Japan 2009

Five of us travelled from Heathrow to Tokyo, then on to Osaka on 9/11. At Osaka we took a 2h taxi ride to Kyoto, losing all daylight on the Saturday. We were in Japan for the Symposium on Animal Sonar, the fifth of a series of meetings that are held every decade or so. Marc Holderied and I managed some birding, usually in the early mornings or during lunch breaks. We stayed at the Garden Palace hotel, next to Kyoto Imperial Palace, and so had some decent habitat on our doorstep.We spent our last day (19th) at Nankou Bird Sanctuary near Osaka. I took the 1D3, the 400mm f5.6, and a Canon S5 for snapshots and close-ups. Mark Brazil's new book 'Birds of East Asia' was very useful for identifying birds. Japan has an interesting mix of endemics, some east Asian species, and some species familiar to birders from western Europe. Noticeable was the absence of ground-feeding birds, despite an abundance of lawn habitat. Perhaps the lawns are treated with herbicides, or maybe the abundance of cats deters any ground feeding? Fruitful places in Kyoto proved to be the Imperial Palace gardens (especially the bird bath that attracts lots of bird photographers), the Kama-gawa River and the Botanic Gardens.


Kama-gawa River, Kyoto

Kama-gawa River, Kyoto

Nankou Bird Sanctuary, Osaka.


The unexpected sight of bird photographers at the bird bath, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Several secretive woodland birds would visit here, and the photographers congregated each day to snap them.

Kyoto bird bath

An illustrated list of birds seen follows. Likely new birds for me are in capitals, though I've lost track of my world life list.

1. Mandarin duck. A pair on the lake near Kyoto Conference Centre.


2. Mallard. Several on Kama-gawa River and lake near Kyoto Conference Centre.

3. Eatern spot-billed duck. Several on Kama-gawa River and lake near Kyoto Conference Centre. ca.20 at Nankou.

spot-billed duck

spot-billed duck

4. Little grebe. Kama-gawa River, lake near Kyoto Conference Centre and Nankou.

5. Black-crowned night heron. One on the Kama-gawa River, but apparently more numerous at dusk.

night heron

More Japanese birds

Back to September 2009