Nature Japan: Great Egret

This is he first installment of a new Nature Profile series about Japan. I will profile various birds, insects and animals that can be found throughout Japan.

The Eastern Great Egret is a subspecies of the Great Egret ダイサギ and can be found in many parts of Japan throughout the year.

The Eastern Great Egret is a heron with all white plumage. Its bill is often black during breeding season and a yellow/orange color during other parts of the year.

This species can measure from 80-105cm and weighs between 0.7-1.2 kg. It can be easily distinguished from other egrets because of its long neck which can sometimes be one and a half times as long as its own body.

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Great Egret standing in a pond in Kobe, Japan on July 10th, 2016.

Eastern Great Egrets, sometimes known as Great White herons can be found throughout Japan along coastal areas, near lakes and ponds and often in farmer’s fields.

Their diet includes fish, retiles, small birds and rodents as well as insects, crustaceans and molluscs. They hunt by wading in water, standing still and then spearing their prey with their long bill.

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Eastern Great Egret hunting for fish. A smaller Little Egret (black bill and head plumage) can be seen nearby. 

These birds do remarkably well in urban areas in Japan and tend to feel little fear around people.

It is quite easy to get relatively close to Great Egrets to take good photos or simply observe them closely.

A quick trip to a rice farmer’s field or a shallow river in Japan and there is a good chance you’ll see one.

I’m lucky enough to see these stoic birds in a local park here in Kobe, Japan. They tend to enjoy feeding in Minami Park on Port Island in Kobe. Almost every time I go there I have the chance to photograph these wonderful creature.

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A Little Egret snags a fish for lunch while a larger Eastern Great Egret hunts in the background!

In the Kansai area, a great place to see large numbers of Egrets, Herons and Cormorants nesting and roosting is in Akashi Park in Akashi, Japan. Along the far side of the castle moat (in front of the park) you can often find cormorants and Black-crowned Night Herons roosting and inside the park near the large pond (with peddle boats for rent) you can see large numbers of herons and egrets roosting.

 

Sources of information: wikipedia, heronconservation.org, personal knowledge as a birder.

All photos are my own.

For more on birds and nature in Japan check out the Birds of Kansai Facebook page!

Follow on Twitter: @jlandkev

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