Okinawa green tree frog – Ryukyu Islands

The Okinawa green tree frog ( Rhacophorus viridis viridis ) is found on Okinawa, Iheya and Kume Island.

  • Scientific name: Rhacophorus viridis viridis
  • Common name: Okinawa Green tree frog
  • Distribution: Okinawa, Kume, and Iheya.
  • Habitat: Forests, mountain slopes and farm fields near water.
  • Diet: Insects
  • Average size: 45mm-75mm
  • Color: Olive green, Bright green and dark brown
Okinawa Green tree frog

Okinawa Green tree frog

This beautiful frog is a master of camouflage.  I often find it resting on tree branches, blending in with the surrounding green leaves.

Natural habitat

Natural habitat

Green tree frog

Green tree frog

Breading season stretches from February to April on Okinawa.

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Green tree frog mating

On Kume Island the tree frogs transform to a golden brown when mating.

Kume Island tree frog

Kume Island tree frog

They construct a foam nest on a tree branch above a still water source. Eventually the foam liquefies when the eggs are ready to hatch.

Frog foam nest

Frog foam nest

Not all frogs survive to make the nest. The Akamata is the most common snake on the Okinawan Islands.  It feeds on venomous habu snakes, baby sea turtles, lizards and frogs.

Akamata feeding

Akamata feeding

Photographed on white for the Meet your Neighbours global biodiversity project.

MYN Technique

MYN Technique

MYN Technique

MYN Technique

Green tree frog

Green tree frog

I often find this frog searching for insects on the road.

Roadside green tree frog

Roadside green tree frog

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

 

 

Venomous snakes of Okinawa-Japan

 

Okinawa has three species of pit vipers and one coral snake. These venomous snakes are commonly found in the jungle. They are sometimes found in neighborhoods and local parks at nighttime during the summer season. Majority of the snake bites that I am familiar with happened on neighborhood night walks or harvesting sugar cane.  I have seen pit vipers on public roads at night, on sidewalks, crawling on fences, on rock walls, in drainage ditches and inside vending machines.

Habu in vending machine

Drink machine – Photo by Leia Heider

The Okinawan Habu is the largest and most venomous pit viper found on Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Trimeresurus flavoviridis
  • Common name: Okinawan or golden habu
  • Habitat: Rock walls, caves, tree lines, parks, farming fields and near fresh water
  • Diet: Mice, rats, shrews, bats and birds
  • Average size: 100-200cm
Okinawan Habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis)

Okinawan Habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis)

Fangs of the Okinawan Habu

Fangs of the Okinawan Habu

Okinawan habu -Northern Okinawa

Okinawan habu -Northern Okinawa

Okinawan Habu on a fence

Okinawan Habu on a fence -WAM perspective

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

A beautiful habu with silver eyes. A rare find in Okinawa.

Silver habu- eyes of silver

Silver habu- eyes of silver

Albino Habus are worshiped in Okinawa.

Albino Habu snake

Albino Habu snake

 

The Taiwanese Habu was introduced to Okinawa in the 1970′s. They were imported for exhibitions and medical purposes. Somehow a few escaped and have populated the Island.  I have seen over a dozen on my night hikes near Ryukyu Mura in Onna village.

  • Scientific name: Trimeresurus mucrosquamatus
  • Common name: Taiwanese habu or Brown spotted pit viper
  • Habitat: Rock walls, trees and caves
  • Diet: Frogs, bats, mice and birds
  • Average size: 80-150cm
Taiwanes habu- Onna village

Taiwanes habu- Onna village.  Ready to strike!

Taiwanese habu-

Taiwanese habu- patiently waiting for a frog

Taiwanese habu -Onna village, Okinawa

Taiwanese habu -Onna village, Okinawa

Taiwanese habu- neighborhood at night

Taiwanese habu- neighborhood at night

 

The Princess habu is the most common venomous snake on Okinawa. It is the smallest of the pit vipers found here.

  • Scientific name: Ovophis okinavensis
  • Common name: Princess habu or Hime habu
  • Habitat: Rivers, ponds, creeks and runoff ditches.
  • Diet: Mainly frogs
  • Average size: 40-80cm
Princess habu -Yanbaru

Princess habu -Yanbaru forest

Large Princes habu- Yanbaru

Large Princes habu- Yanbaru

Golden Hime habu

Golden Hime habu

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess Habu- Stella 2000

Princess Habu- Stella 2000

Princess habu - Northern Okinawa

Princess habu – Northern Okinawa

 

The Okinawan coral snake is extremely rare.  I have only seen two specimens

  • Scientific name: Sinomicrurus japonicus boettgeri
  • Common name: Okinawan coral snake
  • Habitat: Forest areas in northern Okinawa
  • Diet: blind snakes and small lizards
  • Average size: 30-60cm

photograph

 

 

Ways to avoid injury! 

  • Avoid catching or handling venomous snakes
  • Wear exposure protection, such as snake boots when exploring the forest at night.
  • Bring a flashlight on night walks in the neighborhood

Safety first or pay the worst!

 

 

 

The Art of Wide-Angle Macro Photography by Shawn Miller

Wide-angle macro photography is popular with wildlife photographers. The technique allows the photographer to document the animal in its natural habitat and show the full scene it lives in. The photographs have great impact and deliver a bug eye perspective using a wide angle lens. I generally use off camera flash with a custom soft box to make these photographs. Lately I have been testing a variety of on camera flashes to achieve a different perspective. One of the biggest challenges is lighting the subject evenly with soft diffused lighting.

