Ainoshima is about 90 minutes by car and ferry from my home in Dazaifu. It is also known as Cat Island because of the many stray cats that roam the island, especially in the port town. It is a popular destination for cat lovers, and I saw and met some foreigners from America, Korea, and China.
This cat was accidentally kicked by me as I was walking and making adjustments to my camera! This is his disgruntled walk. I am very sorry, cat.
The ferry, Shingu, I came over on from Shingu Port. It took about 20 minutes and cost 460 yen, one way. There were rolled up bags with a small sign just below that read “barf bags” in English, hanging from posts inside the main cabin. Ha!
Some of the fishing boats docked in the harbor. Ainoshima has a population of around 500, and most of them are fishermen with their families.
One of the many small shrines I came across as I walked around the island. It is about 5 or 6 kilometers around Ainoshima.
One of the natural attractions of Ainoshima is Megane Rock; Glasses Rock in English. Quite a few fishing enthusiasts were on the ferry today, it being Sunday, and they all headed for their favorite spot as they got off the ferry, pulling their gear behind them on two-wheeled carts or in backpacks. This fisherman sure picked a beautiful spot. Note: Not even one car passed me on the road as I hiked around Ainoshima. Only people on foot or on bicycles. Nice!
This black kite, or tonbi in Japanese, was not very shy, and I was able to get rather close. The black kite is a common sight in Japan, especially along the coastlines.
Actually, I did not see that many birds, though I heard a few songs and calls I was not familiar with. This Japanese white eye was one of a flock that was sipping nectar from the cherry blossoms. I noticed the white rings around all their eyes were lacking mites and shaped perfectly. Could it be the island population of white eyes is free of this parasite due to isolation?
I took my lunch break at the base of this cliff on the west side of the island. It was around 30 meters high, I would guess. A piece of cake for Alex Honnold, the great free climber!
Goodbye Ainoshima. I will be back someday.
Back to the mainland. I want to return again someday with my bicycle, but it will have to be on a weekday.
4/05/17 Another bird you can see around here in early spring is the long-tailed rosefinch, or benimashiro as it is called here in Japan. They generally winter south of Fukuoka and pass through here on the way to their breeding grounds up north in Hokkaido and Eurasia. Late last March, I was at Yamagami Dam again when I noticed a man with a long lens on a tripod. We said good morning to each other, and I asked what he was photographing. “Benimashiro”, he said. I have seen this bird only once before, also at Yamagami Dam. As we were observing and taking pictures of this chipper bird, two more birders with long lenses and nice cameras joined us. They were acquaintances of his. One of them I had met here before, walking around the Yamagami Dam lake. Bird photography is booming here in Japan, so it is really gaining in popularity here so it is more difficult to find quiet, uncrowded places.
A Daurian redstart, Jobitaki in Japanese suddenly appeared not far from the rosefinches.
Another bird I often notice in early spring is the Red-flanked Bluetail, or Ruribitaki in Japanese.
Island City, Central Park in Higashi ward is another place to see water birds. It is a man-made pond were I stop by on my way to Shikanoshima. In March, many birds migrating through, will stop here to rest. Eurasian wigeons were here on their way to northern Asia, and I took the opportunity to try and capture some grazing and in flight.
Grazing with common coots, Oo-ban in Japanese, and white-cheeked starlings, mukudori in Japanese.
Keeping an eye on me!
Ainoshima, or Cat Island as it is also called due to the large number of stray cats that roam the island, is another place high on my list to visit. Before sunrise, I put my bike in the car and drove to Shingu Port a few weekends ago, where you catch the ferry to Ainoshima. Unfortunately, bicycles are not allowed on the ferry on weekends. I decided to go back again soon on a weekday when you can take your bike with you.
Sunrise at Shingu Port
Moonset at Shingu Port
Last, but not least, the cherry trees are in full bloom here in Fukuoka on this day, but last Monday, only a few buds had come open.