Varied Tit

In the spring of 1985, I started to live alone at Osaka to study in university. Just six-mat@(Japanese Tatami mat) one-room wooden apartment, I had stayed in till my graduation, was so old and shabby that the floor squeaks when someone walks on the darkened passage. The washroom was shared and, of course, it did not have bath. In a fearful town where all passersby speak powerful Kansai regional dialect, can I from the country of Hiroshima get along? I started my university life with bearing an anxious feeling.

Briefly after entering a school, an orientation to welcome fresh persons was held by various circles. They were doing recruiting activities at many lecture rooms. Among them, I found a circle "Biological Society." Photographs of piping here at Mt. Taisetsu, Hokkaido and alpine plants at Shinsyu mountains were displayed in the lecture room, where I first realized that nature world is within even students' reach, which I had never been in. I had already photographed of insects and flowers in my high school days, so I did not hesitate to join the Biological Society.

It was end April I first took part in an outdoor activity of the Society. That was a joint bird-watching party at Mino, Osaka, sponsored by an inter-collage association for birding in Kansai area.

Hanging a borrowed binocular around the neck, I was nonchalantly following senior members. Some seniors carried a tripod attached with field scope on the shoulder. Total participants, I remember, would be more than twenty.

To walk though valley path in flocks under the spring sunshine was a somewhat fresh scene for me. It was trouble that, however, I did not know how to use binocular well. Even though a senior said with pointing a finger, "Hey! That's it!" I could not find the bird being directed. "Um, it is not so fun." When I was thinking that, an orange bird settled on a tree just in front of me. It was so close that distinctly visible to naked eyes. "It's redstart!" I shouted unconsciously. I knew no orange birds other than Daurian redstart. "Is there Daurian redstart in this season?" A senior suspiciously looked back to me. "This is varied tit, a kind of titmouse." "Varied tit?" He took a field guide and taught me the difference. My first varied tit flitted from branch to branch and then went away deep into the forest.

On the field note that day, I put down for the first time in my life, twenty five birds' name were listed; gray-faced buzzard-eagle, Japanese green woodpecker, brown dipper, brown flycatcher, blue-and-white flycatcher and others. They are not in my recollection at all. Probably, I did not see them for myself with my eyes. Among the birds coming across me that day, what I remember is varied tit only.

What is important for bird watching beginners is not how rare bird they watch, but how much good they watch a bird. I would like seniors in birding circles not to walk with quick steps to compete how many birds they watch with fresh persons, but to make a good stop for them when a bird comes out, or to be afford to allow them watching birds slowly and carefully. That promises you more fresh-students will take a liking for birds, I believe.
(March 26, 2000)