The main habitats are primary forest (particularly at Ashyu), mature secondary growth, conifer plantations and rice paddies where narrow, flat valley bottoms allow strings of small villages to worm their way into the hills.
First light over the forest while walking up to the above map.
A favourite high-valley bottom for Crested Kingfisher and the more widespread Ruddy Kingfisher.
Coming from the south turn left after Omiya Shrine, and drive till the end of the road then continue uphill on foot to reach the early morning shot site then drop down into the following valley to the river in the second shot.
Breeding birds here include Japanese, Japanese Scops, Oriental Scops, Ural and Brown Hawk Owl; Ruddy and Crested Kingfisher; Great Spotted, White-backed and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker; Oriental, Lesser and Northern Hawk Cuckoo (plus Common in spring); Japanese Thrush; Blue and White, Narcissus and Asian Brown Flyctcher (oddly, I've never seen Paradise here); Ashy Minivet; Grey Nightjar. One one ocassion I heard Fairy Pitta here. I've never seen Copper Pheasant or Japanese Night Heron here though I'm sure both will occur. Near Omiya Shrine is the closest spot I've seen Copper Pheasant and a little further down the road I've had early morning roadside Japanese Night Heron.
Mammals I've seen here are Japanese Squirrel, Japanese Macaque, Large Japanese Mole (only once, swimming across a stream!), Black Bear, Japanese Marten, Masked Palm Civet, Racoon Dog, Japanese Lesser Flying Squirrel, Japanese Hare, Red Fox Sika Deer, Wild Boar, various bats and a few mice. I've had Japanese Serow not far from here but I'm still waiting for Japanese Badger.
I've explored most roads further south than this where birds and mammals are much the same though Copper Pheasant and Japanese Night Heron have been more regular in my experience but that's probably no more than coincidence.
I've seen five species of snake in the area:-
Japanese Rat Snake.
Four-striped Rat Snake.
My only Japanese Keelback was wary and really fast so I couldn't get a shot, actually the Tiger Keelbacks I've seen were all difficult to approach too.
The area is also great for amphibians, salamanders, frogs and toad.
Tree frog "nests" are common and will suddenly appear over a short-lived puddle on a rutted track.
Fire-bellied Salamanders can be so common you have to watch where you step.
I presume these are Japanese Brown Frog.
I'm not sure which species this is, in short grass adjoining paddyfields.
Daruma Pond Frog in a valley bottom.