Gull-watching in Ibaraki on December 23, 1997

The aim of this trip was to make some photographs of L. (a.) vegae for Harry Lehto. We visited the area around Mito. More precisely we birded along the rocky coast of Nakaminato and Oarai on the east of Mito. A kind of rocky outcrop with a coastline of about 10 km length in total. The coast north and south of this partly rocky area consists entirely of dunes and beaches. Nakaminato has a fishing port and attracts gulls. On the way back home we birded along the south coast of the lake Izunuma, south of Mito, a nice not too much developed rural area.

I guess Ikenaga-san learned a dear lesson: never try to take a picture of a Harlequin duck in its own element:-) He nearly got washed away when he tried to approach a drake which was resting at the end of a stone dam.

Participants: Neil Fergusson, Honda Chikako, Ikenaga Hiroshi and Fer-Jan de Vries.
Weather: A cold and dark day. Dry, not too much wind, about 4 degrees Celsius, 100 percent clouds the whole day. Perfect visibility.
Equipment: Two scopes (1 ex Kowa, 40 x), and four binoculars (2 ex Zeiss, 10x40).
Literature: besides various japanese Birdings featuring articles on gulls Ikenaga-san had with him also and in particular the article on Herring gulls by Peter R. Kennerley, Ted Hoogendoorn and Michael L. Chalmers in The 1994 Hong Kong Bird Report.


  1. Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus [Kanmuri-kaitsuburi]
  2. Horned grebe Podiceps auritus [Mimi-kaitsuburi]
  3. Eared grebe Podiceps nigricollis [Hajiro-kaitsuburi]
  4. Little grebe Podiceps ruficollis [Kaitsuburi]
  5. Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo [Kawa-u]
  6. Temminck's cormorant Phalacrocorax filamentosus [Umi-u]
  7. Pelagic cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus [Hime-u]
  8. Mallard Anas Platyrhynchos [Ma-gamo]
  9. Spot-billed duck Anas poecilorhyncha [Karu-gamo]
  10. Green-winged Teal Anas crecca crecca [Ko-gamo]
  11. Gadwall Anas strepera [Okayoshi-gamo]
  12. Common goldeneye Bucephala clangula [Hojiro-gamo]
  13. Tufted duck Aythya fuligula [Kinkuro-hajiro]
  14. Greater scaup Aythya marila [Suzu-gamo]
  15. Harlequin duck Histronicus histronicus [Shinori-gamo]
  16. Smew Mergus albellus [Miko-aisa]
  17. Common merganser Mergus merganser [Kawa-aisa]
  18. Slaty-backed gull Larus schitisagus [Ou-seguro-kamome]
  19. Herring gull Larus (argentatus) vegae [Seguro-kamome]
  20. Siberian gull Larus heuglini taimyrensis [?-kamome]
  21. Thayer's gull Larus thayeri [Kanada-kamome]
    Description of adult winter plumage: Smaller than L. a. vegae with top of head reaching just to the bill of L. a. vegae. Legs without doubt lighter pink than surrounding L. a. vegae. Color of back identical to color of back of L. a. vegae. Streaking as L. a. vegae, perhaps les dark. Head appeared to be very flattened (upside down \___/) so that the distance top of the skul and eyesocket seemed to be relatively little. Yellow bill with red dot on lower mandible. Eye appeared to be dark.

    Discussion: Thayer's gull is supposed to have dark pink legs. (see ID-Frontiers) and picture in "A Guide for Bird Lovers". Nick Lethaby comments: " I don't see anything about this description that suggests a Thayer's Gull. It's essential to study the wing-tip pattern in detail from above and below. Also Thayer's tends to have a rather rounded head shape. The only Thayer's I saw in Japan appeared slightly paler on the mantle than vegae, although vegae is very variable."

  22. Black-tailed gull Larus crassirostris [Umineko]
  23. Glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus [Shirokamome]
  24. Mew gull Larus canus [Kamome]
  25. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus [Yuri-kamome]
  26. Little egret Egretta garzetta [Ko-sagi]
  27. Great egret Egretta alba [Dai-sagi]
  28. Gray heron Ardea cinerea [Ao-sagi]
  29. Coot Fulica atra [Ou-ban]
  30. Dunlin Caladris alpina [Hama-shigi]
  31. Sanderling Crocethia alba [Miyubi-shigi]
  32. Osprey Pandion haliaetus [Misago]
  33. Black kite Milvus migrans [Tobi]
  34. European sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus [Hai-taka]
  35. Rufous turtle dove Streptopelia orientalis [Kiji-bato]
  36. White wagtail Motacilla alba [Haku-sekirei]
  37. Japanese wagtail Motacilla grandis [Seguro-sekirei]
  38. Brown-eared bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis [Hiyodori]
  39. Bull-headed shrike Lanius bucephalus [Mozu]
  40. Daurian redstart Phoenicurus auroreus [Joobitaki]
  41. Blue rockthrush Monticola solitarius [Iso-hyodori]
  42. Siberian meadow bunting Emberiza cioides [Hoojiro]
  43. Black-faced bunting Emberiza spodocephala [Aoji]
  44. Oriental greenfinch Carduelis sinica [Kawarahiwa]
  45. Tree sparrow Passer montanus [Suzume]
  46. Gray starling Sturnus cineraceus [Mukudori]
  47. Carrion crow Corvus corone [Hashiboso-garasu]
  48. Jungle crow Corvus macrorhynchos [Hashibuto-garasu]
The following usually common winter birds were missing: