Month: February 2014

February Birds

We went to this morning’s Wild Bird Society of Japan monthly gathering in Meiji Jingu thinking it would be an “interesting experience”. After the heavy snowfall  two days ago we weren’t sure what if anything we would see.

With a lot of the snow already turning very slushy especially on a sunny and warming-up Sunday morning  good footwear was essential. I was also pleased I took my walking stick along, as some of the shady areas were still very icy and slippery.

The snow as well as a lot of fallen trees and debris meant that we couldn’t follow the normal route around the gardens. We even had to miss out on the usual visit into the Inner Garden where we sometimes get lucky and spot a kingfisher or two over the fishponds.

But we weren’t disappointed as far as today’s “haul” was concerned. Of course the ubiquitous brown-eared bulbuls, jungle crows and sparrows were in evidence. It is interesting that the latter in Japan (and also S.Korea) are actually tree sparrows – much rarer in England than our own house sparrows. In fact in amongst a group of sparrows close to the Treasure Museum we were lucky enough to see a Rustic Bunting. Only the presence of the resident experts who said that it was quite unusual  allowed us to identify it as such as it did merge very much in to the sparrow background. Another first for me in Japan was skylark bringing back memories of them hovering and  singing over the fields in Suffolk as I used to walk to school. The tit family are usually present, and today also common with England we saw both Long-tailed and Great as well as what is becoming one of my favourites here the very tame Varied Tit with russet colouring giving it its name.  Another firm favourite is the (Japanese) White-eye which also brings back memories,  not of England  but Zimbabwe where I first saw these beautiful little birds flitting in the trees. Overhead we watched the aerial battles between a goshawk and the crows with a passing cormorant not getting involved. The White wagtail more or less merged with the wintry background, but the snow did show off the colours of the Eastern Turtle Dove.

Not being able to go in to the Inner Garden meant that we finished earlier than normal, so rounded off the morning with a bowl of  san sai soba (mountain vegetable  buckwheat noodles) before strolling back through Yoyogi Park in the winter sunshine.

(Bird count = 13 varieties)

Slippers or Wellies?

I now have 2 pairs of slippers here in Tokyo, 2 pairs at my sister’s house in Northampton and another pair at my parent’s house, also Northampton. But  I woke this morning after another record breaking snowfall bringing the normally ultra-efficient Japanese transport system to a virtual standstill. The poor truck driver who was trying to get up the slope opposite our house made it 50 metres along the road, and then back again. As all this took two hours  he seems to have given up now. I should have gone out to help, but I don’t have any wellies. But if I buy a pair of wellies for the Tokyo snow do I also have to buy a pair for England to wear in the floods and storms that have been sweeping across the country for the last couple of months?

Whether I live in England or Japan  there’s  a lot of weather about.041