Friday, September 23, 2016

Birds of Okinawa

Like many islands, Okinawa is full of endemics (species found nowhere else). We were lucky enough to have superb views to both male and female Okinawa woodpeckers as well as a family of Ryukyu robins complete with demanding fledgelings. The Ryukyu scops owl calls almost incessantly in the evenings when we were looking for elusive rhino beetles (Trypoxylus dichotomus). And of course the flightless Okinawa rail, with it's lipstick red bill and legs was a real highlight. Well worth sleeping in the car for a few hours in between nocturnal beetling and dawn, to see the rails when they were most active and busy feeding along route 2, which runs through the Yanbaru forest in the north of Okinawa. There are very sweet signs in Japanese and other languages all along the road, possibly marking the spots of previous rail roadkills. We were also most impressed by the conservation efforts to save the rails, which include a rather successful anti-mongoose fence across the island of Okinawa.

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