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Yacho no Mori, Karuizawa

April 21st, 2007

“Yacho no Mori” is Japanese for “Birds’ Forest.” I’ve seen the name applied to various areas in the Japanese countryside where the birding is good in a wooded area. Today, Sachi and I are in Nagano, and as we had a few hours to kill and a rental car to get us around, we went to Karuizawa’s Bird Forest–something which pleased me, because we didn’t get the chance to stop there when we bicycled through the city last August.

The forest was nice, and we spotted some interesting birds, including one I’d never seen before. But we wound up hearing a lot more birds than we saw–normal for birdwatching, of course. At least three or four times today, I got foiled by what I call “psychic birds,” where the birds just sit there nicely until just before you snap the photo, which they seem to sense psychically as they choose that split second to fly away.

Nevertheless, here are some of the birds we got today:



The above is an Enaga, or Long-tailed Tit. These little guys are as cute as the dickens, but hard as hell to photograph as they flit around so much. There were at least half a dozen flying around in the trees and shooting down to puddles for a bath. These were the best shots I could get–though at one point, one flew within just four or five feet of Sachi and me, settling down for a 2-second bath in the stream right in front of us, before flying off again.

The next bird I’ll show is the last we caught for the day before heading back. It’s a Kakesu, or Eurasian Jay. I got one of these once before in Kasai Rinkai Park, but only then. It’s a pretty bird, with a striking head and pretty blue-barred wings. Sachi and I saw two of them rise up into the trees as we approached, and though one led us on a futile chase, the other happened to be preening just above us, and stayed for long enough to get some nice shots–even if they are from too low an angle. The first of these can be clicked for a larger image:

0407-Eurasian Jay1-450

0407-Eurasian Jay2-450
Taking on a very lion-ish pose…

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…from an angle which was too much backlit, but this shows the wing detail very nicely.

The last I’ll introduce is the bird I have never seen before: The Misosazai, or Winter Wren. This was a bird that we heard before we saw. It has a beautiful song (listen to it here as a WAV file, or as an MP3), and did not seem skittish or shy at all: we followed the bird upstream for maybe 100 feet, and it did not seem the least bit disturbed by our presence. The little guy was charming, being a tiny bird with a short, wagging tail and a cheerful song every so often. Though other birder on the trail seemed politely surprised that we got a glimpse of this bird, I have the feeling that it is quite common–after all, we saw the same bird three times along the trail. The first and last of these images have enlargements when clicked on:




Want to listen to the song it’s singing in that last image? Here it is, in WAV or MP3. (In case the sound files don’t open in your browser, try either downloading the link target, or using another browser.)

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