Mid December, just back to Tokyo after an exhilarating (and exhausting) trip to Antarctica (Posts to follow) i heard news of a drake Baer’s Pochard showing in some park in central Tokyo. After some research and with the help of fellow Birdwatcher Mark i found out that the park was located just 10 mins by bicycle from my place, an absolute treat !
The Baer’s Pochard is an East Asian duck that breeds mostly in North-east China, and whose population crashed spectacularly over the last two decades, to the point it got listed to Critically Endangered status by the IUCN 2 years ago. In that context, any sighting of this bird anywhere is a major draw for Birdwatchers and photographers alike, since it is feared that ongoing economic development in China and the subsequent damage to the few remaining breeding sites will lead to the extinction of the bird in the wild within a decade.
The next morning i made my way to the park and found a good crowd of birdwatchers and photographers, but the bird did not turn up. I revisited the park whenever possible, and also other ponds in the surroundings but to no avail. On the next week-end we went with Mark birdwatching different locations in the Kanto area, and found some nice birds such as Baikal teal or a female RInged-neck Duck, a vagrant from America, but the Pochard remained elusive. I then came back to France for Christmas, just to learn that the Pochard had reappeared at the same pond !
Upon my return to Tokyo i started revisiting the pond, and finally, only at my 9th attempt, i found the much looked-after duck in sleeping mode among a flock of Common Pochards and Tufted Ducks. I spent as much time as i could that day taking pictures, as the location, a small pond in the midst of a Japanese-style garden, was allowing great views with good light and background of the Pochard.
Here are some pictures i took of the Baer’s Pochard, together with other birds that i found in the same park or other parks in Tokyo and Kanto area
During a cruise around Svalbard there aren’t so many different species to see : max 30 different birds (we saw 25), up to 6 seals including walrus, over 10 species of whales and dolphins are possible but you won’t see half of them, and then Polar bear, Arctic fox and Reindeer. But the scenery, the light, and the fact that most species are relatively approachable provides unequaled photographic opportunities, 24 hours a day, quite an exhilarating experience indeed.
Here is a selection of pictures of those other animals that we were happy to shoot when no polar bear (and no walrus) was around. Please enjoy and feel free to comment !