Harbingers of Spring

February 16, 2021 One of the harbingers of spring in Japan are the blooming of the plum blossoms. If the weather is fine, the plum trees typically start blooming around the middle of January, and usually reach full bloom (mankai) from the middle of February.

Two species of birds that enjoy sipping nectar from the blossoms are the Japanese white-eye (Meijiro), and the Brown-eared bulbul (Hiyodori). Important pollinators of the plum tree, as most insect pollinators are not active yet.

These images were taken at Tenpai Lake.

The nimble Japanese white-eye often feeds upside down.

The Brown-eared bulbul also can feed inverted, but is not nearly as nimble as the White-eye, as the following video shows.

Common Shelduck & Black-faced Spoonbills

February 9, 2021 Last Sunday morning, I went to Wajiro estuary in Hakata Bay. I was lucky to see some Oystercatchers (Miya kodori). A rather rare transient in this area. Common Shelducks (Tsukushigamo) were also there. Like their name suggests, they are common. They forage in shallow water by upending and head-dipping, but mostly by moving their bills back and forth through the water (scything), or by dabbling and digging on mudflats. I observed a few of them feeding in a style I have never seen before. They were stamping their feet rapidly, apparently to bring up prey to the surface of the mud. Other ducks do this on land to cause earthworms to come out of the ground. Perhaps it mimics the vibration of the rising tides, to bring up the small mollusks and other invertebrates that feed in shallow water.

As it was rather cloudy, I rode the bike back to where I had parked the car (no parking around Wajiro) at Tataragawa, about 7 kilometers away. When I arrived, the sun had started coming out from behind the clouds. I noticed the same small group of Black-faced Spoonbills I had photographed the weekend before (previous post) and took a short video.

They afternoon of the same day. Some images taken at Homan river near my home. A Pale Thrush (Shirohara), Common Kingfisher (Kawasemi), and Rufous Turle Dove (Kijibato) taken during the golden hour.

Thanks for visiting! Be safe everyone.

Hakata Bay Tidal Flats

February 2, 2021 There are at least eight important coastal areas along the Ariaki Sea in Fukuoka prefecture that provide shelter and food to many animal, plant, and bird species. Hakata Bay also has estuaries and tidal flats that are equally important. These tidal flats (higata) are important stopovers for resting and feeding for many bird species during migration, and are also wintering grounds for some.

One such bird is the Black-faced Spoonbill (Kurotsura-Herasagi). Over the past ten years, I have noticed an increase in their numbers at Tataragawa Estuary, which is also one of their wintering grounds. Recently I learned through the WBSJ (Wild Bird Society of Japan) that the nationally protected Wajiro Tidal Flats area six kilometers to the east, has been extended to encompass Tataragawa Estuary.

These areas are vital to the preservation of many species. Unfortunately, these refuges are not permanently protected. Rather, their protection status is extended by the national government for ten year stretches. It is a constant battle for organizations, such as WBSJ, the Audubon Society, and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to watch over and preserve these delicate habitats.

Thank you for visiting my site, and may the wind always be under your wings!

P.S. Check out post of April, 2019 for a close up view of the black-faced Spoonbill.

Link to Wajiro Tidal Flats

Fukuoka City HAKATA Minato Gallery-Wajiro Tidal Flat