I spotted this common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) perched above a rice irrigation pond just inside the Minoh Quasi National Park this weekend. They are smaller than most species of kingfisher, but I always see one near wooded ponds. Japan Times nature writer Rowan Hooper did a nice piece on the kawasemi (river cicada in Japanese).
A pair of bull-headed shrikes (Lanius bucephalus) near an irrigation pond next to a park right before entering the national park. This is the first time I’ve spotted this “mini-raptor” here and perhaps they are winter migrants from further north in Japan, although everything I read is they are quite common all throughout suburban Japan. I also photographed a pair of Siberian Meadow Buntings (Emberiza cioides) which was another new bird for me.
I finish this birding report with the always spectacular Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata). They are winter visitors to the large ponds of Senri Chuo Central Park. They are utterly distinctive with the varied colors and varied feather shapes and sizes. Below, a male is showing off for the grey colored female.