Also, while walking Momo, we saw a male Japanese pheasant. I've seen them before (Momo accidentally flushed one out while walking with K last week and was pretty startled!). We hear their loud calling at times, but rarely see them. This one ran in front of us just 20 meters or so away. It ran across a freshly plowed field and finally took to the air to speed its escape. Beautiful bird.
Pheasants have been the subject of a lot of Japanese art throughout history, and even featured on paper money.
Weasels and pheasants are, of course, enemies, as the weasels eat eggs. K tells me that there were not so many birds around here when she was growing up, but due to humans, not weasels or other natural predators. The prefecture has since designated the area a "wildlife protection zone" and prohibits hunting, resulting a rebound of wildlife in recent years.
It's nice that there are still places for these animals to live, and that we get to enjoy them. I just hope the growing population of retiring baby boomers moving out here from the cities doesn't upset the balance as more land is cleared for housing.