This blog is for family and friends, to share my feelings and photos with and for myself, to support my fading memory and improve my Japanese. I intend to do some writing in kanji, but am not getting very far without a Japanese computer. So for the moment I say "konnichi wa". Aisatsu dake - just saying hello.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Herons and Egrets at the Kikuchi river 1

In spring when the Ayu, or Sweetfish move upstream to spawn, birds gather at this point in the Kikuchi river, where it drops down a few meters in elevation. They scan the waters near the wall, making slow peddling movements with their feet. There is always a lot of action, as the birds fight fiercely over the best location. It makes me wonder why they don’t stick to an easy diet of rice paddy frogs. I guess this shows my lazy side and Ayu tastes much better. They sure make a good meal at the izakayas!



 コサギ,  Little Egret

コサギ,  Little Egret  and  ダイサギGreat Egret

 Patience and concentration

ゴイサギ,  Black-crowned Night Heron

アオサギ, Grey Heron and ゴイサギ,  Black-crowned Night Heron

Herons and Egrets at the Kikuchi river 2

アオサギ,  Grey Heron

Showing some feather. I don't know if this is a form of display or intimidation. The Herons seemed to tolerate each others present more than the Egrets.

Moving on together

The Grey Herons could stand nearly motionless in the raging waters, allowing me to play with the camera's shutterspeed.

Got One!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Saturday with a friend

When John from Nagasaki came to town we decided to look at the fields around Koga.
The first birds we saw were Grey-headed lapwing, about 4 of them.

ケリ,  Grey-headed Lapwing

Nearby was a pair of Greater Painted-snipe, not in a hurry to leave, so we could watch them mating and performing some display. That was all done very briefly and without much flair. They must have been together for some time...

タマシギ,  Greater Painted-snipe

Greater Painted-snipes, going about their business as they should.

Showing some display afterwards

We drove to Dazaifu where a pair of Japanese Paradise Flycatchers was building a nest from moss, spider webs and ceder bark. The nest was only visible between leaves and branches from a 30cm square patch on the middle of the road, which was most inconvenient. But this is what came out:

サンコウチョウ,  Japanese Paradise Flycatcher

Male, visible because of its blue face markings.

and long tail.

female trying out the softness of the bedding

And that was another good birding day, thanks to John for helping me with his good advice and excellent eye sight. Arigato!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Red-rumped Swallows

That day there was yet another item on our list of birds: Red-rumped Swallows. It was only a few km to their location so we gave it a go and found them busy building nests in a fishing harbor. Their nests are a lot bigger than those of the Barn Swallows. It would have been interesting to follow the birds to see where they found their materials, but time was running out, we had to head back to Fukuoka.

コシアカツバメ,  Red-rumped Swallow

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Plovers and Falcons

When we had enough of the owls we drove to Kirara Nature Park near Ajisu, also in Yamaguchi pref, where Kentish Plovers had hatched and could be seen from inside the visitors center through a set of scopes set up in front of the window. The birds were barely visible, but the chicks, running around the block like cockroaches had us all amused.
シロチドリ,  Kentish Plover

One of the 3 Plover babies, a little dot of grey and white in front of Mum.

Dad watching the family
I was quite impressed with the information displays at the center. Very extensive and thorough. A place I’d like to visit again.

From here we drove back to Kyushu, where we had directions to a Falcon nest on a rocky outcrop near Moji. It took a while and a bit dirt (the car got stuck in the mud and we had to do a bit of off-road climbing) but when we got at eye-level we could see signs of life in a hole in the steepest face of the rock. That means, some of the grey pebbles in there seemed to be moving.

ハヤブサ,  Peregrine Falcon

After half an hour one of the parents flew in with something to eat.

And yes! Again 3 chicks emerged. At first they were only distinguishable by their movements, but little by little we recognized some falcon-like features.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Owls in the rain

A couple of days later we set off again, this time north towards Yamaguchi pref. Following written instructions from a local we entered the Akasaki Temple grounds where 3 young owls were awaiting us in the pouring rain. They had left the nest one by one, the last one just the day before, and were perched nearby, on different branches around the box nest.

フクロ,  Ural Owl

The first one that had left the nest was sitting high up in the upper part of one of the tall trees.

The 3rd and last one was still close to the box nest. 

The 2nd chick, appropriately perched in between, was most active, watching his surroundings, other birds, us.

Munching on something inedible 

Their parents didn't show up. They were probably watching us from the edge of the forest at the back. The owl chicks would join them soon, no doubt. And then they would be lost to our eyes. It felt great, despite the rain, to be here in this place in this small pocket of time, getting a chance to see owl babies!

Saturday, 2 June 2012


After many days of very few birds we finally got lucky.
On Wednesday the 23rd of May birding friends took me to Kumamoto pref. to see Dollarbirds at a very scenic place called Naidaijin at the Midorigawa river. From a bridge we had a good view of a bird perching on a branch at about eye level. Soon another one showed up. 

ブッポウソウ,  Dollarbirds

The male watching his bride showing a little feather.

He frequently flew off to hunt

Coming back with little goodies (insects?) to please her.

The pair sitting together seemed very close, the way they preened and turned their heads in the same way at the same time.

The old bridge was very wobbly and whenever trucks came across it vibrated so much we grabbed the handrail and our cameras in fear! 
After a break for lunch we drove to the Kikuchi gawa river to see herons catching fish. (blog post will be published later) It was a good birding day.