Yonaguni-jima Trip Report (April 12 – 17) and other rarity reports from Japan

Bird News from Yusuke Umegaki

Yonaguni-jima (Okinawa Prefecture), an island which belongs to the Yaeyama Islands, is the westernmost island of Japan and is actually closer to Taiwan (only about 110km distant). Regarding geographical characteristics, many vagrants from South East Asia and Taiwan are recorded on the island, such as the national first Philippine Duck, Streaked Reed Warbler, Black-naped Monarch, etc.

A 6-day trip to Yonaguni-jima in mid-April turned out to be a very fruitful and enjoyable one, with 121 species seen on the island. A list of notable species are shown below.

Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi 1 seen briefly flying into the woods on 16th. While Malayan Night Heron is scarse on the island (only a few pairs breed, I suppose), Japanese is a regular spring migrant.

Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus Fewer than every year, with only 1 each seen on 15th and 16th.

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes 1 in breeding plumage on 17th

Garganey Anas querquedula At most 4 (including 3 males) were seen during the stay.

Garganey Anas querquedula © Yusuke Umegaki

Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 1 on 15th.

Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius 1 on 16th. The individual seemed to be present on the island from at least the beginning of April.

Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus A regular spring visitor to the island, with the high count usually being around end of March. This year the species was ca 2 weeks late, with 18 seen on 13th seeming to be the maximum count for the season.

Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus © Yusuke Umegaki

Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus © Yusuke Umegaki

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos 1 in breeding plumage on 13th. Although not rare in autumn, I haven’t heard of any spring record from the island.

Little Curlew Numenius minutus 7 on 15th. 1-2 seen on other dates as well.

Little Curlew Numenius minutus © Yusuke Umegaki

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus 1 briefly and distantly observed, and very poorly digiscoped on 14th. The bird was at the edge of woods beside an open grassland, and was seen flapping its wings in the rain about 300 meters distant from a car road. On 15th the bird was again seen briefly flying overhead. This is the second photographed record of the species from the island.

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus © Yusuke Umegaki

Himalayan Swiftlet Collocalia brevirostris A rare but regular spring visitor to the island, with reports of sightings ranging from end of March to probably June. 1 seen on 12th and 13th, among a flock of only 2-3 Pacific Swift and 5+ Barn Swallow (!).

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 3 on 13th, 1 on 16th.

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops © Yusuke Umegaki

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola 1 beautiful male was seen on 13th and 14th.

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola . © Yusuke Umegaki

White Wagtail Motacilla alba personata 1 was seen on 14th and 15th, following the presumably different bird seen ca 2 weeks before.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta 1 in winter plumage seen on 13th among a large flock of Yellow Wagtail and Red-throated Pipit is the second record of the species from the island, with the first one recorded only a week before (6th April; summer plumage). This is ca. the fifth or sixth (or are there a bit more?) record of the species from Japan.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta © Yusuke Umegaki

Chinese Blackbird Turdus (merula) mandarinus Another regular spring visitor to the island, with the peak being regularly end of March. 1 male seen on 14th, with another one seen by other watchers on the same date.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus 1 beautiful adult male seen very briefly by YU on 15th, though very regretfully not photographed. Although the bird was seen only above its belly disturbed by evergreen tree leaves, ID was straightforward based on overall sulphate blue coloration including belly and black in front of eye. There are only 2 previous records from Japan.


Other rarities reported from Yonaguni-jima this season include:

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus  1 photographed on 20th April.

Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus  1 female photographed at the end of March.

Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea  1 seen and photographed on 10th – 11th April.


Other rarities from Japan this season are:

White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis  1 in breeding plumage was found and photographed in Hokkaido 21st May. This is the third national record, following Aug 2006 (Kanagawa) and Aug 2011 (Niigata), and the first spring record.

Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis  1 was photographed on Taira Island, Tokara Isles, on 5th May. This is the second or third national record, with the first being 1 seen (and not photographed) on Yonaguni Island Apr 2010.

Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina  1 male was photographed on Taira Island 26th April. The bird was present until 28th. This is the first national record from Japan.

Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis  1 male was photographed on Ishigaki Island 7th April. This is the second national record, following a male photographed on Tobishima Island 14th – 15th May 2011.

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