February 2008


I went for a long walk through the forest and fields near Munakata Common, with my camera at the ready to try to get some shots of Daurian Redstarts (Joubitaki), since there are so many in the area and I’m still not satisfied with my photos. These ones are a little better (maybe!). The first three photos are of a male and the final one is of a female. As you can see, the sexual dimorphism is striking.

By the way, the Daurian (DAW-ree-an) Redstart is named after the Dauria (TransBaikal) region of Russia, as are several other species. More info: here.

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Muscicapidae
English: Daurian Redstart; Japanese: Joubitaki
Scientific: Phoenicurus auroreus

Location: Near Munakata Common (google map here)

I was so pleased with these shots of a little egret (kosagi). I just happened to have the camera on “sports mode” and pre-zoomed to 360mm when the egret flew by, allowing me to get quite close shots of the action! It also oblingingly circled around for a second pass, slightly higher with the blue sky behind. What a kind bird!
(By the way, the black specks on the bird’s feathers are plant seeds.)

Order: Ciconiiformes; Family: Ardeidae
English: Little Egret; Japanese: kosagi
Scientific: Egretta garzetta

Location: near Hyoutan Pond (google map)

This pretty grey wagtail was hopping around in the concrete channel running through the fields near Munakata Common. I took some better photos of a grey wagtail before (here).

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Motacillidae
English: Grey Wagtail; Japanese: kisekirei
Scientific name: Motacilla cinerea 

Location: Munakata

Saw another bull-headed shrike (mozu) today. See previous blog entry here.

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Laniidae
English: Bull-headed Shrike; Japanese: mozu
Scientific: Lanius bucephalus

Location: near Hyoutan Pond (google map)

On my walk today I saw (and heard) quite a few thrushes. The dusky thrush (tsugumi) was in a field and the pale thrushes (shirohara) were in the field and in the forest.

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Turdidae (thrushes)
English: Dusky Thrush; Japanese: tsugumi
Scientific name: Turdus naumanni

English: Pale Thrush; Japanese: shirohara
Scientific name: Turdus pallidus

Location: Near Fureainomori, Munakata (google map here)

Male Daurian Redstarts are such beautiful birds. I’ve seen them every time almost I’ve been out for a walk this winter, but they are proving to be difficult to photograph well. This one waited until I was almost in range, then flew 20m, waited for me to get almost in range, then flew again. And again. And again. I gave up before he did! These are today’s best shots. I’ll keep trying…

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Muscicapidae
English: Daurian Redstart; Japanese: Joubitaki
Scientific: Phoenicurus auroreus

Location: Near Fureainomori, Munakata (google map here)

Walking to the station this morning I managed to grab a shot of this osprey flying above me. I had the camera in my hand and just had time to snap a few shots without adjusting the settings. I wish I could have taken a better shot of my first ever osprey, but it was better than missing it completely!

In my home country (the UK), this species is very rare and, although it has been reintroduced in a few places, there are still only around 150 breeding pairs. Thus it is quite exciting for me to see one, common as it might be in Japan!

Order: Falconiformes; Family: Accipitridae;
English: Osprey; Japanese: Misago
Scientific: Pandion haliaetus

Location: Togo, Munakata: Google map here

Just as I was passing a derelict farmhouse, I spotted a smallish bird in a tree and took a couple of photos between the branches. I couldn’t make out what it was at the time, but found out later that it was a bull-headed shrike (mozu). Birds in the shrike family are insect-eating, but they will also predate lizards and sometimes even small mammals. They are also known to impale their prey on thorns – to help them tear off bite-sized pieces and to act as a kind of foodstore.

Order: Passeriformes; Family: Laniidae
English: Bull-headed Shrike; Japanese: mozu
Scientific: Lanius bucephalus

Location: Near Fureainomori, Munakata (google map here)