Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Japan Day Three: Lake Chuzenji Birds (and Monkeys)

Lake Chuzenji at Dawn
Up at dawn (4:30 a.m.) I took a long walk along Lake Chuzenji. Bird life was abundant. As was monkey life. Here's a video of a band of macaques I stumbled upon near the edge of town. Note their exquisite synchronization.
The lake is simply magical this time of day

Especially with large flocks of kawau (great cormorants) flying here and there.
Kawau over Lake Chuzenji
And this crazy uguisu song.

I managed low light shots of several local birds, including kibitaki (narcissus flycatcher)
The kibitaki was actually among the most prominent birds vocally on my walk. You can hear a variety of vocalizations below.

mejiro (Japanese white-eye)
I just missed getting the classic shot of a mejiro couple preening each other. (What a charming bird the sweet-singing mejiro is).

But I did manage this low light photo of a kisekirei (gray wagtail) couple
(Here's a slightly better view of one on a utility wire)
The wagtail is a family of birds that we really don't have in the Eastern US so they were interesting to observe walking all about flipping their tails. Hakusekirei are also big fighters.

Wagtails are also birds with deep significance in Japanese culture, linked to the mythological origins of the Japan archipelago itself.
Even featured on a lamp in our hotel room!

Also abundant in the area are iwatsubame (Asian house martins). They frequently land on the lakeside mud and feed.

They make nests on the sides of local buildings but, consistent with their Japanese name (literally "rock swallow"), love to nest on cliff sides and are an integral part of the spectacle of nearby kegon no taki (Kegon Falls).

Flying above and around the falls

and nesting in holes drilled into the rock face.

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