April 6, 2020 update:
GREAT NEWS! All our efforts
were not in vain. Due to the many friends of the Gyotoku Bird
Observatory, together with the support of Ichikawa City Mayor Hirotami
Murakoshi, the newly-designed Gyotoku Bird
Observatory building is now under construction,
scheduled to open around the beginning of July 2020! More details (in
New Gyotoku Bird Observatory Building (photo
credit: Ichikawa City)
14, 2016 update:
Just last month, the Chiba prefectural assembly decided to close the
Gyotoku Bird Observatory indefinitely, due to severe damage to the
building caused by the disastrous earthquake that occurred in Japan in
March 2011. The prefectural assembly is not planning to either resume
operations or reconstruct the observatory, but rather to reclaim the
bird sanctuary wetland.
If this decision stands, Japan will lose a national treasure and
great place to observe aquatic birds in their natural waterfront
habitat. In order to save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory, an online
petition has been started and is directed to Chiba governor Kensaku
Morita to encourage his government to reconsider their decision. If
you'd like to learn more or would care to sign the petition, please
visit Change.org. Thanks for your support!
The Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a 56-hectare natural habitat for
aquatic birds located in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan. This area was once
known internationally as a natural habitat where
large numbers of waterbirds gathered.
In those days, more than 260
species of birds could be seen here. But through the years with
increased development, the tidal flats and marshes that were home to
these many birds began to disappear.
Observatory tidal flats
To help reverse this situation, in November 1979 Chiba Prefecture
established this wildlife protection area to serve as a wild
If you're a bird lover and ready to escape Tokyo's concrete jungle, the
Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a great place to observe aquatic birds in
their natural waterfront habitat.
the old Gyotoku Bird
Observatory Visitor Center
The old facility included a three-story visitor center and educational
facility, as well as a small adjoining bird hospital to care for
injured and sick wild birds. The 2nd floor had 44 telescopes and a
picture window for viewing the expansive wildlife protection area.
2nd floor telescopes in the old observatory building
On Sunday afternoons and national holidays at 1:30, there was a group
bird watching tour of the normally
restricted special bird sanctuary zone, which you could sign up for in
advance on the 2nd floor of the observatory building (please see my
video below of a tour I took Feb. 27, 2011).
There was also a tour on the 4th Saturday of every month at
16:30 (16:00 from Oct. thru Jan.).
Birds one can expect to see here include:
Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron,
Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Spot-billed
Duck, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup,
Common Buzzard, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Snipe, Common
Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Oriental Turtle
Dove, Common Kingfisher, Buff-bellied Pipit, White Wagtail, Brown-eared
Redstart, Dusky Thrush, Bull-headed Shrike, Carrion Crow, Grey
Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, and Common Reed Bunting.
My Gyotoku Bird Observatory
The thumbnails below are a sampling of my 86 photos hosted at
Clicking on the collage will
open up my Flickr photo page. I hope you
Click here to view all of my Gyotoku Bird Observatory
Feb. 13, 2011.
On Sun. afternoon Feb. 27, 2011, I joined their bird watching
tour from 13:30-15:30. There weren't a lot of birds that day
because of the strong winds, but it was a sunny day and we got a lot of
exercise walking around this HUGE bird sanctuary.
I hope you enjoy my video below:
Feeding time at the Gyotoku Bird Observatory
Wed. Feb. 8, 2017, 3:45 pm
View video in separate window here.
Hours of operation:
Open 9 AM – 4:30 PM everyday, except closed Mondays (or Tuesdays
following a Monday holiday), the last Friday of every month (for
cleaning), and the New Year holidays (December 28 – January 3). (new building presently
Admission to the Gyotoku Bird Observatory and use of the library,
audio-visual room, and exhibition
rooms are free.
Access: The nearest station is Minami-Gyotoku on
Tokyo Metro's Tozai subway line. If you have
like me, the 2-km trek should only take 20 min. or so. You can
also take the Keisei Transit Bus from Gyotoku Station bound for
Shin-Urayasu Station and get
off at the Fukuei 2-chome stop. From there, it's 700 meters on foot.
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