November 20, 2021 Last Sunday, as I was driving to Oita Prefecture to to do some night sky photography, I stopped at a red light. I glanced out the window to my left, and standing on the side of a fallow rice field, were a pair of tall , white and black birds. They were standing about forty meters or so from the road. Thinking they were a couple of rare Japanese Cranes, (which I have never seen!), I quickly pulled over to the side of the road after the light turned green. As they did not seem too concerned about my car, I slowly opened the door and stepped out to look at them. It was then that I realized they were actually a pair of Oriental Storks, or Kounotori in Japanese. I really found it quite hard to believe, as they are even rarer than the Japanese Crane. I set up the camera, and I was able to get some photos of them. Later, I was able to learn more about them. The last breeding pair in Japan was way back in 1959, when they were considered ‘extinct’ in the wild here. Small populations still existed in China and Russia, and it was from Russia, that six Oriental Storks were given to Japan. The city of Toyooka, in Hyogo prefecture adopted them. Their breeding program is slowly making headway, and they have managed to reintroduce them back into the wild. At last count, around 200 Japanese Storks reside in Japan, and or migrate through. This pair had colored leg bandings that enable researchers to identify them without having to capture them.
Storks are considered bringers of good fortune in some cultures, while in others, they bring life, and babies!
More information on the Oriental Stork.
Conservation Tales: The Oriental White Stork in Japan