Grey Herons in Japan

I stretched my photographic wings while I was in Kochi prefecture recently and spent some time taking pictures of birds.

Grey herons (Ardea cinerea), for instance, are common in the area, so much so that they are considered a nuisance by the farmers, who don't take kindly to the big birds traipsing through rice paddies, flattening plants.

Herons are opportunistic though. I saw them among rice paddies, at the seaside, along rivers and streams, and even in the mountains.

grey heron, Ardea cinerea, Japan
Grey heron flying over ocean, wings fully extended (License image)

I spent a few days looking for a place to take photos of the birds in flight, failing miserably until I stumbled across the perfect perch by sheer chance. I was trying to photograph black-eared kites, when a trio of herons swooped past several times.

I think I shrieked with joy, because nearby fishermen glanced over with "What the heck is your problem?" expressions. No biggie. I'm used to that.

Ardea cinerea, grey heron in Japan
I love the way herons trail their legs behind them while in flight (License image)

In case you're ever in Japan and have an urgent need to say "grey heron", these birds are known locally as aosagi (アオサギ).

Ardea cinerea, grey heron, Japan
Grey heron gliding low to the ocean (License image)