Sunday, May 19, 2019

Osaka Birding - Day 1

We’ve been walking for more than an hour and we still hadn’t reached our destination. Our research said it was only about 20 minutes away on foot. And to think that not only did we get directions from the concierge at the hotel we were staying in but I also used Google Maps to guide us. We eventually gave up and returned to the hotel. 

It was not a good start to our birding trip to Osaka. Our plan was to go to the Osaka Nanko Bird Sanctuary - a walking distance from our hotel. (The very reason we chose the Quintessa Hotel was due to its proximity to this birding site). At first I thought things would  be going well. The moment we stepped out of the hotel I spotted our first lifer - the White-cheeked Starling - feeding by the roadside. 

Of course, I had to take a shot of the most common bird in Osaka - the Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

Then it happened. Since it was a disastrous beginning - one whole morning wasted due to my directional ineptitude - Cynthia and I worked on Plan B. Inasmuch as our hotel provides a free shuttle to the Osaka Castle, a famous tourist (and may I add, birding) spot in this city, we took that option. We left promptly at 11 am and were at our destination in about 45 minutes. After having a quick lunch at Lawsons - a local convenience store - we proceeded to area A. There we saw a bunch of bird photographers standing idly seemingly waiting for something. A few were even napping on the benches. They were unmindful of Large-billed Crows that were everywhere.

Nearby was a rock with a small pool of water where birds come to drink or take a bath. It was here that we got another common species - the Japanese Tit - which was waiting for its turn to a take a dip.

Oriental Turtle Doves were so used to humans that they would come so close we could almost step on them.

While we were observing the “bathing” area, Cynthia heard something. “Woodpecker!” She said while looking up at a nearby tree. It was our second lifer, the Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker.

Then the bird photographers excitedly rushed to an area not that far from where we were. One them, who was napping earlier, told us “flycatcher!” We joined the group and oddly enough it was I who first spotted what they were hoping to photograph. The male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher was high up in the tree tops. It would show up for a short while and then suddenly disappear. It was this “now you see it, now you don’t” game that got the local bird photographers all stirred up. And because of that we only got a few “documentary” shots of the star bird of Osaka Castle.

Strangely, after a few times of showing itself, the flycatcher seemed to evaporate into thin air and was not seen again. My wife and I decided to explore the surrounding areas and got a selfie with the famed castle in the background.

We returned to where the bird photographers were hanging out. The paradise flycatcher probably hadn’t reappeared yet as they were all lounging around. To pass the time we took photos of the Large-billed Crows and White-cheeked Starlings. Then one of the photographers told us to follow him. We did and as we reached the upper level of the castle grounds, there were already bird photographers there shooting at something. Our “angel” then pointed at a bird flitting from branch to branch. We joined the group in capturing images of the female Japanese Paradise Flycatcher which was more cooperative than the male.

Eventually she also disappeared from view. It was already close to three in the afternoon so we both agreed to call it day considering we still had to take the local commuter train back to our hotel.

Despite a bad start we were still thankful that we got three lifers on our first day of birding in Osaka. 

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