Friday, 7 January 2022

Heavy Snow (no bird🐦)

An unusual heavy snowfall surprised people in Tokyo and around the metropolitan area on the 6th January 2022 and it transformed the area into winter wonderland⛄❄

Saturday, 11 September 2021


Tree Sparrows started gathering on the other side of a stream flowing into the lake well before sunset. The number was soaring to a few thousand or possibly over ten thousand. It's a pity that we couldn't quite capture the number and the noise in the video as we were unable to reach their roosting site.

Egrets were flying in in all sort of flock sizes alongside the stream before and after sunset. Many of them were Eastern cattle egrets (Amasagiアマサギ) and Intermediate egrets (Chusagiチュウサギ) but we saw Great egrets (Daisagiダイサギ) and Little egrets (Kosagiコサギ) mixed with them. Grey herons (Aosagiアオサギ) and Black-crowned night herons (Goisagiゴイサギ) seemed loners (and not many in numbers), flying on their own freely:)

Although it was time for sunset, there weren't as many swallows as we had hoped. 

Just one here, one over there, flying over our heads. We nearly gave up and headed back home.


Suddenly, out of nowhere, here they came. 

Hundreds or even thousands of them were everywhere, over the water, over the reeds, high in the sky, literally all around us.





The light was so dim my camera couldn't capture the spectacle quite as well as I hoped but you may be able to get the gist. 

We were happy to experience this seasonal wonder of nature again💓

Friday, 10 September 2021

Early September in Imbanuma

 It could be a bit too late, we thought, but nevertheless, we headed for Imbanuma to see if Barn swallows (Tsubameツバメ) still use the reedbeds for their roost. 

(we went to see them in 2019 and wrote about it here.)

Before getting dark, we enjoyed the calm September afternoon.

Exclusive Cormorant club😂 (Kawauカワウ)

Cormorant & Egret joint club 

a lone Coot (Oobanオオバン) - Is it a very early one or has it stayed throughout the summer here?


Three terns were flying over the edge of the other side of the lake and perched on the poles.

Were they Whiskered terns (Kuroharaajisashiクロハラアジサシ)? too far to see the details.

One Osprey (Misagoミサゴ) was perching on a pole when we got there and was still there when we left the place a few hours later.

Young Black-crowned night herons (Goisagiゴイサギ) were playing hide & seek😁


They really are hard to spot!

There weren't many ducks apart from resident Spot-billed ducks (Karugamoカルガモ).  

A Pintail (Onagagamoオナガガモ) was foraging among them. 

Is this individual in eclipse plumage? or a juvenile? or a female? 

Now the sun was just over the horizon. Show time!

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Summer 2021

As we decided to move, and as we found a house we liked sooner than we had thought, our summer was quite busy, no, hectic rather! So, there wasn't time to go birding at all during the ridiculously hot months (and the pandemic situations, family situations and work, etc, etc...). 

Finally, our stuff has been kind of put in the cupboards/bookshelves/chest of drawers and we found a little time to explore the area.

One of the biggest heronries in Chiba-shi is only 10 minute walk from our new home!

A single Black-crowned night heron (goisagiゴイサギ) chick sitting quietly on its rather messy😆 nest

Young Grey herons (Aosagiアオサギ) brothers/sisters

Squabbling Great egrets (Daisagiダイサギ) 

We will come down to this pond regularly to find out more👍

Tuesday, 6 April 2021


We stayed overnight on Miyake-jima between the ferry rides and while on the island, we spent some time, of course!, on birding.

Japanese White-eye (Mejiroメジロ) 

They are called Shichito-mejiro(シチトウメジロ), considered as a subspecies of the Japanese white-eye found in mainland Japan.

Varied tit (Yamagaraヤマガラ)

The lodging we stayed in had a bird friendly garden, which had a few feeders and a birdbath. Lovely!

The Varied tit is also a subspecies and called the Owston Yamagara(オーストンヤマガラ). Unlike the white-eye, the varied tit shows obvious differences. The ones we see in Chiba have a white forehead, nape and cheeks whereas the Owston's is orange-brown in those parts. I found the calls are a bit different too.

Oriental (Grey-capped) greenfinch (Kawarahiwaカワラヒワ)

Mr Minowa, our guide, said that these greenfinch are likely to be a subspecies called Oo-kawarahiwa (オオカワラヒワ), which are wintering here and soon going back to places like Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. Oh dear, I don't think I could follow all of the subspecies!

Japanese Robin (Komadoriコマドリ)

The Japanese robin on mainland Japan is a summer bird but the subspecies found in the Izu Islands are residents and called Tane-komadori(タネコマドリ). The obvious difference is that Tane-komadori lacks a black band between its orange breast and pale grey belly. Their songs are beautiful and they start singing well before the dawn just like the European robin, although the Tane-komadori doesn't sing during the winter.

Japanese pygmy woodpecker (Kogeraコゲラ)

【Warning】 Another subspecies!😂
Miyake-kogera(ミヤケコゲラ) are a subspecies of the Japanese pygmy woodpecker only found in the Izu islands and Yaku-shima but it is almost impossible to tell the difference by sight.

Japanese Woodpigeon (Karasubatoカラスバト)

No more subspecies, phew.

The Japanese woodpigeon is only found in islands in the far eastern region. Its extremely secretive and nervous character makes it very difficult to spot them even though their calls are often heard. It would be lucky if you spot them flying very fast between hills or over the canopy but we were truly lucky to see one in a tree. 

We had 8 target birds to see on the island - Izu thrush, Ijima's leaf warbler, Japanese woodpigeon, Owston's varied tit, Wren (subspecies), Japanese robin, Japanese white-eye, Japanese pygmy woodpecker - and thanks to our wonderful guide, Mr Minowa, we had a great view of each of them.


The map shows the locations of the Izu Islands and ferry routes.

You can visit the page of our trip to Hachijo-jima in 2014 by clicking here ↓

Hachijo-jima 1

Hachijo-jima 2 

Hachijo-jima 3

Monday, 5 April 2021


During a ferry trip to the Izu Islands, we saw our first Short-tailed Albatrosses (Ahodoriアホウドリ)!

The left one is a young Short-tailed albatross with a Laysan albatross (Ko-ahodoriコアホウドリ) (the smaller white headed one on the right).

I wish I could have taken photos of them flying gracefully but got too excited to take my eyes off them every time they were close to the ship.

These are Black-footed albatrosses (Kuroashi-ahodoriクロアシアホウドリ), which are breeding on some of the islets and islands in the Izu Islands, so we saw more of them than the other two albatrosses species.

Streaked shearwaters (Oomizunagidoriオオミズナギドリ) are the most abundant species in the area and can be seen almost all the way to Hachijo-jima Island. 

There is no photo but we saw Parasitic & Long-tailed skuas, Japanese murrelets, Leach's storm petrels, Black-tailed gulls, Japanese cormorants and a Grey heron (Aosagiアオサギ).

The trip was led by an excellent guide, Mr Minowa, who is an ornithologist, naturalist and wildlife illustrator. It was fascinating to know about seabirds and actually see them in their element.


Mr Minowa's new book―"The Handbook of Seabirds" has detailed information with pictures of all the seabirds which are likely to be seen around Japan. Very handy indeed!