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Some General Notes on Birding in Japan (1 Viewer)

Charles Harper

Régisseur
Japan is not a major destination for listers unless they are nearing the 4000 mark or have occasion to come here on other business. Japan has relatively few endemics or near-endemics, and most of them are found only on various isolated islands of the archipelago; travel within the country is expensive (though inflation has been less here than in the US and Europe in the past ten years), especially if one wishes to go from island to island in one fell birding swoop, and the language and culture are not foreigner-friendly, though the people themselves try hard to be helpful to visitors. On the other hand, Japan is eminently first-world, safe and healthy to travel in. For those with the wherewithal, an organized tour might be the least stressful way to come, as almost all of the hit species are localized and promptly located with the help of a guide.

Our 17 endemic species, according to current taxonomy, are: Japanese Murrelet, Okinawa Rail, Amami Woodcock, Ryukyu Serpent Eagle, Green Pheasant, Copper Pheasant, Ryukyu Scops Owl, Japanese Green Woodpecker, Pryer's Woodpecker, Japanese Wagtail, Ryukyu Minivet, Japanese Accentor, Ryukyu Robin, Amami Thrush, Izu Islands Thrush, Bonin Islands Honeyeater, and Lidth's Jay. After 13 years' residence, I have seen 13 of these and dipped on two others (I would not have dipped if I had had a guide).

The major authoritative reference in English is Mark Brazil's The Birds of Japan(1991), which lists a further seven endemic breeders (they winter elsewhere) and 14 near-endemic/breeders (for which Japan is the main part of their range).

The lone English-language field guide, Field Guide to the Birds of Japan, by the Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ) and illustrated by S. Takano, has been out of print for several years, and is poorly illustrated by today's standards, while the text and taxonomy are out of date. There are two bird finding guides (still in print?): A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan, by Mark Brazil (1987) and A Birder's Guide to Japan, by Jane Washburn Robinson (1987), both growing outdated, but still quite functional. I recommend using both, as their information is often complementary.

For the multilingual, there are a number of excellent, up-to-date national and regional field guides (both photographic and with paintings) and birdfinding guides in Japanese.

I hope my colleagues here will add to this introduction and contribute their own birding site information, as will I. And of course in the meantime you can contact me at [email protected] .
 

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TonyC

Well-known member
There's some information on my web pages
http:/homepage.nltworld.com/tony.coatsworth

This was a trip we did a few years ago - we just booked flights and sorted out everything ourselves when we got there.

A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan, by Mark Brazil (1987) is definitely out of print although I did manage to track a copy down.
 

Charles Harper

Régisseur
Thanks Tony, but I can't seem to call up your web address. Could you re-enter it, and surround it with the 'URL' code? (Click on 'vB code' below for more information.)
 

TonyC

Well-known member
Sorry folks - I'm just in the process of migrating from demon.

NTL lost my first attempts at uploading my web pages but the text stuff should all be there now. They also have some sort of limit on the size of images so the larger Japanese pictures aren't there. I'll redo them as JPEG's one day.
 

Larry Lade

Moderator
Hi Tony,

I really enjoyed your web pages. We are anxiously awaiting February when a friend and I are going to Kenya (so took special note of your African bird photos).

Larry
 

Andrew

wibble wibble
You mention Japan being a destination for desperate listers, I would take a Japan birding trip any day if it was offered to me!
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Re those out of print guides mentioned by Charles.

Log on to www.amazon.co.jp and click on the button saying "english". Do a search for those books and take the second hand/used option ( it's in Japanese but the layout is the same as amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. ). State how much you're wiling to pay. I got the out of print field guide ( in perfect condition and less than the cover price ) in less than 4 days!

Like Charles says the quality of the Field Guide leaves a bit to be desired but it's better than nothing. Collins Birdguide actually has about ( I'm guessing ) half of the birds you'll see in Japan ( though not all of the eastern subspecies ) and there are other regional giuides available in English that should have most Japanese birds in ( except the endemics of course )-eg guides for Korea/China/Russia/SE Asia.....................

