Owls of Okinawa by Shawn Miller

Okinawa has three resident species of Owls. They generally live in trees in mountain forests,  forest parks and sometimes in residential areas.  All three owls are fairly small (20-33cm). They are hard to find in the day, but as night falls their large shiny eyes give them away. These beautiful night dwellers feed on small lizards, rodents, frogs and insects.

The Collard Scops-owl (Otus lempiji) has beautiful red eyes and short pointy ears. It can be challenging to photograph owls. You have to be fast acting with your camera, the owls will fly off quickly after a few photographs.

This is an example of undesirable red eye reflected (Red-eye) below.  You generally want to try to avoid this but, I only had had a few shots with the flash on the camera, pointing straight at the owl high in a tree.

Collard Scops-owl - Okuma resort

Collard Scops-owl – Okuma resort

Collard Scops-owl - Yanbaru forest

Collard Scops-owl – Yanbaru forest

The Brown hawk owl (Ninox scutulata) is the most abundant of the three small owls. It has beautiful bright yellow eyes. This owl looks more like a hawk than an owl.

Brown hawk owl (Ninox scutulata)

Brown hawk owl (Ninox scutulata)

Brown hawk owl - Izena Island

Brown hawk owl – Izena Island

The Ryukyu scops owl (Otus elegans) is mainly found in the northern part of Okinawa. The Yanbaru forest is a designated wildlife protection area.

Ryukyu Scops Owl -Yanbaru

Ryukyu Scops Owl -Yanbaru

The owls are often found hunting on forest roads. The insects are attracted to the roadside lights which bring in the owls. The bush cricket (Mecopoda elongata) is one of their favourite meals.

Bush cricket (Mecopoda elongata)

Bush cricket (Mecopoda elongata)

I  wonder if the owls can see fluorescence. Many of the stick bugs, grasshoppers and crickets fluoresce under blue light,

Katydid under blue light

Katydid under blue light

Sadly I have seen more dead owls than alive!

Hawk owl - Ogimi village

Hawk owl – Ogimi village

Let’s protect the wildlife of the Yanbaru forest. Have a great day!

Anemone-fish of the Ryukyu Islands by Shawn Miller

Have you ever wondered how many species of anemonefish are found in the beautiful waters of Okinawa?  There are six anemonefishes found here. Most are found in shallow water and all live in a venomous sea anemone for protection. Their biggest threats are over-collecting.

(1) Nemo – Is known as the false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris). In my opinion is the most beautiful anemone fish of the Ryukyu Islands.

 false clownfish  (Amphiprion ocellaris)

false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) © Shawn Miller

The false clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) photographed in black & white.

false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) © Shawn Miller

(2) The Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) is the most abundant anemonefish found here. The juveniles sometimes have multiple white stripes.

 Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus)

Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) © Shawn Miller

Sometimes the Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus)  can be found in large colonies with over sixty fish living together in multiple sea anemones.

 Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus)

Tomato anemonefish colony © Shawn Miller

The Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) in black & white.

© Shawn Miller

Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) © Shawn Miller

 (3) Clark’s anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii ) is fairly common as well. A tough anemonefish for sure! 

Clark's anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii )

Clark’s anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii ) © Shawn Miller

The juveniles are often found in small nursery anemones. Is it possible these baby anemone fish see the fluorescence of the anemone?  I have always wondered how the hatchlings find a small anemone far away for a reef.

Clark's anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii ) and fluorescence

Clark’s anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii ) and fluorescence © Shawn Miller

 For some strange reason, the Clarks anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) turns dark black when living in the giant carpet sea anemone.

black Clark's anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii )

black Clark’s anemonefish ( Amphiprion clarkii ) © Shawn Miller

(4) The orange anemonefish (Amphiprion sandaracinos) is uncommon here. They all have a white dorsal stripe running from the lip to the tail.

Orange anemonefish (Amphiprion sandaracinos)

Orange anemonefish (Amphiprion sandaracinos) © Shawn Miller

5) The saddle anemonefish (Amphiprion polymnus) is scarce here. They are usually found living in a large carpet anemone around white fine sand.

saddle anemonefish (Amphiprion polymnus)

saddle anemonefish (Amphiprion polymnus) © Shawn Miller

(6) The pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) is fairly common here. They all have a white dorsal stripe running from the eyes to the tail and a narrow white head bar.

pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)

pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) © Shawn Miller

The pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) in black & white.

pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)

pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) © Shawn Miller

The three-spotted damselfish (Dascyllus trimaculatus) seeks shelter in sea anemones at the juvenile stage for protection. It leaves the anemone when its ready and never comes back.

The three-spotted damselfish (Dascyllus trimaculatus) seek shelter in sea anemones at the juvenile stage for protection.

The three-spotted damselfish (Dascyllus trimaculatus) © Shawn Miller

Okinawa offers some of the best shore diving in the world.  What are you waiting for!

Have a great day!

