Waders at Yatsu, Sanbanze and Kasumigaura: April 19-20, 1997,

On Saturday I visited the Yatsu Tidal Flat. I arrived some 3 hours before high tide. In contrast to the previous time the tidal flat was initially rather empty: Atsushi Matsui-san told me why. "A peregrine falcon had visited Yatsu half an hour earlier."

While chatting with Matsui-san I could see 5 waderspecies I had not yet seen this season: Mongolian plover, Great knot, Turnstone, Whimbrel.

Matsui-san advised me not only to visit Yatsu, but also to have a look at the nearby Sanbanze area. "An extensive complex of tidal flats and shoals covering 1200 ha in the innermost part of Tokyo Bay, facing Funabashi and Ichikawa cities," acoording to the brochure of the Sanbanze Conservation Network. Before the land reclamation projects took place Yatsu was part of the Sanbanze-system.

Like all birdwatching sites in Tokyo Sanbanze is not a beautiful spot, nor an entire natural spot anymore. Big ugly fences across the beach are needed to protect the tidal flats and shoals to visitors both from the land and the seaside. Concrete dams surround the area partly. In the middle of Tokyo the water is remarkable clean, and support many shellfish. Yet algae are a problem, it seems.

The brochure explains that the highest numbers of Greater scaup, Common tern and Little tern occur in Sanbanze. More than 100.000 Greater Scaup. This must be a significant portion of the world population, and as such the spot deserves protection.

Yet landfill and reclamation projections threaten the Sanbanze from all sides. I am afraid it might disappear faster than people can imagine: think of the bay of Tokyo as half go-board: say roughly 20 x 10 = 200 squares. Then "only" reclaiming the edge means 58 squares that is more than 55% in surface... It probably means that in 30 year time Tokyo bay will be filled.

Are the effects that closing a bay has on the fish populations in the sea outside the bay well known? Large shallow bays usually functions as breeding chamber for the fish of the open seas... All around Japan the larger bays are slowly but surely reclaimed. What will be the future of the fish in this fish eating country? I am not an expert on these matters, I just express my worry.

On Sunday Neil Fergusson and I had a look at Edosaki and Ukishima at the south coast of Kasumigaura. It is some 50 km north of the northern part of the bay of Tokyo. In Spring waders in the Tokyo bay will migrate north and are almost bound to pass Kasumigaura. In the days that Kasumigaura had an open connection to the sea and was not enclosed by dykes it must have been a top location for wader migration as well. Now the numbers are low, but still many different wader species can be observed.

Apparently Lesser golden plovers like to rest along the south coast of Kasumigaura. You can find them anywhere, from Ami-machi to Sakuragawa-mura. Highlight of this Sunday morning were besides the problems we had with the snipes (I dare to bet we have seen "un"-common snipes, but which one...), a Wood sandpiper and a female PAINTED SNIP. The last was a new species for both of us. It is a curious looking bird. At first sight lacking elegance with its short bill and tail and bulky appearance. It is able to press itself almost entirely flat in the mud. Then it blends entirely with the background.

Song is peculiar loud repeated toad-like Poh, poh, poh, ... middle high of pitch. There is also a softer shorter cal Poh, poh ,... which is lower and less frequent. The bird produces the sound sitting or perhaps more enthousiast standing. From flat low position it has to raise it self. The whole body takes part in the calling: body grows and shrinks in synchrony with the calls. The white lines om the wing widen and thereby light up during the call. In the Fieldguide of the Birds of Japan, the picture showing the back the female Painted Snipe depicts apparently a calling female.

Yatsu tidal flat and Sanbanze, April 19, 97.

Participants: Atsushi Matsui and Fer-Jan de Vries.
Weather: sunny (18 degrees celsius) after rain in the very early morning. Time: Yatsu 13.00-16.30. Sanbanze: 17.30-18.30.
  1. Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo [Kawa-u]: Yatsu, 5 ex.
  2. Spot-billed duck Anas poecilorhyncha [Karu-gamo] Yatsu, 2.
  3. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata [Hashibiro-gamo] Yatsu, 1.
  4. Green-winged Teal Anas crecca crecca [Ko-gamo] Yatsu, at least 45.
  5. Gadwall Anas strepera [Okayoshi-gamo] Yatsu, 2.
  6. Northern Pintail Anas acuta [Onaga-gamo] Yatsu, 1.
  7. Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope [Hidori-gamo] Yatsu, 6.
  8. Greater scaup Aythya marila [Suzu-gamo] Sanbanze, at least 15.
  9. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus [Yuri-kamome]: Yatsu, at least 300.
  10. Little tern Sterna albifrons [Ko-ajisashi] Yatsu, 3 ex.
  11. Little egret Egretta garzetta [Ko-sagi]: Yatsu, several.
  12. Great egret Egretta alba [Dai-sagi] Sanbanze, at least 10.
  13. Gray heron Ardea cinerea [Ao-sagi] Yatsu, 2.
  14. Common Gallinule Gallinula chloropus [Ban] Yatsu, 1.
  15. Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius [Kochidori]: Yatsu, 2. Sanbanze, several.
  16. Snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus [Shiro-chidori]: Yatsu, 2.
  17. Mongolian plover Charadrius mongolus [Medai-chidori] Yatsu, at least 80. Sanbanze, at least 60.
  18. Black-bellied plover Pluvialis squatarola [Daizen]: Yatsu, at least 100. Sanbanze, several.
  19. Lesser golden plover Pluvialis dominica [Munaguro] Yatsu, 1 male.
  20. Rufous-necked stint Caladris ruficollis [Tounen]: Yatsu, 8 ex.
  21. Dunlin Caladris alpina [Hama-shigi]: Yatsu, at least 900. Sanbanze, several.
  22. Great knot Calidris tenuirostris [Oba-shigi]: Yatsu, 3.
  23. Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa [Ou-guro-shigi]: Yatsu, 3.
  24. Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica [Ou-sorihashi-shigi]: Yatsu, at least 90. Sanbanze, several.
  25. Rudy turnstone Arenaria interpres [Kyoujo-shigi] Yatsu, 5. Sanbanze, 1 ex.
  26. Eastern curlew Numenius madagascariensis [Houroku-shigi]: Yatsu, 1.
  27. Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus [Chuushaku-shigi] Yatsu, 3. Sanbanze, at least 10.
  28. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus [Seitaka-shigi]: Yatsu, 14 ex.
  29. Rufous turtle dove Streptopelia orientalis [Kiji-bato]: Yatsu, several.
  30. Skylark Alauda arvensis [Hibari]: Yatsu, several.
  31. White wagtail Motacilla alba [Haku-sekirei] Yatsu, several.
  32. Tree sparrow Passer montanus [Suzume]: Yatsu, several.
  33. Gray starling Sturnus cineraceus [Mukudori]: Yatsu, several.
  34. Carrion crow Corvus corone [Hashiboso-garasu]: Yatsu, 1.
  35. Jungle crow Corvus macrorhynchos [Hashibuto-garasu]: Yatsu, several.

