Since 2002, we have observed gull flocks at Chijiwa Beach in Tachibana Bay, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. The gull flocks consist mainly of Black-tailed Gulls Larus crassirostris and Vega Gulls L. vegae. These gulls stay at the beach between October and March. The Vega Gull generally has pinkish legs, but within these flocks some gulls, which look like Vega Gulls, have yellowish legs. Between January 2005 and March 2007 we counted the adult gulls, excluding Black-tailed Gulls and Slaty-backed Gulls L. schistisagus, and calculated the ratio of gulls with yellowish legs in the flocks as being 12.4%. In addition, we attempted to identify these gulls with yellowish legs, using the following characters: body size comparison with Black-tailed Gulls, Vega Gulls or Slaty-backed Gulls; colour of the orbital ring and iris; the dark streaking pattern of head plumage; timing of the moult; mantle colour brightness (Kodak Gray Scale: GS); wing projection (Fig. 1: C); and wingtip pattern. In late January 2006 and 2007, and late February 2007, we selected three gulls and photographed them. Based on the respective combination of the characters listed above we identified one as L. heuglini heuglini, another as L. fuscus graellsii/intermedius, and the third as L. glaucoides kumlieni. Given that gulls with yellowish legs comprise 12.4% of the gulls at the beach, it seems probable that gulls related to the Vega Gull, such as L. heuglini and L. fuscus, more frequently migrate in the winter period than had hitherto been believed.
The Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi occurs in the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, southern China, the Philippines and the Moluccas. It migrates to Japan at the beginning of April and its breeding has been confirmed only in Japan. Its detailed ecology was unknown and it was said to be a nocturnal species. Therefore, in order to clarify its daily behavior, I conducted a behavioral survey on one male and one female of the Japanese Night Heron in captivity in a hospital of a zoological garden from November to December 2008. I used a video tape recorder (VTR) and taped their movements for 24 consecutive hours for eight days and analyzed the video images. Activities such as foraging and walking on the ground were observed only in daytime and no activities were seen at night. During the night, they slept at a fixed roost without moving from it.
In September 2008, a newly dead Gray's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata was found on a ferry sailing from Kyushu to Amami-Oshima Island, Japan. The bird was a first-year male in good physical condition, and is considered to have arrived on the ferry during that journey, although the exact time and location of arrival was not confirmed. The cause of the death was inferred to be a collision with the ferry, an event not influenced by bad weather. It is widely believed that a large number of birds are killed at sea during migration. The collation and study of information on dead birds found on ships might contribute towards an understanding of migration in these species.
The first records of Gray's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata (three individuals) and Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata (three individuals) from Ehime Prefecture are reported, based upon bird banding research data and a collected carcass. Gray's Grasshopper Warbler was recorded in evergreen forest or bushes in September of three separate years, whereas the Lanceolated Warbler was recorded in beds in October of two years. These species are passage migrants in Ehime Prefecture.
To evaluate people's opinions concerning the release of the Japanese Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon, a questionnaire was mailed throughout Sado City, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. The 1,000 target individuals were selected randomly from within the 20 to 79 year age group. Results from the 591 respondents indicated almost 74% to have appreciated the release, and only 26% have neither agreed nor disagreed. The most common reason people gave for their appreciation was “they have lived here”, though only 16% of the people had actually seen the Japanese Crested Ibis in the wild. Their concerns related to the release were related mainly toward the success of the release rather than to any harm the birds might cause to crops. Especially, they worried about the released Japanese Crested Ibis survival. These results may be affected by the media like TV. Many people treated Japanese Crested Ibis as a local symbol, or a symbol of nature, and only a few viewed the bird as a potentially commercial venurte. Similar results were obtained from a questionnaire on the Oriental Storks Ciconia boyciana in Toyooka City. The releases in the past have been done far from the villages. This Japanese Crested Ibis release is the second case done near the villages, just after the release of the Oriental Storks. The sequential research will be done to compare the two questionnaires relating to the Oriental Stork and the Japanese Crested Ibis.
We have registered morphological specimens and materials for DNA analyses offered to the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology (YIO) since 1987. Initially, we registered bird carcasses for stuffed specimens and stuffed specimens donated to the YIO, in a series of notebooks. In the late 1990s, we began to collect tissue samples for DNA analyses. These samples were registered in another series of notebooks. From 2005, the information on bird carcasses was placed in a computer database, and tissue sample data integrated therein. Most of the bird carcasses were collected opportunistically throughout Japan, partly including banded birds with more information. From a bird carcass, a stuffed specimen and tissue samples (muscle and liver) were obtained, which are of use in DNA barcoding. The database software automatically allocated a unique accession number to each individual; this was supplemented with information on species name, collection locality and date, collector, donator and situations when collected. We took a series of standard measurements of each carcass (body weight, total length, wingspan, etc.), and then dissected it to record the reproductive organs. Subsequently, we prepared a museum specimen, mainly skin or skeleton, from the carcass. A label with a unique number with a prefix of YIO- was attached to each specimen. Each label included the following information: specimen number, accession number, species name, date, locality, sex, collector, donator and notes. As of March 2009, we have registered a total of 16,176 specimens, including 951 species, 115 families and 27 orders. The collection comprises 2,958 frozen carcasses, 6,529 specimens and 5,517 tissue samples. Shortage of space in the collection room and deep freezers is a persistent problem. It is necessary to establish a procedure to provide tissue samples for outside researchers.