Monday, March 28, 2011

Black-tailed Gull in Okinawa, Japan: What's Up With That? (Photos)

Sunday, March 20th 2011, I was on my way to the UNESCO Castle (Zakimi-jo) to take a few photos but, couldn't resist stopping along the way to see if any birds were along the shore.

Sometimes I'll spot osprey diving for fish but, the tide just wasn't right and it was cloudy so there wasn't much activity.  Totally unprepared was the mode I was in when this big bird swooped down out of nowhere and I grabbed the camera off the tripod firing away in bursts trying to catch, what I thought might have been an osprey.  It flew so close overhead, a few times, all I caught was a frame full of a blurred wing.

Once the speed demon landed, I knew I had something other than what I expected.  I'm fairly certain this is a Black-tailed Gull ( Larus crassirostris ) but posting this kinda hastily, before I forget.  The genuine bird experts will jump all over me if I'm wrong and I welcome them. Corrections can always be made.

It took me awhile but, I managed to catch the seagull in as many decent poses as I could to make a positive identification.  The true birder knows much more about these birds than I ever will.  They can tell if it's a male, female, its age and whether it's mating season, or not, just by looking at it from different angles. All I know for sure, is this is some kind of seagull.  And, get this:

                                                 SEAGULLS DON'T LIVE ON OKINAWA !

Every now and again a seagull might follow a ship from China, Korea or mainland Japan and visit here.  This is the first time, in all my years, I've ever spotted a seagull on Okinawa.

Way back when I was a college student, here, one of my professors told us the reason there are no seagulls on Okinawa.  There is something in the coastal waters related to the indigo dyeing process that kills these birds. So, if they followed a ship into port, they need to follow it back to wherever it came from unless they plan on spending the rest of their life on death row.

This bird wasn't near any seaport; no ships in site.  I hung around and shot lots of photos, just because I thought it was so unusual to see a seagull in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan. 

Well, yesterday I came across this PACIFIC WILDLIFE IMPACT FROM THE JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI article at Matador Change and it got me thinking, maybe these birds know something we don't know. 

Why did a Black-tailed Gull decide to move to Okinawa, Japan ?   What's up with that ?


DaninJapan said...

Hi Mike,

Just going through some of my flickr posts and saw your link to this page on one of my gull shots. This isn't a Black-Tailed Gull! It has pink legs! Juv. Slaty-backed would be my guess.


RyukyuMike said...

Thanks. You da man! Have to go an research this further and, get this correct.