Ryukyu ken – Dogs of Okinawa by Shawn Miller

Ryukyu-ken is scarce breed of dog found on the Island of Okinawa. In the past, these dogs were used to hunt down wild boars in the Yanbaru forest. They are currently designated as an Okinawan national treasure. I have personally seen these dogs hunt wild birds and they have no problems catching them. The Ryukyu ken has a great sense of smell. They can smell their pray from far away. These smart dogs are outstanding hunters.

Ryukyu Ken - Kin Okinawa

Ryukyu Ken - © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu-ken

Ryukyu-ken © Shawn Miller

Its impressive that these dogs hunt such a large powerful animal. Ryukyu wild boar (Sus scrofa).

Ryukyu wild boar (sus scrofa) This is a common wild boar found in Okinawa,

Ryukyu wild boar (sus scrofa) © Shawn Miller

I was out searching for birds and saw this beautiful male Ryukyu Inu. I knew he was out on a hunting mission.  It was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

Ryukyu Enu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Enu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu native dog ready for the hunt © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog

Ryukyu Inu -Okinawan native dog © Shawn Miller

I often would see the Master walking his dogs on the beach and one day I finally asked him if I could photograph him and his dogs.

Master and his Ryukyu Ken

Master and his Ryukyu Ken © Shawn Miller

Master walking his Ryukyu Dogs

Master walking his Ryukyu Dogs © Shawn Miller

I often find some of the most interesting dogs on my photographic adventures exploring the Island. I try to capture their unique personality.  Below are some of my favorite dogs.

Okinawan dog

Okinawan dog © Shawn Miller

Ryukyu guard dog

Ryukyu guard dog © Shawn Miller

Okinawan dog - Ogimi Village

Okinawan dog © Shawn Miller

Okinawa dog - chained up

Okinawa dog – chained up © Shawn Miller

Poochie the wonder dog

Poochie the wonder dog © Shawn Miller

Dogs of Okinawa

Dogs of Okinawa © Shawn Miller

Dogs of oKinawa

Dogs of OKinawa © Shawn Miller

Sometimes on my adventures I run into aggressive dogs.  They are just protecting their territory.  I respect their space and leave the scene.

Okinawan dog

Okinawan dog © Shawn Miller

Dogs of Okinawa

Dogs of Okinawa © Shawn Miller

Dogs of Okinawa

Dogs of Okinawa © Shawn Miller

Dogs of Okinawa

Dogs of Okinawa © Shawn Miller

Sometimes I run into kind photogenic dogs that love their photograph taken.

Shima  -Ryukyu dog

Shima -Ryukyu dog © Shawn Miller

Cheetah like speed

Cheetah like speed © Shawn Miller

Okinawan dog with style

Okinawan dog with style © Shawn Miller

Dogs of Okinawa

Dogs of Okinawa © Shawn Miller

Scuba dog -Maeda point

Scuba dog -Maeda point © Shawn Miller

Bear and Master Willson

Bear and Master Willson © Shawn Miller

Have a great day!

 

Ryukyu flying fox – Bats of Okinawa

The Ryukyu flying fox is the largest bat found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. This large bat often startles people on night walks. No need to worry, it is not a threat to humans. This large fruit bat feeds on fruit, seeds and nectar. It is currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN list of Threatened species.

  • Scientific name: Pteropus dasymallus
  • Common name: Ryukyu flying fox and fruit bat
  • Distribution: Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat: Dense forests and neighborhood parks 
  • Diet: Fruit, seeds and nectar
  • Average size: 300-350mm
  • Color: Brown and orange

These large fruit bats are nocturnal and feed during the night.

Ryukyu flying fox

Ryukyu flying fox

They can also be found during the day hiding high up in trees.

Ryukyu flying fox

Ryukyu flying fox

Fruit bat in Ryukyu pine tree

Fruit bat in Ryukyu pine tree

On rare occasions they can be found feeding on the cherry blossoms in daylight.

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Ryukyu flying fox

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Ryukyu flying fox feeding on cherry blossoms

A mother and young found in a secluded part of the Yanbaru forest.

Ryukyu flying fox with young

Ryukyu flying fox feeding

Have a great day!

 

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog (Odorrana narina) – Frogs of Okinawa

The Ryukyu tip-nosed frog ( Odorrana narina) is found in Northern Okinawa. This endemic frog is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list. It’s biggest threat is habitat loss.

  • Scientific name: Odorrana narina
  • Common name: Ryukyu tip-nosed frog
  • Distribution: Yanbaru forest, Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat: Forest streams and mountain slopes
  • Diet: Insects, centipedes and small invertebrates
  • Average size: 50mm – 75mm

 

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog – Stella 2000

The Ryukyu tip-nosed frog is a medium sized frog. It hides in holes and crevices in the daytime.

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog- WAM

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog –  Tokina 10-17mm

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog

Odorrana narina - frogs of Okinawa

Odorrana narina – frogs of Okinawa

It feeds during the night on small insects and centipedes.

