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In a new venture for the Christmas season, the meeting of the Bird Club at Bamburgh in December was a much more informal one.
Four members described birding holidays taken in 2017, while mulled wine and mince pies were served to the audience in the interval.
The meeting opened with Alison and Stewart McCormick reliving their trip to Japan. They travelled across the country from Kyushu in the South to Hokkaido in the North. Arriving in Tokyo, their first bird watch was on the main island of Honshu. Woodland walks were rewarded with Japanese woodpecker, pygmy woodpecker, Daurian redstart, Pallas’s rosefinch, and copper and Japanese green pheasant.
They also visited the volcanic region where the famous macaques, or ‘snow monkeys’, bathe in the hot water pools.
Leaving the snow of the Japanese Alps behind, they moved south to the warmer island of Kyushu. Here, one of the main attractions was the hooded cranes overwintering on rice stubble.
On a pelagic trip they also saw the rare and tiny Japanese murrelet.
The last part of the trip meant heading for the winter cold of Hokkaido at -20C, where they were rewarded with the highlight of the trip, watching the beautiful Japanese red-crowned cranes performing their fantastic dancing routines in the misty, freezing dawn.
Superb photographs accompanied the talk.
John Lumby then took us to tropical Sabah in Northern Borneo.
John had hoped to see the Borneo bristlehead, but this rarity of the tree tops escaped him.
He did see many of the 13 species of kingfisher and eight species of hornbill, along with sunbirds, spiderhunters, bulbuls and trogon.
After refreshments, Richard Poyer talked about the trip to Bulgaria made by 16 club members.
The first three days were spent in the north, where the highlight was standing on the Kaliakra peninsula, watching pallid harrier, honey buzzard, Levant sparrowhawk, booted eagle and hobby. The passerines were also interesting, with red-breasted flycatcher and red-backed shrike.
Moving south there were good views of black tern, Montagu’s harrier and little owl.
All too soon we were heading back for the UK after a trip full of bonhomie, birds and wine.