Yesterday I was birding in both Kyoto and Shiga forests and though my day began with four hours continuous rain just below a low ceiling of cloud (as I discovered after daybreak) by 6:30 the rain was easing-off, the morning destined for clear skies and a sticky 100% humidity.
I didn't leave the shelter of the van during the hours of darkness; umbrellas and trees don't go well together in daylight let alone at night. All I heard were three Japanese Scops Owls, none of them close, and barking foxes. At first I heard the foxes snuffling, grumbling and grunting behind me and I could see two adults and at least one half-grown cub on the road. I'm unsure whether there was more than one cub as 'it' was racing back and forth mostly hidden by a bend in the road while the adults sat watching over play time.
Once light began to broaden I couldn't justify sitting any longer so pulled on waterproof bottoms (Does that sound any better than waterproof over-trousers? Didn't think so.), grabbed my umbrella and made my way along the woodland edge. It still wasn't light enough to identify many of the small birds flitting in the tree tops but a Broad-billed Roller suddenly appearing flying away for a brief second was a shock, to say the least. This isn't a bird I expect in Kansai during the breeding season, I think I've only seen one here on passage! Then I promptly began the process of talking myself out of it. "It's still pretty dark, the flight was a bit like a Jay... it must have been a Jay" It was a Jay.
I covered the nearby area as much as possible but under the trees wasn't getting much brighter and just before 7am I was back at the van for a break and some roasted almonds in lieu of breakfast. Then, unbelievably, a Fairy Pitta was singing! The rain had stopped (more or less) so I could ditch the brolly before dashing towards the sound; don't stop... don't stop! I struggled to spot it in the tree tops and after a short pause the song was another 150 metres away. And so began a Pitta chase. For a long while this pattern was repeated, it wasn't bothered by me, I could just never pick it up before it changed song perch. This time perseverance paid dividends, I finally latched onto it, this wasn't going to be one that got away; another one that got away.
I was able to watch it for several minutes before it shifted again.
I heard the Pitta once more, very briefly, but it was way off across a broad valley on an entirely different hillside. A second bird? Or this one moving along?
The morning was heating up as it progressed, so was I, there wasn't a breath of air. I was thinking about a move, trying somewhere else and I'd driven a couple of hundred metres back down the access road enjoying the breeze through the open window but decided to check one last spot. A track led to a clearing through a narrow belt of trees and no sooner had I stopped to check some movement in the bushes than a Roller, living up to its name, flopped rapidly across the open space. Ha! Jays with dark rumps don't exist. No, not even in the early half-light. Note to self: don't talk yourself out of good birds in future.
My next stop was a deep, dark (leech infested) valley bottom. I've seen Japanese Night Heron here in the past, Copper Pheasant too. But not today.
|Fire-bellied Salamanders are very common in old wet forest but after a lot of rain you've got watch where you put your feet, they seem to think they own the place wandering willy-nilly from puddle to puddle.|