A few more Japanese islands

Here’s the last part of my “farewell Japan” trip report.

Tsushima Island: A gorgeous island (or, rather, two islands connected by a bridge), almost entirely forested, with endless mountains and fjord-like bays (often ending with neat little wetlands). The population is just over 30,000, virtually all of them in the southern part. Sika deer and introduced wild boar are abundant along forest roads at night. If you spend a full night driving along small roads in the interior you should see at least a few Japanese martens. Roads through more open coastal landscapes are better for Asian lesser white-toothed shrew and the island’s most popular animal, the leopard cat of northern subspecies euptilura. Aso Bay Park has diverse forest habitats with birdlike noctules and greater Japanese mice; it also has non-feral Norway rats that feed mostly on intertidal zone crustaceans, and a small wetland (34.312708N 129.351718E) where I saw a Siberian weasel. Ricefields and fallow fields around Sago Birdwatching Park (34.623456N 129.343367E) had Eurasian harvest mice, house mice and Japanese pipistrelles. Nearby, the vicinity of Tsushima Wildlife Center (34.643832N 129.323285E) had birdlike noctules flying around and a red-and-black myotis night-roosting in a tree above the parking lot. Watch for pit vipers along the stream there. An abandoned tunnel at 34.655393N 129.409796E had greater horseshoe bats and clusters of eastern bentwings and eastern long-fingered myotis. Another tunnel at 34.594843N 129.395816E had a night-roosting Alashan pipistrelle; I also saw another Siberian weasel on that road. A labyrinth of tunnels around Tome Artillery Battery (34.699095N 129.446574E, trailhead at 34.694243N 129.442701E) had more greater horseshoe bats and one eastern long-fingered myotis. I also found a Japanese shrew-mole, a lesser Japanese mouse, and an Ussuri tube-nosed bat along the access trail. The bat was picking up crickets from the ground. On the same trail I saw a greater horseshoe bat chasing a huge Saturnid moth; it was obvious the moth was using some kind of jamming because the bat missed twice. Then the moth landed on my chest and the bat didn’t dare pick it up.

Daito Islands: I had to fly there and return by ferry. I had great hopes for the ferry because it crosses a deepwater trench, but didn’t see any marine mammals. On Minami-Daito, the local subspecies of Ryukyu flying fox proved difficult to see well; there were a few flying around but I found only two feeding, around 25.837468N 131.234378E. Also saw introduced Japanese weasels and black rats. I spotted a mixed herd of melon-headed whales and false killer whales off the north coast and tried to swim out to them, but strong current made me turn back; I heard them well but only one false killer whale came close enough to be visible. I had only a few minutes on Kita-Daito and didn’t see anything interesting there.

Miyakejima: there are old bomb shelters with colonies of two spp. of horseshoe bats somewhere on the island, but I don’t have exact location and the folks at the visitor center couldn’t help. Saw a lesser Japanese mouse at Taro-ike (34.052834N 139.525085E) in broad daylight; elsewhere in Japan they are strictly nocturnal so might be an island thing. The ferry crossing was at night and I had to fly back to catch my plane to New York, so no pelagics.

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