2007/04/04

Weasels and Pheasants

I saw a Japanese weasel - "itachi" in Japanese - crossing the road the other day. First one I've seen. It looked a lot like a mongoose, which are common in Hawaii, except that it had beautiful red fur.


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.

Japan's Wildlife Protection System (English)

15 comments:

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Nice pics. Are people allowed to eat pheasants and weasels - though I wouldn't fancy either of them myself? That weasel though is a cute colour - not like the boring little dun coloured mongooses in Fiji.
w.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - those are "borrowed" pics. People wouldn't be allowed to hunt and eat weasel (I don't think).
Pheasant is a game bird and can be hunted in the appropriate areas of Japan. All hunting is prohibited in the area where we live. :)

PinkPanther said...

Oh...oh, now I know Momo is a mousy craven. ;-p 

Pheasant has colorful feathers, similar as peacocks.

Pheasant is a game bird?
As I know, people would use cocks as a game-cock (two cocks are fighting) in some cities of Mainland China. For gambling which one will be win.

Pandabonium said...

Hi Pink Panther - Yeah, Momo isn't much of a hunting dog, as she just finds birds by accident. But she likes to bark at the sparrows that come in the yard and act brave. :D

By "game bird" I just meant one that is hunted, not "game" like gambling. Same word, different meaning.

The Moody Minstrel said...

The abundance of wildlife in this area is one of the things I've always liked about it. Yes, there are weasels and pheasants. I've also had the pleasure of seeing swans, storks, tanuki (raccoon dogs), something I'm pretty sure was a fox, a bullfrog the size of a small cat, and at least one vividly-colored snake that I'm told is venomous (but not aggressive). I enjoy the din of various amphibians and insects at night. I also appreciate being serenaded by a mockingbird when I arrive at the school in the morning.

(What...the Moody Minstrel isn't complaining???!? WHAT'S WRONG???)

Then again, I don't appreciate the fact that a lot of those creatures wind up as roadkill...

(Never mind.)

Pandabonium said...

Moody - seen the snakes but the only raccoon dog I saw was over in your neck of the woods and sadly was road kill. Have never seen a fox or bullfrog here. Anyway, I like seeing and hearing all the critters too.

Happysurfer said...

That weasel has a nice colour and reminds me of Elmo of Sesame Street. I too get a thrill when I see these wild creatures. Around my neighbourhood, I've seen monitor lizards as long as a foot and a half. I wouldn't have noticed one the other day if not for the neighbourhood dogs barking at it.

We've got some wild hens (don't know what they're called though) around too and magpies and other birds and one time, a peacock came to visit which got a lot of people excited. Lots of monkeys here too. Snakes too which give me the creeps.

Snakes and lizards end up as roadkill.

Pandabonium said...

Happy - Elmo! Ha Ha! Well, I wouldn't try to tickle a weasel. ;)

I'm not crazy about getting close to snakes either(not since I was a kid anyways), but they can be beautiful to looks at.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I saw a weasel this evening as I was driving home. I saw one a couple of days ago, too. That's odd. It reminds me of a few months ago when I saw five road-killed tanuki in a one-week period. Is something weird going on?

Get out the foil hats!

Pandabonium said...

Moody - Interesting. Some environmental element that has changed at this time causing a baby boom with wild mammals?

Just speculation, but perhaps the warmer than average winter we had caused an increase in available foods down the chains that these guys feed on.

Weasels can eat mice, rabbits, birds, etc. and live 2 years in the wild.

According to an article I found, Raccoon dogs "will eat just about anything they can find, from rodents, lizards, frogs, ground birds, seeds, fruit, berries, insects, and spiders. They are able to eat even toxic frogs and toads."
I was surprised to learn that their life span is only 3 to 4 years in the wild.

So if there were a lot of mice or other food these guys like, perhaps that is the reason.

ladybug said...

Interesting, the weasel looks like an orange ferret, one of the new "cool" pets w/nose rings and full arm tattoos seem to favor nowadays, (Kind of like some skinny blond girls like to copy Paris Hilton and get a barky "kick" dog that fits in their purse..)

But I digress.

It's nice to see that amid all the megalopolis one thinks of Japan, that there's a small corner of nature!

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - I think those should be banned. (Paris Hilton, skinny blonds with nose rings, and tattoos, that is). :D

While Japan is overdeveloped in my view, there are a surprising amount of places that are not citified and also preserved areas of national parks. The image of one big city is due to the fact that is where the "news" is so that is what is seen on media.

I've decided to do some posts about a past trip to the Japan Alps. I think the pictures will surprise people. One area we visited looks a lot like the Colorado Rocky Mountains! I just need to get good scans as the pics aren't digital.

Robin said...

Yes, every living thing should be given a chance for survival and glad they still remain beautiful in the fight to be alive.

Being alive is being beautiful?

Happy Holidays!

QUASAR9 said...

We have pheasants galore in Cambridgeshire and East Anglia.
I think people positively encourage pheasant shoots to keep the numbers down.
And 'wild' peacocks too, can make noisy neighbours.

Of course they need to be protected when in decline, but it seems without natural predactors, and if 'over protected' they risk becoming 'pests' to be culled.

Like pigeons in the City, pigeons in trafalgar squared are regularly culled, they've just becomme too successful at surviving in the city streets - alas, City Life!

Pandabonium said...

Robin - happy holidays. being is.

quasar9 - I remember the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. When we upset the natural balance it is sometimes necessary to cull certain animal populations. Too bad.

With humans approaching 6,605,046,992 billion, up from 2,556,518,868 when I was born....no, I won't pose the obvious question.