Wednesday 9 November 2016

Black Bittern in Osaka

Caspian Tern, Tiger Shrike, Least Tern, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Nordmann's Greenshank, Bearded Tit, Wood Warbler and Black Bittern, eight Japan ticks (so far) this year. And the last three in the space of only two weeks! The year started slowly with only one new bird in the first six months, in the first week in fact, but things have certainly picked up since then. So... to Black Bittern.

I caught the earliest train into Kyoto station this morning, switched lines down to Osaka, then took the subway straight to Hattori Ryokuchi Koen. I don't remember exactly when I last visited this park but I do remember why... to see my first Great Bittern in Japan. I've lost count of the Great Bitterns I've seen since then but that's not something I expect to happen with Black.

It was only 10 minutes walk through the park to get to the site and if the sun had risen behind the clouds, there still wasn't much light to show for it. Nevertheless there was already a small crowd watching the bird, some 18 metres off from the lakeside. There wasn't that much cover but it was surprisingly difficult to pick the bird up when it wasn't moving; ie most of the time, early on anyway. I couldn't pick it up scanning through the bins with directions I was given and even peering through someone's long lens on the bird didn't help. Finally just looking with the naked eye did the trick, how could I have missed it? It's just there in the open. A constant flow of new arrivals suffered the same frustration, there was a constant backdrop "I still don't see it" counterpointed by serial ahhhhs as people finally connected and joined the smug-club.

My earliest images suffered from poor light and later ones from increasing distance but I can't complain, as rarities go the views weren't bad at all.


  1. Only seen one of those 8 ticks (Caspian Tern). I got 5 additions to my J-list this year..............Dollarbird, Leach's Petrel, Common Shelduck, Ring Necked Duck and European Starling. Sure you've seen all of them!

  2. Living in Kansai often means chasing rarities to see interesting birds Stuart. We fall between the northern and southern stools, each packed with great birds all year round. Up there you've got all those amazing summer visitors, never ending winter specials and a ton of woodpeckers that just sit around in hey-look-at-me positions!
    I saw my first Asian Rosy Finches in three years today! I'll bet you have to kick them out of the way when you're birding ;)

    1. I still get envious of your birds although I agree Hokkaido definitely has its not inconsiderable charms (which I take for granted)..............the grass is always very green elsewhere I suppose.

  3. Indeed it is. Though much as I love Hokkaido I don't think I could handle the winters full-time.