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A Report from

Japan 1st June to 4th June 2002,

Robert Payne

I recently attended the England/Sweden World Cup football match as part of a competition prize. The match was held at Saitama Stadium near Tokyo and we were staying at the Crown Plaza Metropolitan Hotel in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo. Luckily the itinery allowed a fair amount of free time so I managed to sneak away for a little bit of birding.

Tokyo Is a fascinating city with amazing contrasts between high rise living, green spaces and areas of tranquillity. Also there is little or no litter and the open areas are respected. Where the settings are tranquil, so are the people. Getting around is easy and if you do get stuck you can ask, however take a pen and paper and lots of patience as the average Japanese speaks English as well as the average English speaks Japanese.

Places Visited

The Zoshigaya Cemetery
This lovely quiet bit of space was visited through necessity rather than planning ie it was within very easy walking distance of the hotel and I could visit it before breakfast (I was with a non-birding friend who luckily enjoys lie-ins). The place itself is large cemetery containing many shrines but with lots large trees planted to give the atmosphere and feeling of woodland.

The Meiji Shrine (Yoyogi Park)
This large area of  "planted" Woodland in the centre of Tokyo is easy to get to and quite fantastic it has the mixed aura of a rainforest and an English country park. Walking around here in an unhurried way is truly rewarding. I went on a Monday so it was fairly peaceful (watch out for coach parties, though they only seem to visit the actual shrine - Its well worth seeing). A visit to the Iris Garden is essential though you do have to pay - the rest of the gardens etc are free.

The Imperial Palace
Is closed on Mondays, so we saw the gate, the moats and some of the lawns as we drove passed it. However I think that the largish birds on one of the lawns were Azure-Winged Magpies.

Saitama stadium
A football stadium with 70,000 other people (No it was not a twitch) is not an ideal place to go birding, however there are birds around and the drive out to the stadium goes past some interesting paddies. The literature regarding this area says that it is a good birding spot.

Species Account

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo hanedae )
Seen around the dock areas of Tokyo, there is one really large concentration (breeding site?), which we passed when heading to Narita airport.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea jouyi)
One bird seen at the "breeding site" mentioned above

Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia intermedia)
Two brids seen flying at Saitama near the stadium.

Egret Spp -
Egrets were seen in and around the paddy fields at Saitama and on route to Narita airport. I was not able to determine species.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax nycticorax)
One bird flushed at The Meiji Shrine Iris Gardens.

Butoides/Nyctocorax Spp.
One Bird of this type was flyinf around the Saitama Stadium as we arrived - I could not get onto it enough to id it.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
A Feral Species, Seen on the Moats of the Imperial Palace.

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
A single Male was present at the Meiji Shrine.

Spot-Billed Duck (Anas poelcilorhyncha zonorhyncha)
A Male and Female (Pair ?) were present at The Meiji Shrine.

Rock Dove (Columba livia)
A Feral species, which loves city centres.

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis orientalis)
Seen in the open cultivated areas around Saitama and on the drive to Narita airport most often seen on telegraph wires or poles.

Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
A Feral Species - a small flock seen at the Zoshigaya Cemetery.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis bengalensis)
One Bird seen at The Meiji Shrine

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki seebohmi)
A nesting site with family Group was found at The Zoshigaya Cemetery. A Delightful find, as there were both fledged and unfledged young. This Species was also present at The Meiji Shrine

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica gutturalis)
Not present in the city centres, but common in the open suburbs and countryside. Lots at Narita Airport.

Asian House Martin (Delichon dasypus dasypus)
One bird was seen at Narita Airport.

Japanese White-Eye (Zosterops japonica japonica)
This species was one of the common birds at The Meiji Shrine

Great Tit (Parus major minor)
A Common bird in the parks of Tokyo. Seen at The Zoshigaya Cemetery and The Meiji Shrine

Varied Tit (Parus varius varius)
One bird Seen at The Meiji Shrine ( by the Lake in the Iris Garden )

White-Cheeked Starling (Sturnus cineraceus)
A Common around the city present in most habitats. However I did not see any at The Meiji Shrine

Azure-Winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyana japonica)
A Small noisy group were at The Meiji Shrine, I think I also saw this species at the Imperial Palace.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus saturatus)
One of the "Common" Birds of Tokyo, present in all habitats.

Large-Billed Crow (Corvus macroryhnchos japonensis)
Another One of the "Common" Birds of Tokyo present in all habitats.

Japanese Wagtail (Motacilla grandis)
One Bird seen  on the small lake at Saitama stadium.

Motacilla Spps -
I saw a number of  wagtails in various locations ie at Narita Airport, and Tokyo City Centre which were either Black-backed or Japanese Wagtails. 

PS - the score was 1-1


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