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,
For a number of species this must have been their first spring presence at Nikko of this year...
[Ma-gamo] April 15-17. More than 12 all in the rivers of Senjougahara
Hodgson's Hawk Eagle
[Kuma-taka] April 16. 2 ex above Senjougahara. See above.
[Nosuri] April 15-16. In total 5 ex on Senjougahara
[Tobi] April 15 1 ex near Nikko.
[Ouji-shigi] April 17. 1 ex. calling and diving above Senjougahara.
[Amatsubame] 5 ex near Nikko, April 15.
Great spotted woodpecker
[Akagera] Most abundant woodpecker, at least 30 ex. April 15-17.
Japanese pygmy woodpecker
[Kogera] Clearly less abundant woodpecker, at least 10 ex. April 15-17.
[Tsubame] April 15, Nikko. 10 ex.
[Motacilla cinerea] Along Ryuuzu falls, 5 ex. April 15-17.
Indian tree pipit
[Binzui] April 16, Takayama. 1 ex.
[Hiyodori] April 15, Nikko.
[Kawagarasu] April 17, Ryuuzu falls.
[Misosazai] Abundant. April 15-17. At least 50 ex. Singing everywhere.
[Komadori] 2 ex singing. Takayama, April 16.
[Ruri-bitaki] 12 ex singing. Takayama, April 16.
[Kikuitadaki] 6 ex singing. Takayama, April 16.
[No-bitaki] 2 males. Senjougahara, April 15.
[Tsugumi] At many places, April 15-17. At least 30 ex.
[Uguisu] At many places, April 15-17. At least 15 ex.
[Ko-kara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 100 ex.
[Shijuu-kara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 50 ex.
[Hi-gara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 50 ex.
[Enaga] Takayama, April 16. At least 5 ex.
[Gojuu-kara] At many places, April 15-17. At least 50 ex.
[Kibashiri] Takayama, April 16. At least 2 ex.
Siberian meadow bunting
[Hoojiro] Takayama, April 16. At least 5 ex.
[Aoji] Senjougahara, April 17. 1 ex singing.
[Carduelis sinica] Nikko. April 17.
[Ma-hiwa] Takayama, April 16, on group of 15 ex.
[Suzume] Around lodge. 4 ex. April 15-17.
[Nyuunai-uzume] In Forest along Ryuuzu falls, at least 6 ex. April 17.
[Kakesu] Around the top of Takayama at least 10 ex. Very verbal. April 16.
[Corvus macrorhynchos] Several individuals. April 15-17.
Butterflies among others:
Low croacking sounds of frogs or toads could be heard along the rivers.
- Sika deer Cervus nippon [Shika] Small groups could
be seen and heard all around the the lodge and Takayama. Many trees,
specially the "fir trees" had their skin completely removed at the
lower part of the stem. Pattern of fresh, small double cuts. Damaged trees of previous year seem to fall victim to insects and woodpeckers.
- Red fox Vulpes vulpes japonica [Kitsune] Fox could be smelled at various places along the Ryuuzu falls.
- Asiatic Black Bear Selenarctos thibetanus [Tsukinoguma]
Near the top of Takayama fresh scratchmarks on the trees (vertical scratches, sometime the skin has been removed by the scratching) (as well as old marks) a bolus (dark, segmented and pointed, 12 cm long, 1.5 cm wide. Smelly). heavy scent flags on nearby trees. The path we followed had not be trodden on for several days. (I wonder whether the thin trees which where half bitten through, with splints irregularly torn from the stem where malterated by bear as well, or by dear). On one beech tree perfect clawmarks (4-5 nails) of an upward climbing bear. The bears were most likely just awaken from hibernation.
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Last modified: April 19, 1998.
Fer-Jan de Vries.