Japan – Part 3

  • July 9, 2016 3:42 pm

The final part of my Japanese wildlife blog focuses on the bird life of Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. Kyoto is so different compared to the neat, reserved, business city of Tokyo, it’s more vibrant, and full of temples with little green spaces tucked in everywhere. Down by the river, Grey Herons, Little Egrets and Great White Egrets patrol the shallow waters. Large shadows lurk beneath, curving carp winding themselves slowly around the rocks. Eastern Spot-billed Ducks (Anas zonorhyncha) dabble at the waters edge, rather plain and brown at first glance, but a closer looks reveals an attractive cream eye stripe, a pretty little duck. Walking along the concrete footpath alongside the gently flowing waters I’m amazed to see a large raptor circling overhead, a Black-eared Kite (Milvus lineatus). It glides up to perch on a roof top, surveying it’s urban territory. Back home this is how our Red Kites used to be seen, back when they were common and un-persecuted, cleaning up scraps in our cities.

I visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park for my final photography session, it was hot and intensely humid, the air thick and uncomfortably close. I headed over to a little stream, and found some birds drinking and cooling off. Overhead the familiar ‘zip-zip-zip’ calls of a group of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus), the adults bringing the youngsters down to drink.

Long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus, juvenile, in cherry tree, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Japan

Although incredibly neat and tidy, the park also has areas where the grass grows a little longer around the huge old trees. In a pine tree I find a juvenile White-cheeked Starling (Sturnus cineraceus), just like our own Starling, they are highly social, feeding together on the ground in just the same manner. The adult birds are pied black and white, with white cheeks as the name suggests and a vivid yellow bill. We saw them going to roost near the station too, a noisy flock murmurating around the rooftops, just like their European cousins, then waterfalling down into the trees outside the station as night fell.

White-cheeked Starling, Sturnus cineraceus, juvenile perched on pine tree, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

Then the bird I’ve been waiting for. Regular readers (thank you!) will know just how much I love our sadly declining European Turtle Dove. Well, Japan has it’s own version, the Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis). By contrast this bird is common, strolling boldly around the parks in a way that our native Turtle Dove cannot. There are subtle differences between the two closely related species, the oriental dove is darker, it’s feathers a deeper browner hue, and it’s larger, bigger overall and not quite as sleek and slim as our own. It’s call is very different, a gentle cooing very similar to a Collard Dove, nothing like the musical purring of our European dove. To me it was stunning to see them, so many, so common, so relaxed. It was a delight to watch eight of these beautiful birds forging in the deep shade of the old trees, a pleasure to see a species doing well, but with a twinge of sadness remembering that back home, our own beautiful dove is having such hard time.

Oriental Turtle Dove, Streptopelia orientalis, feeding in long grass, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

Oriental Turtle Dove, Streptopelia orientalis, standing in grass, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

Oriental Turtle Dove, Streptopelia orientalis, bathing in stream, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

Taking a break in the marginally cooler shade of the cherry trees, a tiny movement catches my eye. Olive green and difficult to spot amongst the foliage, a flash of intense yellow, and then finally in my viewfinder, a startling white eye-ring. This is the Japanese White-eye, (Zosterops japonicus), so unlike anything we have in the UK. The colour of it’s back matching the lush green leaves like a chameleon, only giving itself away with a flash of it’s beautiful buttery yellow throat, and weird white spectacles. This tiny bird is about the size of our Goldcrest, and this particular individual spent a long time attempting to swallow this large cherry. Fruit is a big part of this omnivorous bird’s diet in the summer.

Japanese White-eye, Zosterops japonicus, perched in cherry tree, eating cherry, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

My last photos are of our constant companions. Wherever we went in Japan there were these little birds, incessantly chirping and reminiscent of home. Sparrows, they can be found almost anywhere, the shrubs outside our hotels, the bushes near the rivers, looking for crumbs near the temples, and here in the park too. But these are Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) again, uncommon in the UK, so such a treat to see them up close. Such a handsome little bird.

Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, perched on a rock, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, perched on a rock, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto, Japan

I had a wonderful time in Japan, and would love to visit again one day! There is so much wildlife to explore, even in a country as densely populated as this. I could easily spend months photographing in this friendly place, a fantastic experience.

