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.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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.
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
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
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.