South coast of Kasumigaura, April 20, 97

Participants: Neil Fergusson and Fer-Jan de Vries.
Weather: overcast, stiff NW wind (16 degree celsius)
  1. Little grebe Podiceps ruficollis [Kaitsuburi] In total at least 30.
  2. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo [Kawa-u] At least 5.
  3. Spot-billed duck Anas poecilorhyncha [Karu-gamo] At least 10.
  4. Mallard Anas Platyrhynchos [ Ma-gamo] At least 5.
  5. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata [Hashibiro-gamo] 2 ex.
  6. Green-winged Teal Anas crecca crecca [Ko-gamo] At least 200.
  7. Tufted duck Aythya fuligula [Kinkuro-hajiro] April 20, 4 ex.
  8. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus [Yuri-kamome] In the middle of the lake at least 500 ex.
  9. Little egret Egretta garzetta [Ko-sagi] Several.
  10. Intermediate egret Egretta intermedia [Chuu-sagi] Several.
  11. Great egret Egretta alba [Dai-sagi] Few.
  12. Gray heron Ardea cinerea [Ao-sagi] 2 ex.
  13. Coot Fulica atra [Ou-ban] Several.
  14. Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius [Kochidori] At least 7.
  15. Snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus [Shiro-chidori] 2 ex. near Sugazu.
  16. Lesser golden plover Pluvialis dominica [Daizen] Almost 200, at 7 different locations, from Ami to Ukishima.
  17. Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola [Takabu-shigi] 1 ex. Edosaki.
  18. Common sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos[Iso-shigi] 2 ex.
  19. Rudy turnstone Arenaria interpres [Kyoujo-shigi] 4 ex, near Edosaki. Three of them in field with Lesser Golden plover.
  20. Common snipe Gallinago gallinago [Ta-shigi] At least 15 ex. Apparently less than a week ago.
  21. Painted snipe Rostratula benghalensis [Tama-shigi] 1 female. In a "soaked" but not inundated field with some sparse grasses. (In field close to hillside and blue house, direct east of the channel, following the area with the landfill...)
  22. Gray-faced buzzard-eagle Butastur indicus [Sashiba] 1 ex on wire along Route 125 near Edosaki.
  23. Rufous turtle dove Streptopelia orientalis [Kiji-bato] Few.
  24. Skylark Alauda arvensis [Hibari] Several
  25. Barn swallow Hirundo rustica [Tsubame] Few.
  26. White wagtail Haku-sekirei [Motacilla alba] Some.
  27. Japanese wagtail Motacilla grandis [Seguro-sekirei] Several.
  28. Water pipit Anthus spinoletta [Tahibari] At least 20.
  29. Brown-eared bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis [Hiyodori] Several.
  30. Bull-headed shrike Lanius bucephalus [Mozu] 1 ex.
  31. Dusky thrush Turdus naumanni [Tsugumi] Seemed to be in fewer number than one week ago. Still at many places.
  32. Bush warbler Cettia diphone [Uguisu] Few.
  33. Fan-tailed warbler Cisticola juncidis [Sekka] Several.
  34. Siberian meadow bunting Emberiza cioides [Hoojiro] 1 ex. singing.
  35. Black-faced bunting Emberiza spodocephala [Aoji] Several.
  36. Japanese reed bunting Emberiza yessoensis [Ko-jurin] 1 ex, Ukishima.
  37. Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus [Ou-jurin] Several.
  38. Oriental greenfinch Carduelis sinica [Kawarahiwa] Group of 30 ex.
  39. Tree sparrow Passer montanus [Suzume] No large groups anymore.
  40. Gray starling Sturnus cineraceus [Mukudori]
  41. Jungle crow Corvus macrorhynchos [Hashibuto-garasu]

>Back to previous page Last modified: April 20, 1997.