Friday, January 08, 2010

Tamagawa mizubenotori

For the last 2 years getting close enough to the egrets or heron along my part of the Tama River has been getting more and more difficult.

Not only are the birds very wary of both humans and their dogs, the habitat has changed. The river has been high enough that it almost always covers the small basalt island behind the homeless camp where many of both species---along with cormorants---would spend much of the day.

There are a few other "islands" which are slightly isolated from the majority of human/canine interlopers where the birds can get a little peace, but last summer one of those "sanctuaries" disappeared. It disappeared not because of nature, but because of man. I spotted a fellow damming up part of the river and thought perhaps he was doing it to catch fish. I wondered if it was legal to do so, but I suppose that it makes no difference.

The "dam" that he built has now been built up to the point that it has become a bridge to the island, resulting in it becoming a playground for parents, children, and dogs. Frankly, these folks appear to be either unaware of, or have absolutely zero concern for the pitiful remnants of wildlife there. Contrast that with some of the older guys I meet in the early morning who seem to know every species of bird along the river as well as the details---to the point of trivia---about the history of the river itself.

This egret was first one I have gotten within 30 meters of in over a year. Amazingly, it hung around as two families with dogs off-leash came down to where I was photographing and began running, screaming, and throwing rocks in the river. It wasn't until one of the dogs crossed the "bridge" to the island and came up behind the egret and started barking that the bird wisely left. So did I.

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