The most popular lenses used for wide angle macro photography ( WAM )  

  • Tokina fisheye 10-17mm f3.5-4.5
  • Nikon fisheye 10.5mm f2.8
  • Sigma fisheye 15mm f2.8 E
  • Venus Laowa 15mm f4 –    (Manual focus only)

Here are some of my favorite wide-angle macro images photographed in Okinawa-Japan.

Fighting pose - Preying mantis, IPhone 6s

Fighting pose – Preying mantis, IPhone 6s

Hermit crabs of Okinawa

Hermit crabs of Okinawa

Geograpsus grayi with eggs

Geograpsus grayi with eggs

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog – The most beautiful frog in Japan

Horn-eyed ghost crab at sunset

Horn-eyed ghost crab at sunset -Nikon 10.5mm

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Herping in the yanbaru forest

Crabs with trash homes - Sesoko

Crabs with trash homes – Sesoko

Golden habu - WAM

Golden habu – WAM

Ghost crab - Nagahama beach

Ghost crab – Nagahama beach

Pryer's keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Pryer’s keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Baby loggerhead leaving the nest

Baby loggerhead leaving the nest

coconut rhinoceros beetle

Invasive – Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Blue rock-thrush with wings spread

Blue rock-thrush with wings spread

Princess habu -Yanbaru

Princess habu -Yanbaru

Kuroiwa's ground gecko crossing the road

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko crossing the road

Okinawan green tree frog

Okinawan green tree frog

Giant stag Beetle (Dorcus titanus)

Giant stag Beetle (Dorcus titanus) -Ie Island

Okinawa tip-nosed frog ( Rana narina )

Okinawa tip-nosed frog ( Rana narina )

Hermit crab at sunset

Hermit crab at sunset

Land crab crossing the road  at night

Land crab crossing the road at night

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

on the move- Black-breasted leaf turtle

On the move- Black-breasted leaf turtle

Asian long horned beetle

Asian long horned beetle

Crabs with trash homes-Yomitan

Crabs with trash homes-Yomitan

Road dweller- Namie's frog- Stella 2000

Road dweller- Namie’s frog- Stella 2000

Praying mantis

Praying mantis -with kenko 1.4 T

If you would like to learn more about this technique I recommend                                          Wide-Angle Macro: The Essential Guide by Clay Bolt and Paul Harcourt Davies   http://www.e-junkie.com/shop/product/482943.php

Anderson’s Crocodile Newt- Endangered species

Anderson’s crocodile newt is an endangered species found throughout the Ryukyu islands. It is designated as a living natural monument in Okinawa and is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species. This amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to poaching and deforestation. The newt is high valued in the illegal pet trade market and needs to protected. This is my favorite amphibian to photograph on my night adventures in Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Echinotriton andersoni
  • Distribution:  Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat:  Forests and wetlands
  • Diet:  Worms and snails
  • Average Size:  120mm -160mm

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

Anderson's crocodile newt

Anderson’s crocodile newt -MYN

Anderson’s crocodile newt in its natural habitat feeding on a earthworm.

Feeding ,Yanbaru forest

Feeding ,Yanbaru forest

Late in the evening the newts meet up and search for a mate.

Finding a mate

Finding a mate, Onna Village

The aquatic stage of the newt has external gills. It slowly prepares itself for the transition into the terrestrial juvenile stage. They can be found in mud puddles in the months of May and June.

Aquatic stage

Aquatic stage -external gills

Watch your speed and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Watch out for crossing newts

Watch out for crossing newts

All the roads in northern Okinawa have specialized wildlife steps for the the animals that get trapped in the drainage ditch. These steps allow the newts and other animals to crawl out safely.

Wildlife steps

Wildlife steps

Let’s protect the animals of Okinawa!

Have a great day!

 

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle, Yanbaru forest

The Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica) is an endangered species found in Northern Okinawa. This turtle is decreasing in numbers due to poaching, deforestation and road kill. The turtle is high valued in the pet trade market and needs to protected. It has been designated as a National Natural Monument of Japan and is currently on the IUCN red species list as endangered.

  • Scientific name:  Geoemyda japonica (Fan, 1931)
  • Distribution:  Okinawajima
  • Habitat:  Leaf littered wetland forests 
  • Diet:  Worms, snails, insects, crustaceans and fruit
  • Average Size:  140mm- 160mm

The Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle in its natural habitat.

Black breasted leaf turtle - up close Black breasted leaf turtle - up close

Black breasted leaf turtle – up close

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Black breasted leaf turtle - up close

Black breasted leaf turtle – up close

You can see why they named it the Black-breasted leaf turtle. We helped this turtle get off of the road and placed it safely back into the forest.

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

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

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle – MYN Project

I usually find the Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle crossing the road at night or early in the morning.

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

All the roads in northern Okinawa have specialized wildlife steps for the the animals that get trapped in the drainage ditch. These steps allow the turtles and other animals to crawl out safely using the steps.

Wildlife steps

Wildlife steps

Watch your speed and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Wildlife crossing warning signs

Wildlife crossing warning signs

watch out for crossing turtles -Kunigami village

watch out for crossing turtles -Kunigami village

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The truth is I have seen more of these turtles dead than alive. Watch your speed!

Black breasted leaf turtle - up close Black breasted leaf turtle - up close

Black breasted leaf turtle – up close

Road kill

Road kill

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

Have a great day!