Friday, June 4, 2010

The Lotus Pheasant

"To English speakers in most (but not all) parts of the world, the jacanas' distribution in tropical areas makes them an 'exotic' bird. The word 'jacana' itself is borrowed from South American Spanish, in turn borrowed from Taino. Jacanas are alternatively known as 'water pheasants', 'lily-trotters', and 'lotus birds'.

'Water pheasants' reflects their similarity to 'pheasants'. This similarity gives rise to the Latin name Hydrophasianus as well as the official Chinese and Vietnamese names.

'Lily-trotters' and 'lotus birds' refers to their habit of walking on lotus leaves, a characteristic that is reflected in the Japanese name レンカク ren-kaku and the Chinese alternative name 莲角 lián-jiǎo." (source http://www.cjvlang.com/Birds/jacanidae.html)

It's been more than 2 weeks now since I first found the Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) at Sekino-e. It's the bird I've never expected to see in Japan. I wasn't even aware that the species exist here in this country. Though it is a common waterbird in tropical country like Thailand, I never got tired of watching it, especially in its magnificent breeding plumage. On Wednesday 25th last month, I surprisingly found one bird flying down into a lotus field while I was taking photos of the Whiskered Tern. I was so happy to find it here since it's a beautiful bird which I haven't got any decent photos of. However, the bird was way too shy for me to get any good shot in the first day. I later visit the place again in the next morning and this time I finally got some nice photos of the bird. It was still on its way moulting into a breeding plumage with some non-breeding features left on its face and underparts. Its elongated, pheasant-like tail is where the name's coming from. Unfortunately, the bird only stayed for 2 days so I couldn't have a chance to see it in its full breeding plumage. Hope I can find it again soon.

Look at those toes. Jacanas are equipped to walk on floating vegetation on the water surface, especially lotus.

Though it appears to be quite a small waterbird, it actually has a slow and beautiful flight. It looks very different in the air with its pure white wings. I tried to capture it in flight but the light was not so good and I couldn't get any decent flight shot of it. Anyway, you get the idea of how it looks like in the air.

5 comments:

Stu said...

Nice find, it seems very exotic to someone in Hokkaido.......

martesorex said...

Wow, レンカク is a yearning bird for Japanese birders.

Unravel said...

Thanks Stu and martesorex!
Wow I didn't know that it's a special bird for Japanese birders. I can't read much description from the bird guide I'm using because it's all in Japanese with some difficult kanjis....

Phil said...

An exotic find and how superb in flight,as you say not what you might expect. I think I saw ccommon jacana in India but never saw one fly like yours

Unravel said...

Maybe you have already seen this one, Phil. There are only 2 species of Jacanas in India, this one and the Bronze-winged Jacana, which is even more exotic in terms of colours. In winter the Pheasant-tailed looks totally different. It has short tail and plain brownish plumage overall.