Tuesday 29 October 2013


The region isn't particularly rich in gamebirds, nor is Japan generally for that matter, Chinese Bamboo Partridge and Copper and Green Pheasants are the only species that can be hoped for in Kansai.

The introduced Chinese Bamboo Partridge can be found in the hills around Kyoto but I only run into them very occasionally. They used to be common along the Yodo River between Mukaijima and Yawata but I haven't heard them there for several years. They seem far easier to see in some other parts of the country but I have the feeling they can be easy to see at some sites but unaccountably secretive at others. Many authorities now split sonorivox as Taiwan Bamboo Partridge and I believe this breeds to the west of Osaka but I've never tried for it.
Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Tsushima, Nagasaki.

The bird in the shot above was one of two birds calling back and forth across a narrow woodland lane on Tsushima, Nagasaki. Another species which is common, in fact unavoidable, on Tsushima is Ring-necked Pheasant, where Brazil (East Asia Field Guide 2009) states it could be an indigenous population. Elsewhere it is introduced and in my experience most conspicuously so in the Yaeyama Islands in the extreme south of the country.

Roadside Ring-necked Pheasant in the rain. Tsushima, Nagasaki-ken in May.

Copper and Green Pheasants will be the most sought after of Kyoto's gamebirds. Copper Pheasant used to be fairly easy to find on all the hills around the city and I'd often see them on Mt Inari when I lived there but unfortunately they seem to have long since disappeared from that location. It still occurs in more continuous forests to the north and west of the city but it requires luck to stumble across one. I can go visit after visit without a hint of their existence then find them in different locations in the same day. Green Pheasant is altogether far more numerous but never guaranteed on any given day. It's a bird of extensive arable land with plenty of scrub or fallow areas and also overgrown riversides. In Kyoto it's common along the Uji and Yodo rivers to the south and even along the Katsura River through the western suburbs.

Green Pheasant on a dull, wet morning when they seem to linger longer in the open.

but they're much better on a brighter morning...

and great on a bright one.

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