Okku-Nikko and environs in Tochigi-prefecture, April 15-17,1998

I was lucky and could choose the lodge Nikko Ryuuzu-Yama-no-Ie (Shyobu-ga-hama, Nikko-shi, Tochigi-ken. Tel: 0288-55-0261.) as the site for our seminar.

The weather turned out to be excellent. Remember the rain of April 13-15! In the afternoon of April 15 it became dry and April 16 was sunny and even warm most of the day. Clouds entered the highlands late in the afternoon, and April 17 brought rain again on the slopes below Nikko. Temperature was pleasant, at least 15. Hardly any wind.

I walked in the area north (via the Ryuuzu falls to Senjougahara) and west (Takayama) of the lodge. (Note that the lodge is reachable by bus from Nikko station!)

The heavy rainfall on the morning of the 15th and the few days before had melted almost all the snow in Nikko. Only on the slopes of the higher mountains snow was visible. A lower mountain like Takayama had made snowfree by the rain.

  • The water of the Ryuuzu-falls was brown and violent on the 15th. No Dippers. Only on April 17 I could see one, then the water seemed blue and white again.
  • On the morning of April 17 I could see and hear the courtship of one Latham snipe.
  • On April 16, I could see two Hodgson's Hawk Eagles [Kumataka] flying along the western edge of Senjogahara. Larger than Common buzzard. Long tail, long, rounded wings light underneath. Not soaring or circling but flying in long guirlandes over a long distance, say 2 km: slowly upwards, slowly downwards meanwhile giving clear whistling calls, not mewing.
  • For a number of species this must have been their first spring presence at Nikko of this year...
    1. Mallard Anas Platyrhynchos [Ma-gamo] April 15-17. More than 12 all in the rivers of Senjougahara
    2. Hodgson's Hawk Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis [Kuma-taka] April 16. 2 ex above Senjougahara. See above.
    3. Common buzzard Buteo buteo [Nosuri] April 15-16. In total 5 ex on Senjougahara
    4. Black Kite Milvus migrans [Tobi] April 15 1 ex near Nikko.
    5. Latham's snipe Gallinago hardwickii [Ouji-shigi] April 17. 1 ex. calling and diving above Senjougahara.
    6. White-rumped swift Apus pacificus [Amatsubame] 5 ex near Nikko, April 15.
    7. Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major [Akagera] Most abundant woodpecker, at least 30 ex. April 15-17.
    8. Japanese pygmy woodpecker Dendrocopos kizuki [Kogera] Clearly less abundant woodpecker, at least 10 ex. April 15-17.
    9. Barn swallow Hirundo rustica [Tsubame] April 15, Nikko. 10 ex.
    10. Gray wagtail Ki-sekirei [Motacilla cinerea] Along Ryuuzu falls, 5 ex. April 15-17.
    11. Indian tree pipit Anthus hodgsoni [Binzui] April 16, Takayama. 1 ex.
    12. Brown-eared bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis [Hiyodori] April 15, Nikko.
    13. Brown dipper Cinclus pallasii [Kawagarasu] April 17, Ryuuzu falls.
    14. Winter wren Troglodytes troglodytes [Misosazai] Abundant. April 15-17. At least 50 ex. Singing everywhere.
    15. Japanese robin Erithacus akahige [Komadori] 2 ex singing. Takayama, April 16.
    16. Siberian Bluechat Tarsiger cyanurus [Ruri-bitaki] 12 ex singing. Takayama, April 16.
    17. Goldcrest Regulus regulus [Kikuitadaki] 6 ex singing. Takayama, April 16.
    18. Stonechat Saxicola torquata [No-bitaki] 2 males. Senjougahara, April 15.
    19. Dusky thrush Turdus naumanni [Tsugumi] At many places, April 15-17. At least 30 ex.
    20. Bush warbler Cettia diphone [Uguisu] At many places, April 15-17. At least 15 ex.
    21. Willow tit Parus montanus [Ko-kara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 100 ex.
    22. Great tit Parus major [Shijuu-kara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 50 ex.
    23. Coal tit Parus ater [Hi-gara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 50 ex.
    24. Long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus [Enaga] Takayama, April 16. At least 5 ex.
    25. Nuthatch Sitta europaea [Gojuu-kara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 50 ex.
    26. Common Treecreeper Certhia familiaris [Kibashiri] Takayama, April 16. At least 2 ex.
    27. Siberian meadow bunting Emberiza cioides [Hoojiro] Takayama, April 16. At least 5 ex.
    28. Black-faced bunting Emberiza spodocephala [Aoji] Senjougahara, April 17. 1 ex singing.
    29. Oriental greenfinch Kawarahiwa [Carduelis sinica] Nikko. April 17.
    30. Siskin Carduelis spinus [Ma-hiwa] Takayama, April 16, on group of 15 ex.
    31. Tree sparrow Passer montanus [Suzume] Around lodge. 4 ex. April 15-17.
    32. Russet sparrow Passer rutilans [Nyuunai-uzume] In Forest along Ryuuzu falls, at least 6 ex. April 17.
    33. Jay Garrulus glandarius [Kakesu] Around the top of Takayama at least 10 ex. Very verbal. April 16.
    34. Jungle crow Hashibuto-garasu [Corvus macrorhynchos] Several individuals. April 15-17.

  • Mammals
  • Butterflies among others:
  • Low croacking sounds of frogs or toads could be heard along the rivers.
    Back to previous page Last modified: April 19, 1998. Fer-Jan de Vries.