November 8, 2015

part nine:

Japanese Waxwing
Bombycilla japonica:
first record for Mongolia

text by Armin Schneider

( links to previous posts: part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 78 )

a. Japanese Waxwing
South of Sumber, Jun2014 © T. Langenberg

Out of the sudden a waxwing turned up and sat nervously on top of a tree. It was the 2nd of June, not the time to expect a waxwing, and hence our alarm bells rang immediately. Although the bird wasn’t that far away from us it took flight before we could identify it. Luckily it sat down on yet another tree, this time unfortunately even more distantly. Thomas was quick enough to take some record shots which enabled us to identify it as Japanese Waxwing, the first for Mongolia. Strike!

For a long time it had been a matter of speculation whether this species would make it onto the Mongolian Bird list. In the Mongolian Redlist (Gombobaatar, S. & Monks, E.M., compilers 2011. Mongolian Red List of Birds. Regional Red List Series Vol. 7. Zoological Society of London, National University of Mongolia & Mongolian Ornithological Society, London & Ulaanbaatar), where almost anything has been uncritically accepted, the sole previous report, actually rather a suspicion, of a Japanese Waxwing (from Mongolia’s Far East) has been doubted as it was not accompanied by any proof.

All pictures here clearly show the ruby red tail tip which is bright yellow in the other species of waxwing recorded in the country: Bohemian Waxwing. Other features which distinguish Japanese Waxwing from its bigger cousin are: no white in the wing (apart from the pale whitish V-fringes on the tips of the primaries), a lot of black in the crest reaching much higher up (picture b) and the here barely visible red line in the wing, created by the tips of the greater coverts (and not by the scapulars; see here).

On picture b the bird can be aged as an adult by applying the same criteria that work for Bohemian Waxwing (see Bohemian Rhapsody). Based on the poor quality of the pictures sexing of this bird remains impossible, however.

Japanese Waxwing breeds in Far Eastern Russia and in extreme northeast China and winters to the south the breeding areas, mainly in Japan, China and the Korean Peninsula.

b. Japanese Waxwing
South of Sumber, Jun2014 © T. Langenberg

c. Japanese Waxwing
South of Sumber, Jun2014 © T. Langenberg

Abu told us that he had been checking hundreds waxwings which winter in UB since several years, but never found a Japanese. Then, during the winter of 2012/2013, there was an invasion which brought Japanese Waxwings as far west as Kazakhstan (see here) and also to the Baikal area (Igor Fefelov, pers. comm.). Much to Abu’s disappointment there were no fruits available in the UB area then, and therefore numbers of waxwings remained extremely small that winter. But now came the happy end for Abu!

That evening we learned to ignore the mosquitoes.

After our “First 4 the country” celebrations we were lucky enough to have a “Second for the country” the very next day, so stay tuned!

1 comment:

egor_13 said...

The time of the record (June) is also interesting.,
Igor F