokyo 1!
Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipcus kizuki Lille Grå Flagspætte 21/7 Sapporo

21/7 Sapporo Historic Village; 23/3 Kushiro 2
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos (Picoides) leucotos Hvidrygget Spætte 26/7 Kawayu

26/7 Kawayu

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos (Picoides) major Stor Flagspætte 23/3 Kushiro

25/7 Kawayu 23/3 Kushiro
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius Sortspætte 26/7 Kawayu

26/7 Kawayu

Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus Bøffel-hovedet Tornskade 21/7 Toya

21/7 Yoya
Jay Garrulus glandarius Skovskade 26/7 Kawayu

26/7 Kawayu

Azure winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana Blåskade 19/7 Yatsu Higata

19/7 Yatsu Higata 2
Carrion Crow Corvus corone Sortkrage 17/7 Narita 1/8 Kyoto 27/7 Nemuru 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Oshima; Sapporo suburbs 17/7 Narita
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos Stornæbbet Krage 17/7 Tokyo 1/8 Kyoto 27/7 Nemuru
21/7 Oshima; Sapporo colony in Botanic gardens 17/7 Tokyo
Eastern (Japanese) Great Tit Parus (major) minor Østlig Musvit 17/7 Budokan 1/8 Kyoto 28/7 Furen Lake 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo 17/7 Budokan
Coal Tit Parus ater Sortmejse 21/7 Sapporo

25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo
Marsh Tit Poecile (Parus) palustris Sumpmejse 23/3 Kushiro

23/3 Kushiro
Willow Tit Poecile (Parus) montanus Fyrremejse 21/7 Sapporo
28/7 Furen Lake 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo
Sand Martin Riparia riparia Digesvale 21/7 Oshima

21/7 Oshima
Swallow Hirundo rustica Landsvale 17/7 Narita 31/7 Kyoto common breeder. many nest with chicks close to fledging 27/7 Nemuru
21/7 Hakodate 17/7 Tokyo
Asian House-Martin Delichon dasypus Asiatisk Bysvale 23/7 Kamihawa

25/7 Kawayu 23/7 Kamihawa
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica Rødrygget Svale 4/8 Kyoto 4/8 Kyoto

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus Halemejse 21/7 Sapporo

25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo Historic Village: family
Japanese Skylark Alauda japonica Japansk Sanglærke 28/7 Furen Lake
28/7 Furen Lake

Brown-eared Bulbul Ixos (Microselis) amaurotis Kastanjeret Bulbul 17/7 Tokyo one of the most conspicuous passerines 1/8 Kyoto 27/7 Nemuru 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo 17/7 Tokyo
Japanese Bush-Warbler Cettia diphone Japansk Busksanger 23/3 Kushiro

26/7 Kawayu 23/3 Kushiro
Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata Stribbet Græshoppesanger 24/3 Kushiro

24/3 Kushiro
Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella ochotensis Kamkatcha Græshoppesanger 28/7 Furen Lake
28/7 Furen Lake

Black-browed Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps Sortbrynet Rørsanger 23/3 Kushiro

23/3 Kushiro
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis Nordsanger 24/3 Kushiro

24/3 Kushiro 3/1 Saigon
Eastern Crowned-Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus Kronet Lundsanger 21/7 Sapporo 3/8 Kyoto

21/7 Sapporo ´
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus Japensk Brillefugl 17/7 Budokan

17/7 Budokan 2
Goldcrest Regulus regulus Fuglekonge 24/3 Kushiro

25/7 Kawayu 24/3 Kushiro
Nuthatch Sitta europaea Spætmejse 17/7 Budokan
28/7 Furen Lake 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo Historic Village; 23/3 Kushiro 17/7 Budokan
Chestnut-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis Violetrygget Stær 27/7 Nemuru
27/7 Nemuru

White-cheeked Starling Sturnus cineraceus Gråstær 17/7 Budokan
28/7 Furen Lake
21/7 Chitose 7 17/7 Budokan
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis Hvidbuget Solsort 24/3 Kushiro

