Nature

Spring in Tokyo Bird Park / 東京港野鳥公園

There’s no better time to visit bird parks than in spring – the birds are out singing, the flowers are blooming and the insects are busy foraging.

Tokyo Bird Park is Tokyo’s largest bird park and was established in 1989. During the Tokyo Bay land reclamation project and the Ota Market construction project of the 1970s and 1980s, the area was a just cluster of random plots of natural grassland and ponds that formed after heavy rains.

Tokyo Bird Park is now a sanctuary for over 200 species of birds that visit every year. The park is only a 15 minute walk from Ryutsu Centre Station – near Ota Market and on the way to Narita International Airport.

Tokyo Bird Park is separated into an East and West wing. The West Wing has a small farm plot and a paddy field for growing rice. While the East Wing is the perfect place to spot birds because of the freshwater pond and salt marsh, the West Wing is where you’ll get see insects up close. Numerous species of bees, moths, butterflies, beetles and crickets are busy foraging for pollen and nectar in spring.

West Wing:

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Long Horned Bees or Eucera (Eucera sociabilis Smith): Euceras are a genus of bees in the Apidae family. Most bees in this family are solitary bees. Unlike social bees, all female solitary bees are fertile and build their own nests – there is no queen, division of labor and they do not produce honey or beeswax. This photograph was taken at the clover field in Tokyo Bird Park and shows a male Eucera sociabilis about to collect nectar from a white clover.

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Flower Chafers or Flower Beetles (part of the Scarabaeidae family): Flower Beetles are a group of Scarab Beetles and are commonly found foraging around flowers in spring. Adults feed on nectar, pollen, and petals, though certain species are known to feed on larvae of other insect. This photograph is of a Flower Beetle in the West Wing farm of Tokyo Bird Park.

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Red Bodied Swallowtail (belonging to either the AtrophaneuraByasaLosaria, or Pachliopta genus): Red Bodied Swallowtails are butterflies in the swallowtail family and are generally found in Asia. Certain species of Red Bodied Swallowtails are used as models for Batesian mimicry studies due its red patterns that act as a warning signal to predators.

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Katydid or Long Horned Grasshoppers (Tettigonia orientalis): Katydids generally feed on flowers, leaves and bark, but some species are predatory and even feed on organisms that are larger than itself. Tettigonia orientalis prefer to live on low ground and changes its diet from herbivorous to omnivorous as its transitions from larvae to adult. The brown stripe on its back is only visible during spring. This is a photograph of a Tettigonia orientalis collecting nectar from a flower.

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Fishing Spiders (Dolomedes): Most Fishing Spiders are semi-aquatic and hunt small fish or aquatic insects. Rather than building webs to catch its prey, it uses its legs to detect vibrations from ripples, which reveal the location and distance of the source (prey). It then moves towards the prey at a fast pace. Once captured, Fishing Spiders bring its prey to dry land and eats it. This photograph is of a Fishing Spider waiting for prey in the stream that runs between the rice paddy and small farm of the West Wing of Tokyo Bird Park.

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American Bullfrog (“Rana catesbeiana”): The American Bullfrog is an invasive species in Japan. It was introduced to Japan by an university professor in the early 1900s. Its population has boomed because of a lack of natural predators and it poses a threat to prey and also competes with other endemic amphibian species for food resources. It can often be found in freshwater habitats such as rice fields, ponds and rivers. This is a photograph of an American Bullfrog at the edge of the pond near the entrance of the West Wing.

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This photograph is of a spotting scope in the West Wing viewing hut. Visitors can borrow binoculars or use the numerous spotting scopes around the park to take a closer look at birds.

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Grey Herron (Ardea cinerea): This photograph is of a Grey Herron that was casually pacing past numerous frenzied crabs on the mud flats of the Brackish Water Pond in the East Wing.

 

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The photographs are of birds in the Freshwater Pond. The Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Spot-billed Ducks (Anas zonorhyncha) were spotted feeding in groups, ducking their heads deep into the water so their body was only visible from flank down. There were also a group of Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) nearby. Two Egrets were also spotted; a Great Egret (Aldea alba) and an Intermediate Egret (Egretta Intermedia). The Great Egret (Aldea alba) had bluish-green lores, an indication that breeding season has started.

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