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog -wide angle macro

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog -wide angle macro, Stella 2000

Photographed on white for the Meet Your Neighbours global biodiversity project. All images are uses for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

Meet Your Neighbours Project -Okinawa

Meet Your Neighbours Project -Okinawa

It is sometimes found on roads searching for food after heavy rains.

Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog -Red list

Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog -Red list

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Crossing wildlife- wide angle macro

Crossing wildlife- wide angle macro

Road kill- Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog

Road kill- Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

 

 

The King of the Yanbaru forest – Holst’s frog

The Holst’s frog ( Babina holsti ) is a rare species found  in northern Okinawa. It is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list. It is designated as a natural monument by the Okinawa Prefecture.  This large amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to habitat loss.

  • Scientific name: Babina holsti (Boulenger, 1892)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa-Japan
  • Habitat:  Forest streams 
  • Diet:  Insects, worms, snails and small reptiles
  • Average Size:  100mm -125mm
Rana holsti - Yanbaru forest

Rana holsti – Yanbaru forest

King of the Jungle

King of the Jungle

The Holst’s frog is the largest frog found on Okinawa. It hides in holes, crevices and small caves in the day.

Searching for food

Searching for food

This is a size comparison photograph taken with the iPhone 6s. This is a good size frog but they do get larger than this.

Comparison - Iphone6s

Comparison – Iphone6s

Photographed on white for the Meet Your Neighbours global biodiversity project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

MYN technique -Holst's frog

MYN technique -Holst’s frog

The juveniles have a dark brown patch on the top section of the body. They blend in very well with their habitat.

Juvenile Holst's frog

Juvenile Holst’s frog

They are sometimes found searching for food on the back roads of Northern Okinawa.

Juvenile Holst's frog - Yanbaru

Juvenile Holst’s frog – Yanbaru

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife! 

Crossing wildlife

Crossing wildlife

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

The Ryukyu Robin, Endemic birds of Okinawa

The Ryukyu Robin (Larvivora komadori namiyei)  is a subspecies endemic to northern Okinawa.  It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN red list of threatened species.  Its main threats are habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species.

  • Scientific name:  Larvivora komadori namiyei (Stejneger, 1887)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat:  Dense leaf littered forests 
  • Diet:  Earthworms, spiders, insects and fruit
  • Average Size:  140mm 

The Ryukyu robin in its natural habitat. The male has the distinctive black throat and face.

Male Ryukyu Robin

Male Ryukyu Robin, Yanbaru forest

The female Ryukyu robin perching on a guide rope at Hiji falls, Okinawa.

Female Ryukyu robin

Female Ryukyu robin (Larvivora komadori)

A male Ryukyu robin searching for insects on the ground.

Male Ryukyu robin

Male Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu Robin -Yanbaru forest

Ryukyu Robin -Yanbaru forest

Time for a nap on a fern tree.

Ryukyu robin resting

Ryukyu robin resting

These small birds are often seen early in the morning feeding on insects on the road. Watch your speed and pay particular attention between dusk and dawn.

Watch your speed!

Watch your speed!

A male Ryukyu robin that was killed by a speeding motor vehicle on Route 2 in northern Okinawa.

Roadkill  Larvivora komadori

Roadkill – January 17th 2016

Let’s protect the beautiful wildlife of Okinawa, Japan.

Have a great day!

 

Facing extinction – Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)

Ishikawa’s frog (Odorrana ishikawae) is the most beautiful frog found in Japan. It is only found in northern Okinawa and currently on the endangered species list. It is one of the many endemic species facing extinction due to habitat loss. Ishikawa’s frog is a designated national monument of Okinawa.

This is my favorite frog on Okinawa. I have only seen about a dozen in the last three years.

shikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)  Night dwelling in the Yanbaru forest, Okinawa

Ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)

They live around mountain streams in the Yanbaru forest. They hide in cracks and crevices in the rocks making it hard to photograph them at times.

Ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Adult Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)   ” out of the den “

They are also masters of camouflage. The unique pattern helps them blend into the moss and leaves on the riverside.

ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)       ” blending into the surrounding  “

If your lucky you might see a frog with blue skin

Blue Ishikawa's  Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)

Blue Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)

 

Iskikawa's frog searching for a meal

Iskikawa’s frog searching for a meal

Photographing the frog on white ( MYN technique ) isolates the subject without any distractions. The images are used for conversation awareness and educational purposes.

ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)     MYN  - Isolation Technique

A juvenile Ishikawa’s frog searching for food.  (Wide angle perspective)

herpetologists dream come true - the find

herpetologists dream come true – the find

Sometimes they can bee seen crossing the road !

Crossing the road - Kunigami Village

Crossing the road – Kunigami Village

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog – Photographed using the L&M Stella 2000

Top view- Ishikawa's frog

Top view- Ishikawa’s frog

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Ishikawas frog - Roadkill

Ishikawas frog – Roadkill

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog -Wide angle macro photography

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa!