Sunday, April 18, 2010


Sunrise on April 16 2010. No matter how sleepy I am, a look at a beautiful radient sunrise fully wakes me up and gives me the strength to start another brand-new day.

Shopping bag

See this is how I play with it.

Love to play in a shopping bag.

I've found a new toy! I love to play in a shopping bag. It's fun!

The Pond 10 days from then

This photo was taken on April 18 2010. Ten days after the last one.

The Pond

This photo was taken on April 8 2010. The surface was still covered with ice. Snow had melted only around the rim facing south.

Male Reed Bunting

This was taken on May 20 2009. This is how the nuptial plumage of a male Reed Bunting looks like. However, this individual still has brown head feathers among black color. The head plumage should be shiny solid black when a male is fully ready to breed.

Male Reed Bunting

This photo was taken April 20 2009. This individual seemed to have just arrived here after a long journey probably from somewhere in Southeast Asia or southern China. He looked exhausted. The head turns almost black in breeding season. The head of this individual, however, remained brown. The head color change rapidly when the male becomes ready to breed.

Grey Starling

Grasses and herbs are growing rapidly. Now snow is reduced to small patches in shady areas. A Grey Starling (Sturnus cineraceus) is walking between the passing winter and the approaching spring. To me, April in Hokkaido is really an undefined season. It is not exactly winter, nor full-fledged spring. It is really somewhere in between. Transient birds are traveling northward hurriedly. To them, this season is neither winter nor spring. True spring awaits them in their homeland in Siberia. To the birds intending to breed here, this is the period during which they do a lot of waiting for the right weather and regaining the strength for breeding.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pintails, pintails and pintails

Right now, we see so many pintails around here. Just as swans, they also move further north probably near or in Siberia to breed. Most of them have already been paired up.

Japanese Cormorants grounded

A flock of Japanese Cormorants were grounded due to strong winds and turbulant water. Notice that their feathers on the head are all ruffed up? Whitish head means that they are in nuptial plumage, that is, they are ready to breed.

A Bewick's Swan

This is a Bewick's. As you can see, the area of the yellow part on the bill is smaller. The body size of the Bewick's Swan is somewhat smaller than that of the Whooper, but the size is not a good identification clue.

A Whooper Swan Resting

The swans are still around! This photo was taken on April 11, 2010. How to ID a Whooper from Bewick's? The yellow part on the bill is larger (exceeding half of the length of the bill) in the Whooper Swan. The yellow part on the bill in the Bewick's Swan is smaller than half the length.

Ain't I good-looking?

Something I love... the reflection of myself on anything shiny.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Willow buds blooming!

One of my favorite spring events is the blooming of willow flowers. This cotton-ball-like emerging buds will soon elongate and male flowers with yellowish pollen will stick out among the silver hair. The amount of pollen is so enormous that the ground underneath willow trees often gets yellow all over. Pollen produced this time is also a great food source for insects, mammals and birds. Pollen is a precious source of protein and minerals in early spring when other food is yet too scarce.

The Great Tit

Despite the chilling in the morning, birds are becoming active. A male Great Tit peeked in one of my nest boxes. The tit looks quite "bald" in the back of his head.

Frost in spring

It was quite cold this morning. The lowest was -3.5C. When I was getting into my car, I noticed the windshield was frozen. Took me more than 5 minutes to thaw the ice before I could get out of the driveway. Notice the color of the sky reflected on the glass is deeper blue than it used to be a month ago?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A pair of Whooper Swans

This photo was taken in a cultivated field about 25km from Sapporo on April 4, 2010. Around this time of the year, swans and geese visit this area for stopovers. I counted more than 200 swans and about 10 Greater White-fronted Geese. In a few weeks time, they gradually move north on the Island of Hokkaido and travel further north to their breeding grounds in Siberia.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good feeding grounds for swans and geese

Water-logged fields are very good feeding grounds for waterfowl. Plenty of food and safe from predators.

Swans getting ready for their journey back to Siberia

The swans found in Lake Utonai begin to move northward to the countryside north of Sapporo. There they feed on roots and shoots from rice plant stumps. They will soon migrate back to Siberian wetlands, where they breed.

Out in the country

The countryside is still covered with blanket of snow, though the blanket is getting thinner and thinner every day. In other parts, you see mosaics of bare earth and snow cover.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hey, don't you think I'm quite an athlete?

I also looove to hang upside down. You humans can't do this, can you? :)

The Toyohira River

Although there are some patches of snow left here and there. They, too, will go away soon. The tips of trees began to change colors, which means buds are beginning to swell.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Throw me the orange one!

I looove to play with toys! I never miss catching the balls and throwing them far away so that my "servant" runs and gets them back to me. I'm giving her a good excercise that way.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lake Utonai Birds (5)

Oh, yes. There were also very naughty and curious Jungle Crows. It is quite probable that this individual is a female. Pls view my previous posts on sexing crows.

Lake Utonai Birds (4)

I could see more than ten Whooper Swans. Some of then were banded.

Lake Utonai Birds (3)

Bewick's Swans were also there. I love their white plumage!

Lake Utonai Birds(2)

A male European Wigeon. This photo was taken on March 28th 2010. The ground was still frozen.

Lake Utonai Birds (1)

I had a chance to visit Lake Utonai. This photo was taken on the March 28th 2010. It was very cold and snowing. There were about 35 to 50 pintails. They were all ruffed up and sleeping most of the time.