Monday 29 April 2019

A few Yaeyama natives

I've already mentioned in a previous post that Iriomote offers a more enjoyable away-from-it-all experience than Ishigaki, the only downside being there aren't any convenience stores providing round the clock coffee. And on the bird front, breeding Black-shouldered Kites are the only birds that can't be found on Iriomote. 

There doesn't seem to be any competition between the Kites and the abundant local Large-billed Crows, they seem to ignore each other, but on this occasion a Crow trying to share a favourite tree of this Kite was pushing the envelope a little too far.

Ruddy Kingfishers of the race bangsi are more numerous and easier to see than the migratory major we get further north. Catching up with Ruddy Kingfisher in Honshu usually means a trip to well established forest but in Yaeyama the can be found in village gardens and relatively insubstantial belts of trees. Typically most vocal activity is at dawn (in particular) and dusk but bangsi does sing throughout even sunny days which I wouldn't expect of major.

To my ear bangsi sounds obviously different to major, akin to a distinct regional dialect. Major gives an explosive but harmonious descending trill, a single entity, whereas the song of bangsi is three or four rapid, descending individual notes, the last of which reverberates.

It came as a surprise then, while watching the Kites, that a very obvious major-type song chimed in with two bangsi that were singing from the dense scrub and low trees beside the airport. I can only suppose this was a northward bound migrant major. If bangsi can also sing in this way, it's the first time I've heard it.

Though Yonaguni is more important as place to see rare migrants than Yaeyama/Ryukyu endemics I do always find it easier to see Barred Buttonquail here than anywhere else in it's range. Just lucky, or are they more numerous here?

A female Barred Buttonquail crossing the road. Chance encounters are reasonably frequent on Yonaguni but I've never seen the species elsewhere despite patiently staring down row after row in cane fields.

The other bird of interest is the nagamichii race of Brown-eared Bulbul which has a toehold in Japan here.

What were these two birds up to? I might have thought anting if they were on the ground, it was very overcast but not raining so not bathing. Perhaps they'd been watching a documentary on birds of paradise?

Quite an attractive bird.

The other bulbul and Zitting Cisticola are probably the two most common birds on the island apart from ubiquitous Brown-eared.

Zitting Cisticola

Chinese Bulbul

Purple Herons are common of Ishigaki and Iriomote but this was my first on Yonaguni, I came across it in the afternoon and it was gone next day.

Purple Heron

I saw three Emerald Doves on Yonaguni this trip and got this photo tick. Previously I've only ever seen one on Iriomote and, as with this trip, heard them on Ishigaki. I managed to creep up on this bird but unfortunately it was about 08:30, less somnambulant hour, and one of that particular road's 4-5 cars per hour came past and flushed it.

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