UK based birders would love Japan I think. Many extremely rare birds in the UK are easy to see here-especially chats ( eg Red Flanked Bluetail, Siberian Blue Robin....), thrushes ( Dusky is abubdant in winter and there are lots of eastern Thrushes in the woods in summer ), wildfowl ( Harlequin Duck is easy to get ) and the seabirds are excellent too........................add to this birds like Stellers Sea Eagle and the various Crane species and Japan would be well worth a visit esp as the exchange rate from Pounds to Yen is so good these days.
 

d.flack

David Flack
Birding in Japan and Hiroshima

Hello Charles
I am visiting Hiroshima at easter, Can you reccomend any birding sites within reach of Hiroshima. I visited before and did not find a huge variety of birds, apart from Black eared kites and an osprey on Mirajima Island. Would I have to make the journey to Hokaido to find any Cranes? I had thought of going to Okinawa but that also seems quite a journey considering the fact that I am visiting my daughter for just two weeks. Have you any knowledge of the Hiroshima area?
 

Charles Harper

Régisseur
I still don't know how to edit old posts, so I'll use this one to tell you the current address of our website, BIRDS OF JAPAN. I suppose you are already aware that new photographic and painted field guides now exist for NE Asia.
 

Charles Harper

Régisseur
Hi David,

Sorry, no chance for the sea eagle, though you can see White-tailed Eagles. But here are lots of good breeding birds in Hokkaido – Gray's, Middendorf's and Lanceolated Warblers, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat, Latham's Snipe – while Blakiston's Fish Owl, Black Woodpecker and Japanese Crane are resident birds.

And the countryside and seacoast are beautiful. We of lower Japan favor June as the time to visit Hokkaido in the summer, but I don't see why July can't be as good, bird-wise.
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Yes, early July should still be great in north and east Hokkaido and there's a good chance of seeing all the stuff Charles mentioned (and lots more besides, the forests and wetlands will be teeming). I know there are highly regarded seabird watching trips from Nemuro too.

Bring bug spray.
 

dacoj3

Well-known member
Thanks to bott

Yes, early July should still be great in north and east Hokkaido and there's a good chance of seeing all the stuff Charles mentioned (and lots more besides, the forests and wetlands will be teeming). I know there are highly regarded seabird watching trips from Nemuro too.

Bring bug spray.

As I feared - sounds excellent nevertheless and definitely on the agenda! We have resident sea eagles and black woodpeckers here too, first rate birds. One of my Danish friends recommended the pelagic too - Albatross, I think he said... ? Anyway the seabirds, especially auks, leave the Baltic well behind.

Thanks to both of you for replying. My mouth is watering already :)
 
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Pete58

Well-known member
Travelling to Okinawa and Amami-oshima in May. Having a few problems locating the calls of the endemics. I know the main birds are going to be seen driving along the roads at night but we would like some idea if we have the Rail calling nearby. Any information on the best sites at the moment would be great.
Also having a few problems booking a car in advance on Amami-Oshima. Naha easy enough with Europcar but drawing a bit of a blank on the other island.
Struggling at the moment.
 

john_wright

Well-known member
Hi Pete:

Here is a site in Japanese for car rental on Amami:

http://www17.ocn.ne.jp/~raizu/amami-rentacar.html

Best spots on Amami are along the road that runs through the middle of the island from Naze toward Uken-son. The mountain road from Naze to Waze can also be good. Most endemics are either nocturnal (Amami Woodcock, Ryukyu Scops Owl, etc.) or early morning (Ryukyu Robin, Lidth's Jay) so it is a good idea to do a fair bit of recon the day before any nocturnal birding to familiarize yourself with the road conditions, which can change pretty drastically season to season.

For Okinawa, Yambaru is the place you want to be for both Okinawa Rail and Pryer's Woodpecker.
 

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