Saturday, 4 May 2013

Chestnut-eared Bunting

Last Thursday morning, I visited one of Japan's Ramsar sites, Tadewara (タデ原) a highland marsh located in Oita Prefecture. I first took a train to Bungonakamura then caught a bus and dropped off at Kujuu Tozankuchi (九重登山口) where the visitor centre is located in front of the marsh. It is one of the few places in Kyushu where Latham's Snipes breed. Unfortunately, I went there much too early as the reeds have just started to grow from the recently burned ground. There was still little water in the marsh, so of course there was no snipe. However, there were quite many Chestnut-eared Buntings and they were much more approachable than any Chestnut-eared Buntings I've ever seen. No wonder why it's an icon of the marsh.

Male Chestnut-eared Bunting in breeding plumage

Feeding on the ground

I just love the pattern on its head and breast.

Female birds have buffish tone to the lores and crown with weaker breast band.

Another photo of the female

Breeding male Chestnut-eared Bunting

Looking out

I found a corner where these colourful buntings seemed to favour. They walked around quietly searching for seeds and insects. I was a bit surprised that still not many of them began singing. They mostly remained quiet. I could easily take photos of them by just laying down on the board walk waiting for them to come around. Sometimes they'd come even closer than 5m!

Tadewara Marshland

As you can see, the area was still dry.

More shots of the male Chestnut-eared Bunting

Showing colours and patterns on the hindneck


I barely need to crop these shots!

Final photo to end the post with

I'm planning to come back again in about 2-3 weeks. Hope the snipes arrive and start displaying by that time. I really want to see it before I leave Japan. Below is a video of the male bunting while perching and calling. This was taken by simply putting my camera down on the board walk. This is probably the best place to photograph this species.


  1. Wow - stunning! Hope you get the snipes!

  2. Excellent CEB shots, the species is so difficult to get close to, I can never manage it.

    You won't believe your ears when you hear the snipes the first time.........