Brazil Day, December 5, 1997
On December 5th the small children in the Netherlands
are all anxiously waiting for the arrival of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet.
Throughout the year they live in Spain, but his birthday Sinterklaas
spends with the children in the Netherlands. If you have behaved
properly the past year, he will ask Zwarte Piet to give you your
present which Zwarte Piet carries in a large bag hanging over his shoulder.
If not, then Zwarte Piet will carry you in that very same bag back to Spain.
Typically the Mayor of your town and the Headmaster of your school will
announce the visits of the holy man and his helper to your city hall and
Some days before the 5th of December Ikenaga-san announced
to the Kantorians the visit of his friend Mark Brazil to Tsukuba. In the
evening of the 4th there was a pleasant dinnerparty at his place (Katayama-san
turned out to be a genuine noodle specialist!) and for December 4th Ikenaga-san
had concocted a busy program, involving many visits to all kind of local
birding spots and museums of natural history and topped with a timely visit
to Narita Airport to put Mark on his flight back to New Zealand.
Eventually we visited Shinoike, Ottonuma and the museum in Ushiku,
and the Abiko city museum of birds..
Mark Brazil turned out to be a keen birdwatcher (despite being the whole
day bothered by a rather heavy cold or allergy): always alert, with
a sharp and knowing ear for bird calls. He spotted a Tobi on the way to
Shishitsuka-oike, a bird rarely seen in Tsukuba, immediately located the Benimashiko
in Shishitsuka-oike, when Ikenaga-san had explained that it was possible
visitor, and noted the two Tsugumi overhead in Ushiku, which are surprisingly
rare this whole December month.
Shishitsuka-oike is a delightful combination of a pond, forested hills
and marshy valleys just outside Tsukuba on the territory of
Tsuchiura. It is one of the few places where the old landscape of
Tsukuba is preserved by an accidental projection of highways: a
seemingly forgotten corner of the world where the landscape from
before the building of Tsukuba Science City with its uncountable
research institutes scattered all over ...
Ottonuma is a far less scenic remainder of former marshland between Tsukuba and Arakawaoki.
The Joban expressway is built over the marsh. Part of the marsh has been
transformed into a big market and the remaining pond is disguished
as a rather boring small park with cherry trees. Jet despite all this winter
birds keep returning to the place. Falcated teals and Bewick's swans
visit the pond every winter.
Birdwatching with Katayama-san:
Nov-March: 2 pm, every second Sunday of the month.
May-Oct: 4 pm, every second Sunday of the month.
No birdwatching in April: too many people for Cherry blossom...
Ushiku Nature Sanctuary is a forest area with ponds which has been turned in to an nature
eductation centre. There is a museum which is nicely equipped for
this goal. For instance it has a useful
library with books and journals on all kind of topics, plants,
insects, birds... Last year Waxwings could be seen in
the park. It can be found east of the railway station of the Joban-line, a bit outside Ushiku. (0298-78-6600)
Abiko city museum of Birds is located opposite Tega marsh, which is a little
south east of the Abiko railwaystation along the Joban-line. In
nice displays the birds living in the marsh are shown. Also there is
an impressive overview of birds from all over the world and from all
times, with specimens from many different families. Apart from these
permanent exhibitions there is a room for special, temporary
exhibitions. Click for more info.
Participants: Asuka Haruhiko, Mark Brazil, Stefan Gleissberg, Ikenaga
Hiroshi and Fer-Jan de Vries.
Weather: not particularly memorable. It was overcast but dry.
Not too cold, nor windy.
Anas crecca crecca
Anas acuta [Onaga-gamo]
[Tobi] 1 ex, just west of the area.
[Ou-taka] 1 female
[Kawa-semi] 1 ex.
Japanese pygmy woodpecker
Siberian meadow bunting
Long tailed rosefinch
[Yoshi-gamo] About 45.
Anas acuta [Onaga-gamo]
[Hidori-gamo] At least 80.
Fulica atra [Ou-ban]
[Kawa-semi] 3 ex.
Rufous turtle dove
Ushiku Nature Sanctuary
And on the way to Narita airport from Abiko:
Great Crested grebe
[Kanmuri-kaituburi] 1 ex on the Tonegawa near Saikaibashi in Tonemachi.
Vanellus vanellus Same place a bit more to the west.
of Japan and Asia ,
Januari 7, 1998,
Fer-Jan de Vries.