Winter Bird Season is Back!

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A female black-faced bunting (Emberiza spodocephala) stopped for a photo. 

Saturday was an utterly beautiful day and I had my new Olympus lens, so I went for a short bike ride to a couple of parks in the area to see what birds I could find. The black-faced bunting above came out of thick forest for only a moment.

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A male common pochard on the Kita Senri pond.

In the winter many ducks from northern China and Siberia winter in Kansai. The common pochard (Aythya ferina) has a huge range from the UK and Sweden to Mongolia and Siberia. You can see the stark contrast between males and females.

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A female common pochard

Several photographers with bigger lenses than mine were throwing bread to the birds to get them to come closer to shore. The bright sunshine allowed us to take some brilliant photos. The tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) is a close relative of the pochard and has even a larger range.

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A male tufted duck.

It was fun to watch the female follow the male northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata) all around the lake. They are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Their specialized bills allow them to comb the water for invertebrates other ducks cannot get.

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A female northern shoveler behind the male. 

I also saw a pair of great cormorants in another nearby pond. I have to go see the traditional fishermen that use the birds to catch fish for them here in Japan. They both had more of a summer plumage of white heads, which is strange to see in January.

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