Simple Pleasures of Birdwatching

I have long been a fan of birds in general, which sounds like a silly thing to say but is merely the truth. Being close to birds reveals such cleverness, such expressiveness, that it’s hard not to anthropomorphize them. Yet I have never really taken the time to get the kind of detailed knowledge that would allow me to, say, identify all the wild birds around me by call, or plumage, or flight pattern.

So, when I saw an ad in the local paper for a free birdwatching class at Suo no Mori Lodge, a nearby forest lodge, I signed right up. The class happened last Sunday, the 21st, and it was a hoot (har, har).

I learned the basics of the above, but I also found that simply being in a focused environment where every bird that passed was a subject worthy of scrutiny, that was worth paying close attention to, was a kind of blessing. Birds are all around us here in Hikari, so they often just melt into the background noise, but when you actually try to see them they are a treasure.

For example, I learned that I’ve been using “sparrow” as a kind of catch-all term for “little, round, brown birds in the bushes” but there are several species that all fit that name, and all of which have their own adorable-ness to enjoy.

There’s nothing really profound coming here, but I will say that focusing your awareness on the simple, common natural environment around you is deeply rewarding. If you have the chance, take it.

And now, the pictures, which are what you really want.

  • The silhouette of a bird—perhaps an oriental dove or a brown-eared bulbul—on an electric wire, with trees in the background.
  • Two male mallard ducks are perched on a tree branch projecting out of a river. Another is swimming in front of them. and a female is swimming off to the left among the other branches.
  • Two small birds in silhouette are on the side of a gravel road. They are meadow buntings, which look a lot like sparrows.
  • A small, round, brown bird with white patches on its wings—a female Daurian redstart—sits on a low concrete wall with weeds in the foreground and background.
  • A male Daurian redstart is perched at the very tip of a single tall weed far in the distance, with a green hillside in the background.
  • An overgrown camellia bush in full flower with a small, green warbling white-eye bird perched near a flower.
  • The foreground is filled with camellia blossoms, and a small green warbling white-eye is perched among them.
  • In the far distance, a sandpiper is wading in a green river near a gravel bank.
  • A small, yellow-brown shrike is looking at the camera from its perch on a telephone wire.

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