Sunday, 23 November 2014

Winter Wildlife in Japan

At the Conoco Room on Friday 21 November we were honoured by the presence of the Chairman of LWT Board of Trustees Geoff Trinder.  In addition to his other duties, Geoff is a keen amateur photographer who has travelled through many countries taking pictures of wildlife in all it’s forms.  From his vast repertoire we were treated to some stunning pictures from his recent winter visit to Japan.
Starting with his arrival in Tokyo, we were given a flavour of life in this enormous city: a population of around 20 million where you will see very few non-Japanese.  Good transport links are essential for a city this size & these exist on 5 levels: 2 underground, 1 main rail & 2 road systems one on top of the other.  On the roads the rickshaw drivers are kept busy running around in their open-toed shoes & hats shaped like upturned woks!
Moving swiftly on to the wildlife, the first set of pictures showed the enormous Red-Crowned Cranes, up to 6 feet tall with a wing span of almost 7 feet.  More pictures followed of the graceful Whooper Swans & Sika Deer ( this deer species is wild in this country too & now inter-breeding with our native Red Deer).
To be a truly enthusiastic wildlife photographer you need to be prepared to rise very early in the morning: the next set of pictures were taken from sunrise in thick snow which meant Geoff had to be out of bed at 4.00 am!  Pictures included Red Fox, Dipper & Harlequin Ducks also some excellent photos of birds in flight including Black-Eared Kite, Slatey-Backed Gulls (similar to Lesser Great Black-Backed) & the magnificent yellow beaked White Tailed Stella Sea Eagles (larger than Golden Eagles). 
Back to the hotel now where we see a room sparse of furniture (most Japanese sit on the floor!) & a curious picture of a toilet with a touch control panel: recommend not to tamper with this without a training manual!  In the restaurant, food is meticulously presented but may be an acquired taste – fish & seafood seems to predominate & has a “chewy & slimy” consistency.  Chopsticks are normally used even with soup (which is quite thick) & slurping is encouraged as a sign that you like it!
Finally, some more fine pictures of Whooper Swans (very noisy), Brown Eared Bulbul, Varied Thrush & even a Tree Sparrow rounded off with some Japanese Macaques (otherwise known as Snow Monkeys) all with their own individual personalities.

The vote of thanks came from Brian Cooper given with a bow in true Japanese style!

As a footnote, Biff Vernon recommends a couple of wildlife books that are easy to read &, at the same time, full of interesting facts on bees & meadow wildlife, some insights into how scientific research is conducted and some profound implications for ecology and the future of our wildlife.
“A Buzz in the Meadow” & “A Sting in the Tail” both written by Dave Goulson.  

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