Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kyushu, Japan - September 2011

Almost at the end of our three weeks in Japan, we took the always ultra-fast, comfortable, reliable and pleasingly sci-fi Shinkansen (bullet train) - this time from Kobe, south-west through the latter third of Honshu, and through the entirety of Kyushu. Last stop, the island's southern hub of Kagoshima - a cosmopolitan, friendly city, built against lush forested hills on one side and the sprawling blue bay on the other.

Most dramatically, the city overlooks the Sakorajima volcano - sometimes visible, often active, always beautiful, and a fifteen minute ferry crossing away. For us, it banished its semi-permanent cloud halo, spat ash and cloud almost constantly, and generally performed impeccably.

Of birdlife on the volcanic island, tame, numerous and omnipresent Black-eared Kites dominated, exercising hunting skills on land and at sea; Oriental Turtle Doves, White-cheeked Starlings, Ospreys and Eastern Great Tits were also present, but ultimately played second fiddle to Red-bellied Rock Thrushes (see next post).

(This pretty candyfloss pattern was, in fact, typhoon Talas, which blazed a highly destructive trail through our 'home' prefecture - it took several hours journey on the Shinkansen to finally look out across a relatively intact and peaceful view outside.)

From Japan, southbound to the unique and alluring island of Taiwan, and not least its quality and quantity of avian delights....