Posted by: soniahs | September 10, 2012

Urban animals of Japan

Because we were mainly in urban areas in Japan, we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife. Really, the deer in Nara were the only megafauna we saw; we were hiking in areas with wild monkeys a few times, but only saw signs warning of their apparent evil.

Seriously, do not mess with the monkeys! Sign from Fushimi Inari.

Of course, there were feral cats a few times, and the nutria in the Shimogamo River. But we didn’t see anything really cool like tanuki.

I did a fair amount of birding, though it was mostly opportunistic in the sense of carrying my binoculars around with me.

Birding at Kiyomizu-dera. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

The season and areas we were in weren’t really conducive to seeing a wide variety of birds, but I did see 45 different species (25 lifers).

Black-tailed Gull, Ueno Park.

The only raptor we saw was the Black Kite; there were a lot of these in Kyoto. We’d occasionally hear them calling from our hotel room window, and look out to see them riding thermals over the city.

Black Kite on right; Rock Pigeons on left.

We ended up seeing some neat invertebrates too. A wet day in Kyoto showed us a land planarian that was several inches long.

Pretty sure this is Bipalium kewense. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

I’m not very good at ID’ing insects, but we saw a lot of flying critters in riparian areas (including the giant hornet!). I have no idea what this one is (thankfully, it was not flying):

Seen near a stream in Higashiyama. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

And there were some insects in scenic places, like this caterpillar found on a jacket in the forest at Fushimi Inari:

Kind of a cute little guy. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

If we visit again, it would be nice to get into some less urbanized areas to see more wildlife. Maybe a Hokkaido trip in the future…

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