26/7 Kawayu 24/3 Kushiro
Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus Kurillerdrossel 26/7 Kawayu

26/7 Kawayu

Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia (Erithacus) calliope Rubinnattegal 24/3 Kushiro
28/7 Furen Lake
24/3 Kushiro
Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura Sibiriske Bynkefugl 23/3 Kushiro
28/7 Furen Lake 25/7 Kawayu 23/3 Kushiro 4 families
Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica (latirostris) Brun Fluesnapper 27/7 Kawayu

27/7 Kawayu

Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina Narcissus Fluesnapper 24/3 Kushiro

26/7 Kawayu 24/3 Kushiro
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana Sortbrystet Fluesnapper 4/8 Kyoto 4/8 Kyoto        
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii Asiatisk Vandstær 23/7 Iburi

23/7 Iburi from train
Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans Rødbrun Spurv 23/3 Kushiro

23/3 Kushiro
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Skovspurv 17/7 Tokyo 31/7 Kyoto 27/7 Nemuru 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Oshima; Sapporo 17/7 Tokyo leucistic
Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida Japansk Jernspurv 21/7 Sapporo

26/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo Historic Village
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea Bjergvipstjært 27/7 Kawayu 4/8 Kyoto
27/7 Kawayu

Black-backed Wagtail Motacilla (alba) lugens Hvidvinget Vipstjært 19/7 Yatsu Higata 4/8 Kyoto 28/7 Furen Lake; 28/7 Cape Nosappu 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Hakodate 19/7 Yatsu Higata
Japanese Wagtail Motacilla grandis Japansk Vipstjært
4/8 Kyoto 4/8 Kyoto

Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni Taigapiber 26/7 Kawayu

25/7 Kawayu

Oriental (Grey-capped) Greenfinch Carduelis sinica Brunirisk 17/7 Budokan
27/7 Nemuru; 28/7 Cape Nosappu
21/7 Shiroai; Sapporo 17/7 Budokan
Siskin Carduelis spinus Grønsisken 26/7 Kawayu 3/8 Kyoto
26/7 Kawayu

Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus Langhalet Rosenfinke 23/3 Kushiro

23/3 Kushiro pair
Common (Red) Crossbill Loxia curvirostra Lille Korsnæb 26/7 Kawayu

26/7 Kawayu

Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula Dompap 25/7 Kawayu

25 *& 26/7 Kawayu

Siberian Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides Engværling 26/7 Kawayu

25/7 Kawayu

Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephalus Gråhovedet Værling 21/7 Sapporo
28/7 Cape Nosappu 25/7 Kawayu 21/7 Sapporo
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus Rørspurv 28/7 Cape Nosappu
28/7 Cape Nosappu

Our plans were spoiled by two things: a typhoon scuppered (though not literally) our plans to take the Pacific side ferry to Hokkaido. The Sea of Japan ferry was a please trip but hardly rewarding. We chose not to take the Pacific ferry down for two reasons: the interesting section at the north is passed after nightfall and it lands north of Tokyo, giving a complicated journey to our next destination, Kyoto. Secondly, you need an international drivers permit - this is issued at home (by motoring organisations) is is basically an certified translation of you drivers licence. I have hired cars on 4 continents with my Danish licence over the last 20 years (which says "kørekort" on it) and it simply hadn't occurred to either of us that this would be a requirement in such a well developed country. Although it is stated clearly in the Lonely Planet. Obviously this restricted our plans on Hokkaido - though the train travel was considerably cheaper and relaxing.

Books and maps: we used Lonely Planet and Mark Brazil East Asia guide and a coupl of maps bought at ScanMaps in Copenhagen. Stuart Reeves kindly sent scans of some of the Hokkaido pages from mark Brazil's unobtainable site guide and various reports were perused: Petri Hottola's "East Hokkaido June 2010" and Haynes Miller's Kyoto were both very helpful and Charles Harper's "Easy-Access Tokyo Area Birding Locations" on bird forum were helpful A request to Birdforum in January disillusioned my expectations with respect to Steller's Eagle (I would have thought that the odd yound bird would hang around for the summer. They don't)