One Morning at Citizen’s Forest Pond

May 1, 2020

You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.” – Henry David Thoreau

I again followed Thoreau’s advice yesterday morning, and sat myself down on a convenient cement seat, next to a pond. Ponds are a great place to observe the creatures that either reside there, or visit for food, water, and rest. Citizen’s Forest Pond, nestled at the foot of Shioji mountain, was created when a small stream was blocked by a dirt embankment. Cement blocks were stacked on both sides,  but the rear of the pond was left unimpeded. Here, various water plants grow, creating a safe haven and food source. Birds, mammals, frogs, snakes, fish, and insects have taken to Citizen’s Forest Pond, even though it is of modest size. It is nestled up against woods on one side, and a walking path on the other. A two meter high hedge separates the path from the pond, providing privacy for the animals. Here, I noticed a small gap where I sidled through. Low and behold, I found the aforementioned seat. Here, I sat undetected for hours as the people passed by on the other side of the hedge, oblivious of my presence.  Leaving some hours later, Thoreau’s observation was again confirmed. Sit for even one hour quietly. Inhabitants will emerge from hiding. 





The Asian Softshell Turtle photo was taken at a different location, (Mikasa River). This is an invasive species, but due to it’s popularity as a food delicacy throughout Asia, and reduction of habitat, it was put on the ICUN  ‘vulnerable’ list of endangered species in 2016. 

Thanks for visiting!



Some Wildlife of Yasukougen

May 23, 2020    Yasukougen is a great place to observe birds and wildlife. It is nestled in a shallow and wide valley at an elevation of about 300 meters. It is about a 30 minute drive from my home, and I have been there 8 times in the past 2 weeks. Reason being, to TRY to photograph the Ruddy Kingfisher (Aka Shoubin) that has seemingly taken up residence there. The territory it has chosen is about 40,000 square meters, and therefore, each time I have arrived there early in the morning, it’s call invariably comes to my ears. For me, it is high on the list of birds I want to see and photograph. So far, I have glimpsed it a number of times, but it has always flown before I can capture it’s image. It’s call, which drew me to it in the first place, is mysterious and beautiful. I couldn’t believe my ears, as they are somewhat rare and extremely difficult to spot, let alone capture on film, which I have yet to do, except for one blurry image.




Each day I returned to Yasukougen, I expected it to have departed for one of it’s known breeding, grounds in Miyazaki, or Shikoku for example. I shall continue my quest to capture it on film, hopefully before it leaves Yasukougen.

  In the meantime, there have been other creatures to catch my interest in the area. Yesterday, a raccoon, and this morning a fawn. Both of them were photographed and or filmed on my way to a hole in a tree newly excavated by a pair of courting Japanese Green Woodpeckers (Aogera). As I was observing them from a blind, they suddenly became  agitated. I was worried it was because of my presence, but it was actually a young raccoon that had climbed into their tree to check out their hole. Afterwards it nonchalantly began grooming itself on a nearby branch for a few minutes. Then it calmly climbed into a neighboring tree, descended to the forest floor, and vanished into the early morning gloom. 











May 5, 2020  About this time of year, you might find me walking around Yamagami Dam Lake in search of birds arriving from their wintering grounds. On this particular day, I was looking and listening for the Narcissus Flycatcher (Kibitaki) as well as the Blue and White Flycatcher (Oruri).  As soon as I got out of the car, I could hear a Narcissus Flycatcher singing from within the cedar forests that surround Yamagami Lake, and this male, as it turned out, happened to be in the exact same location and on the same perch as a male I had photographed last year. Of course there was no way I could tell if it was the same exact bird, but I would not be surprised. Speaking of flycathers, I have also seen the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, with it’s extremely long tail at Yamagami Lake. That was just for an instant, and I was only able to get it’s tail in a fuzzy photo.

     A few days ago, I was on the other side of the lake with the camera set up, and a male Blue and White Flycatcher landed on a branch right in front of  me. I was only able to get off a few frames before he flew off right over my head.  I was back in the hopes of finding him still in the area. I did hear him, but I was not able to see him. A Red-billed Leiothrix also popped out of the bushes for a moment, flashing it’s bright epaulettes. Each of these gems of the forest has a beautiful voice. 

  Earlier this week, I went out to photograph the night sky. After the Moon set, taking with it it’s shining silver coat, the Milky Way began to stand out more as it rose up from the horizon. Glorious as always, it still takes my breath away.

Milky way w- cedars watermarked

Thanks for visiting. Tom