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More Birding in Japan

February 26th, 2005

Despite it being a cold, overcast day, I decided to trek out to the Tama River and the local area for a few hours today in order to do a bit more birding, and I was rewarded with some rather interesting birds. First, among the more common, was the Black-backed Wagtail (sometimes called the White Wagtail), a bird I have seen about for quite some time, but have never been able to photograph well, mostly from its skittish nature. It has a striking black-and-white contrast. Today I found it mostly at the riverbank, usually on the concrete levees. Most of the photos are a bit fuzzy because I had to use the digital zoom, beyond the 10x optical zoom, sometimes up to 32x, in order to get the best shot.




Another common bird was this one–but despite a long search on the Internet, I cannot find its identity. To anyone seeing this, if you know what it is, let me know. They’re all around, in town and on the river. [Update: Andrew from Fujisawa correctly identified them as Gray Starlings. Thanks, Andrew!]



But I should find out sometime later this week–I plan on buying “A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan,” which seems to be the only really useful guide book out there–at least one that seems to have an English version (hopefully) to it. Amazon in the U.S. lists prices for the book up to $300 or so–I have no idea why, maybe collector’s editions or something. In Japan, the book as currently published is just over 3000 yen.

A bird I have seen around from time to time, but not quite so often, is the Little Egret.




The ducks were out on the river, of course, but I saw two new kinds today: the Teal (or Common Teal), and the Eurasian Wigeon (below), which looks like the Pochard, but has white feathers on the front of its head.




The biggest surprise, however, was a flock of largish black birds resting on the shore of a small island in the middle of the river. At first I took them for crows, but as their larger size became apparent and I realized crows don’t really do the river scene, I thought they might be a breed of black ducks. Even when I photographed them, I was unsure what they were–the small viewer on the back of my camera didn’t give up quite enough detail, and since my hands were freezing in the very, very cold wind on the river, I was not in the position to study it much. But on later review at home, the breed became apparent: they were Cormorants–a flock of Great Cormorants, in fact. Again, since I had to use the digital zoom due to the distance, the shots are far from crisp–but the Cormorants are distinctly identifiable.




So add another six species to the list. Of course, it’s always easy at the start.

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  1. Andrew
    February 27th, 2005 at 08:20 | #1

    I’m really enjoying all the birding photos, Luis! I’m jealous that you’ve got so many different species in your area. I live in Fujisawa and there aren’t any decent places near here at all (that I know of). Today is the first day off I’ve had since I bought my Lumix FZ20 two weeks ago, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to get outside and snap off a few shots in my local park. Can’t wait to test that 12x zoom!

    The bird you weren’t sure of is a Gray Starling. We also get heaps of them round here, so I’m pretty familiar with that one. I haven’t seen that teal before though. What a beautiful bird! BTW, I highly recommend the book you mentioned, “A Field Guide To The Birds Of Japan.” Can’t remember how much I paid for mine but it’s well worth it.

    Looking forward to your next pics!

  2. Luis
    February 27th, 2005 at 11:24 | #2

    Hey, you’re right! Gray Starling. It was in the pages I looked at for reference, but the photos there were not very good for identification.

    As for variety, the trick is to go to water. Parks are good, probably forests would work, but water is where you really see more variety. Is there a park with a large pond nearby? A lake? A river?

    As for the Field Guide, did you get it in an English or bilingual version? I want to order it from Amazon-Jp, but I’m not sure what language I’d be getting…

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