 

(Click images to view larger…)

If you like what you see, please consider sharing!


UK & Eire Natural History Bloggers

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DawnMonroseNaturePhotography

Staying home

  • February 24, 2015 8:34 pm

I’m very fortunate to live near some lovely countryside, with two small nature reserves just a few minutes walk away from home. This weekend I decided to explore these instead of heading to the Fen. The closest reserve is an area of heathy common, with short rabbit grazed turf, and prickly gorse bushes. There’s a boggy area with a small stream, where I found a Little Egret hunting. I watched as he paddled in the shallow water stalking and striking his prey. He wandered up the bank and paused in the frost to take a look at me, before moving off back to the stream to resume hunting.

Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, in frost, Norfolk, Winter

I watched for a while longer, but the first dog walkers of the day appeared, so I headed over to the other little reserve, and area of wet meadow. This is such a contrast to the common, open, lush and green. Incredibly peaceful in the early morning sunshine, I sat and watched as the frost slowly melted. Flights of Woodpigeon crossed the vast blue sky, and a team of quacking ducks circled overhead. A male Reed bunting balanced atop a reed stem watching me. Definitely well worth exploring, hopefully I’ll get the time to get to know the local wildlife a bit better!

Back in the garden this Collared dove sat on the fence…

Collared dove, Streptopelia decaocto, perched on garden fence, Norfolk,

(Click images to view larger…)

If you like what you see, please consider sharing!


UK & Eire Natural History Bloggers

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DawnMonroseNaturePhotography

Current favourite books, click for more info:




 

Hello Deer

  • January 4, 2015 9:32 pm

I’ve had a few new visitors to my blog recently, so I just wanted give you a warm welcome to my website, and also to introduce my local patch, where I do a lot of my photography – Redgrave and Lopham Fen.

Redgrave and Lopham Fen is the largest remaining valley fen in England, and managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The reserve encompasses not just fenland, but woodland and heath too. It’s a peaceful haven for me, having lived in the area for around 20 years I’ve grown up here, walking the tracks that criss cross the reserve and watching the amazing wildlife. For the wildlife, this place is an oasis in the agricultural vastness of the surrounding fields. The river Waveney rises here, although there’s not much to see at it’s source, just a boggy area and flooded scrape patrolled by Grey Herons, and dabbled by Teal in winter.

There’s something to see year round, but winter is a favourite time to visit for me, the frost crystallised on the reeds and clear cold sky, and often I have this tranquil place to myself. This morning I paused to watch a group of Long-tailed tits foraging in the brambles, and when I walked a little further a movement ahead made me stop. It was a Roe deer, the youngster from the group of three I photographed earlier in the week, she was so close, and hadn’t yet noticed me. Carefully and quietly setting up the camera, I waited and watched, fully expecting her to sense me and bound away, but in the cold still air she couldn’t smell me, and maybe if I stay still she won’t see me. She turned, nibbling on bramble leaves, and focussing manually for quietness and the distracting branches, I took her picture.

Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus, youngster in hedgerow, Norfolk, January, Winter

Roe deer have to be my favourite deer species, such elegance and grace, and such a privilege to observe one so closely. Amazingly the sound of the camera shutter didn’t spook her, and she started to move towards me. Just the other side of the brambles, just a few meters away. So close I could hear each dainty hoof-step on the frozen leaves layered on the ground. She passed by, and waiting until she had moved off, we went our separate ways.

The birds were very busy, and despite the fact it’s only January a pair of Blue tits were investigating a potential nest site. A tantalising glimpse of spring.

Bluetit040115DM2875

The Bearded tits whizzed across the path, not pausing for a photo today, but as ever, lovely to see. Walking back, a reminder that it is still winter, a dried umbellifer sparkling with the frost.

Frosted plant, Norfolk, Winter, January

I noticed a Fieldfare paying close attention to a Molehill, and after a few moments I realised why – the mole was busy rearranging his home, pushing soil up to the surface and no doubt insects or worms too, hence the attraction to the Fieldfare. Short video here: Mole in the Molehill.

 

(Click images to view larger…)

If you like what you see, please consider sharing!


UK & Eire Natural History Bloggers

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DawnMonroseNaturePhotography

Current favourite books, click for more info:




Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: