Wildlife Observations

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Last weekend I spotted this Japanese Weasel (Mustela itatsi) along one of the rivers in our neighborhood. It was going back and forth from under a pile of bamboo logs (above) to a hole along one of the many canals (bel0w). It moved quite quickly, but I was able to get a few photos. There is a nice article on this endemic species to Japan in the Japan Times. They do not change color in the winter like other weasels. They are being pushed out in Western Japan by the Siberian Weasel, which the Japanese version is a close relative.

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While biking through a wooded trail near the Ibaraki Country Club, this White’s Ground Thrush (Zoothera dauma) flushed from the leaf litter and flew into the trees (below). It paused long enough for me to take a picture. It winters in Japan and breeds in Siberia and northern China. I saw another one yesterday in Kita Senri park, a flash of olive from the ground into the trees as I biked by it. In Japanese they are known as a “tiger thrush” due to the scaly spots, reminiscent of a tiger.

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There are two kinds of wagtails in Osaka. The genus gets their name because of the habit of pumping their tails back and forth. The Japanese Wagtail (Motacilla grandis) can be identified by its black head and white eyebrow (below). It is more often found along the rivers while the white wagtail, is grey and found more inland.

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Finally, I end my post with my favorite winter waterfowl, the Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata). The exotic colors of the male are so unreal. The only place I’ve seen them is at the pond in Senri Chuo central park. Below is a photo of a male and female.

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