Friday 10 August 2018

Ruddy Kingfisher... the invisible voice of summer

A couple of weeks ago I took visiting ABA Young Birder of the Year Adam Dhalla (and his dad) out to find some local forest specialities. As the locally famous breeding Fairy Pitta has been a no show this year Copper Pheasant and Ruddy Kingfisher were the main targets.

Dad's primary role was encouragement, support and most importantly... carrying the tripod. Rent-a-Dad could be the next big thing in birding.  

Well that wasn't too difficult, was it? Plus it came with a bonus pair of Japanese Paradise Flycatcher in the same group of trees.

Ruddy Kingfishers are quite common in the forests here, they're singing everywhere first thing in the morning, throughout the day in fact if the weather is wet and miserable, but they are notoriously difficult to see well. Make that to see at all. I never seem to have any problems with the resident bangsi in the far south of Japan but this race, major, seems a different matter altogether.

Copper Pheasant was less cooperative but it's rare if not impossible to see all the forest birds in a single visit. I did actually glimpse a female slip off the roadside and disappear down the steep slope on a recce a few days prior to our visit (I needed to check whether the narrow mountain road was passable after recent heavy rain) and then subsequently heard a frustratingly close displaying male.

My three recent visits to this area were all brief for one reason or another but nevertheless produced some good birds such as White-backed Woodpecker which doesn't occur in Kyoto city and Japanese Woodpecker which does but is far more common in the hills. In addition to the birds I also saw Japanese hare (twice), red fox, boar, sika deer, masked palm civet, Japanese marten and Japanese serow.

As this post is otherwise brief it seems an opportune moment to post some old images from the same site which never made it into previous posts. Both Eurasian Nuthatch and Eurasian Treecreeper are widespread in the hills to the north and west of Kyoto city but can be difficult to see. Also Varied Tit which is common everywhere and Willow Tit which is common in the hills but only winter visitor to immediate surrounds of the city.

Eurasian Treecreeper

Eurasian Nuthatch

Willow Tit

Varied Tit


  1. Lovely pics! Thanks a yon for the outing. Heard that theres a spoon billed sandpiper somewhere in japan right now?

    1. There may well be a Spoonie around at this time of year but I haven't heard of it myself. Glad you enjoyed the forest visit.