The number of Pintails, Anas acuta, were counted when wintering at eight ponds around Tokyo, Japan. Two ponds were monitored weekly and six ponds were monitored monthly during the 2003-2004 wintering season (from November to February). Every pond was monitored monthly during the 2004-2005 wintering season. We found that: (1) the sex ratio of the wintering ducks varied between the ponds, (2) the sex ratios were generally biased and tended to be robust both within and between seasons, (3) the proportion of males was negatively correlated with the proportion of the ducks on land, and (4) females were observed more frequently on land than males.
When grazing upon secondary rice stems, Middendorff's Bean Goose Anser fabalis middendorffii, forages the lower stem parts but discards the upper parts. We examined the nutritional composition of these parts of secondary rice stem, and discovered that the lower stem parts are energetically superior to the upper stem parts. This might explain the selective grazing behaviour of Middendorff's Bean Goose on secondary rice stems.
A Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata was observed on Hegura Island, Ishikawa Prefecture, from 26th to 29th of September in 1999, two days after typhoon No. 18 of that year passed the northern sea area of the island. The bird was rather pale grayish-brown above and buffish white below, it had a high crown with a flattish forehead which appeared slightly rounded, a prominent brownish-white supercilium extended behind the eye with faint dark bordering along the upper edge (narrow in front of the eye and markedly broad at rear), a faint dark eye-stripe, a short and slender bill (shorter and finer than that of the Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis) formed by dark upper mandible and a pale lower mandible with a dark tip. The greater coverts comprised dark-centred feathers with pale fringes, with the remiges occasionally forming wing-panel in the secondaries, there was a short primary projection about half the length of the longest tertial, a grayish-brown square tail with pale edges of outer feathers, shorter undertail-coverts and a pale pinkish grey tarsus. The bird was active and often moving through undergrowth, but sometimes fed on the ground, hawked and perched on wire. The bird rarely vocalized, except once when it uttered a ‘chat’ in a low voice. This bird had features of four Hippolais spp. which have short and fine bills; the Booted H. caligata, Syke's H. rama, Eastern Olivaceous H. pallida and Western Olivaceous H. opaca Warblers. It was identified as a Booted Warbler because of 1) its rather round head, 2) obvious supercilium extending behind the eye with a faint dark bordering upper edge, 3) the contrast between dark centers and pale fringes in tertials, 4) the short bill with a dark-tipped lower mandible, and 5) its high activity. This is believed to be the first record of the Booted Warbler in Japan.
Research on the Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus indicus) was conducted on Shunkunitai Island, Nemuro, Hokkaido, Japan in July 1998. A total of 23 Water Rail individuals or pairs responded to playbacks of Water Rail calls. All observed Water Rails inhabited wet hollows between long, low dune ridges. We recorded 11 different call types, captured 21 Water Rails, and banded 16 of them. Seven adults showed new feather growth; six showed brood patches. All captured adults had black-and-white barred under-tail coverts. The average number of black-and-white barred outer median and lesser wing-coverts on the left wing (dorsal surface) was 14. We found eight different types of vegetation in the 23 Water Rail territories and around seven nests. Vegetation height was 1.17 m on average (excepting Utricularietum intermediae and Alnetalia japonicae). Fresh water in the wet hollows was above the average sea level because of natural barriers and dense vegetation; the depth of water or (floating) root bed was 4-60 cm. The acidity (pH) of the surface water was 5-8. Phragmites australis was a dominant cover vegetation. We found three nests that contained egg clutches. The average water depth around nests was 10 cm; average nest height, 17 cm; average outside diameter of nests, 22 cm; average diameter of the nest bowl, 12 cm; average egg size, 38.2×26.4 mm; and average egg weight, 14 g. The median maximum nest bowl depth was 6 cm. Breeding occurred from May to July. Plant species used as nest materials were those found in the immediate vicinity of the nest. Wind-dried nest material from four nests weighed 95 g on average.
Apalopteron familiare is a bird endemic to the Ogasawara Islands, and was first described by Kittlitz in 1831. However, as he did not indicate clearly a type locality, the island where he collected his type specimens was uncertain. The absence of any confirmed record of A. familiare from Chichijima since Kittlitz has led to the actual presence of this species in the Chichijima island group having been questioned. While reviewing old literature to assess the past distribution of A. familiare on Chichijima, we confirmed that Kittlitz did see A. familiare on Chichijima in 1828, indicating that A. familiare did once inhabit Chichijima but later became extinct.
To survey the present state of bird specimens kept in schools, we conducted a questionnaire in 2003 and 2004. Two methods were used: questionnaires were mailed directly to 1,958 schools, mainly public senior high schools founded before 1946, and prefectural boards of education and the questionnaire was placed on the website of our institute. A total of 984 schools replied, among which 495 kept bird specimens. In most cases the number of specimens they kept was less than 50, but a small number of schools kept more than 100 specimens. Mounted birds were the most common type of bird specimens in school collections. In a fairly large number of schools, specimens were identifiable to species from the labels or by teachers, but information of the capture locality and/or date were almost lacking. In more than 60% of the schools, specimens were preserved fairly well, whereas nearly half of the schools had damaged specimens. Following the categories of the Threatened Wildlife of Japan-Red Data Book-Vol. 2, Aves (2002, Ministry of the Environment ed.), At least 35 specimens of Nipponia nippon categorized as “Extinct in the Wild”, seven species categorized as “Critically Endangered” including 12 Ciconia boyciana and five Ketupa blakistoni, 12 species categorized as “Endangered” and 26 species categorized as “Vulnerable” were among the bird specimens listed. Twenty-eight per cent of the schools having specimens intended to discard their specimens in the near future, but a half of the schools had the intention to donate their specimens to proper institutes or museums if such organizations required them.
There have been five records of Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, from Hokkaido. All are capture records except for one that is unclear in detail. There has been no direct observation record. Among the four capture records, one was obtained in the latter half of September and three in early October. These occurrence records are markedly earlier than those in the southern half of Japan. There has been no record in winter seasons. It is highly probable that Bluethroat recorded in Hokkaido are accidental visitors while undergoing their autumn migration.
Providence Petrel (Pterodroma solandri) was protected on Yumigahama coast (35°29'N, 133°16'E) in Yonago city, western Japan on 22nd January, 2004. This is the first record of a Providence Petrel on Sea of Japan coast. The size of this bird was total length 41 cm, wingspan 100 cm, body weghit 360 g. The bird was released after its health recovered.