Thursday, 5 July 2012

Odaiba marine park and Daiba park, Tokyo

My jet lag was worse than I thought. I slept 15 hours last night which meant my birding didn't start until 10.30am.Luckily it was an overcast day so the birds were still active by the time I started to look for them.

Let me stress again that any birding in Japan is a bonus for this holiday. I chose Tokyo as a stop off en route to the south pacific in order to ameliorate jet lag. I see any new birds as a wind fall.

In retrospective, I would have liked at least an extra day to go back and clear up some questions but it is not to be unless I get up really early tomorrow which my body clock probably won't allow!

eastern spot billed duck

I am grateful to my hotel which is the Washington Hotel, Ariake for supplying each room with a detailed "Jogging and Cycling map". I worked out that it was a useful birding route too, taking me to two local parks on the sea front and back. It involved about 10 kilometres of walks which was very manageable.

My first lifer of the day wasn't until I reached the sea front where I saw a pair of ducks swimming. I later met another of the species next to a fresh water pond in part of a park.

a second eastern spot-billed duck

The bird is an anas duck with an odd name. I say odd because the male Indian spot billed duck does indeed have two orange spots on the top of the bill but as far as I can tell the eastern spot billed duck doesn't so the name is no help (though you might vaguely see a couple of beige spots if look very hard). The confusion is that many people consider them to be the same species and the Indian version is the nominate and eastern spot billed duck is a sub species not worthy of being described properly by the nominate's name! Increasingly though more birders consider them to be separate species. Either way since I have never seen an Indian spot-billed duck it counts as a lifer which ever way you look at it.

Incidentally and possibly more importantly, as I got close to the duck in the fresh water pond, I accidentally disturbed a night heron in a near-by tree. This turned out to be my second lifer of the day. It was a Japanese night heron.

the "bird island"

Over the water from the edge of Daiba park are two islands which are unapproachable on foot. It was from these that most of the water birds came and went.

great cormorant

There were tens and probably hundreds of cormorants on the islands. It's also where my disturbed night heron flew off to. The picture above is of a great cormorant. Its only after I came back that I realised I should have looked harder at the cormorants there. it is highly likely according to the literature that both Great cormorant and Japanese cormorant would have been present. Unfortunately I can't claim Japanese cormorant since I wasn't looking closely enough because I hadn't realised that a second cormorant was a possibility.Seems the easiest way of distinguishing between them is that the Japanese cormorant has a lot more  (obviously so) yellow on the bill. 

Intermediate egret

The island had at least two types of egret. Little egret were the more common but intermediate egret were present too (note the orange bills). This was my third lifer of the day. This bird had alluded me when I went birding in Senegal a couple of year's ago.

great cormorant, grey heron and little egret on "bird island"

Apologies for the picture quality from my reserve camera and also due to the distance involved. The island also had grey heron. I think all the egrets in this picture were little egret.

unknown gull

I only saw one gull all day and I don't know what it is. It was way out to sea but my main handicap is I don't know anything about Japanese gulls but I will when I get  a spare moment! It will surely be a lifer once I have worked out what it is.

"Japanese tit"

One lifer I haven't got is Japanese tit. Let me explain. As I said in the last blog, I am not armed with a Japanese bird guide book. However research on the net tells me that the bird above is a Japanese tit. According to Wikipedia it used to be considered a sub-species of great tit but Russian researchers published in 2005 that in south east Russia the two birds co-exist but don't inter-breed hence they should be seen as different species.

a second view of a "Japanese tit"

The bad news for me is that my list is kept on the e-bird database and unfortunately for me they still consider the birds to be a single species. 

Jungle crow

On the way back to the hotel, I got two slightly better pictures of birds seen yesterday. The jungle crow was eating some flesh which looks too much like a bird embryo though id like to be proved wrong. Anyway it distracted him enough to allow me up quite close.

two oriental turtle dove

My sighting of an oriental turtle dove was not a fluke. I came across 3 together of which I managed to get two on the same photograph.

mushrooms in July

Finally just to show how humid and wet the Tokyo summer is, I came across a group of mushrooms. 


  1. Bob - i took the liberty of asking around and the opinion is a 3rd CY Slaty-Backed Gull....

    ATB Laurie -

  2. Laurie, that's really useful. I got another gull the next morning which I WAS able to identify. It's a black tailed gull. So that's two lifers among the gulls in Japan!

    Had a great mornings birding in Auckland yesterday too. I added red-billed gull to my list of lifer gulls on this trip.

    I have run out of time to blog today so my first blog from NZ will have to wait a day or so. But there were three endemic lifers among the birds!


  3. I've got some birds for you to identify on my blog....

  4. Khadija,

    Bear with me. Internet is extremely expensive in Samoa. I promise I'll look when I get back to NZ in a couple of days.

    Actually its the expense of the internet that has stopped me posting three blogs that are lined up. they should follow soon too!


  5. Thanks... the ospreys are beautiful and they have a source of fresh water and salt water nearby.