Birdwatching at Kamo River in Kyoto

Spread the love

Kamo River Birding Kyoto

In April 2024, I enjoyed birdwatching at Kamo River in Kyoto, and this was my first time birding in this part of Japan. While I was in the city for some work, I took many extra days to do birding around the historic city.

After some research, I found that the Kamo River, with its serene ambience and lush surroundings, provides one of the ideal habitats for various Japanese bird species; therefore, I know this would be my favourite place.

Birdwatching at Kamo River in Kyoto

I wanted to do a birdwatching trip report for Kyoto, but I thought I would make it a simple article for everyone. Even beginners can enjoy reading this accompanied by some photos instead of making it super detailed and technical.

Every morning before I headed to work, I would head to the riverbanks, looking for common birds that frequent the area, such as the Japanese Wagtail, Grey Heron, Mandarin Duck, and the beautiful Japanese Cormorant.

I was told that if I was lucky, I could spot more elusive species like the Common Kingfisher or the Japanese Bush Warbler. Well, that section of luck was not shining during April, or maybe I didn’t go off too far up the river.

For your added information, the Kamogawa River runs for 31 kilometres long, and the part that cuts through downtown Kyoto is around two to three kilometres long. So, usually, people will walk along this part of the river.

Kamo River Birding
Walking along the Kamo River path with birds in sight.

On my morning Kamo River birding sessions, I would take a five-minute walk from my hotel in Kawaramachi. As always, early mornings or late afternoons tend to be the best time for birdwatching when bird activity is at its peak around the river.

Armed with my Canon R7 and my RF 100-500mm lens, I would spend about an hour in the morning walking an estimated one to two kilometres along the Kamo River. Ducks are probably one of the most common birds to spot, with an estimate of at least three to four species in April.

The ever-popular Black Kites are abundant as they are seen hovering over the river, sometimes up to eight or ten of them at one go. Often you will see the large-billed crows chasing the kites away.

Kamogawa River Birding
The Kamogawa River is very popular with locals and birders.
Kyoto Grey Heron
This beautiful grey heron was photographed along the Kamo River with my smartphone. 

Kamo River Bird List

Here are some of the common and notable bird species I encountered while birdwatching along the Kamo River in Kyoto:

  1. Japanese Wagtail (Motacilla grandis)
  2. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  3. Japanese Cormorant (Phalacrocorax capillatus)
  4. House Swift (Apus nipalensis)
  5. Brown-eared Bulbul (Hypsipetes amaurotis)
  6. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  7. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
  8. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
  9. Medium Egret (Ardea intermedia)
  10. Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
  11. Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
  12. Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
  13. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
  14. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
  15. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
  16. White-cheeked Starling (Spodiopsar cineraceus)
  17. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  18. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  19. Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha)
  20. Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
  21. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
  22. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  23. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

What I wanted to see but did not see;

  1. Japanese Bush Warbler (Cettia diphone)
  2. Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
  3. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Kyoto Black Kite
A Black Kite was photographed with my smartphone along the Kamo River.
Kamo River Mallard Ducks
A couple of Mallard Ducks rest by the river. (Photographed with my smartphone)
Kamo River Kyoto Birding
The Kamo River divides Kyoto.

Additional Tips and Information

Birding along the Kamo River is relatively easy, as you only need to walk up and down the river. There are proper walkways, and many people hang out at the banks of the rivers all day. In the heat of the day, people are sunbathing or lying down; at lunchtime, they eat here, and people hang out at night.

The Kamo River seems to be an essential part of Kyoto, as most locals and visitors seem to be attracted to this place. I know I was, simply because it was in the main city, and birds are easy to spot here.

When I was here for work, I stayed at the Travelodge Kawaramachi Kyoto, along the main street and a five-minute walk to the Kamo River. The convenience of staying here was incredible regarding logistics, convenience, and comfort. Everything was within arms reach.

Kamo River Birding Location Kyoto
The red line with arrows is the birding location where I usually walk up and down. Note the Travelodge Kyoto hotel location.
Ducks at Kamo River
Mallards are commonly seen walking around the banks of the Kamo River.
Bird Watching at Kamogawa River
The main part of the Kamo River runs through Kyoto downtown and is one of the best places to see birds.
Subway Train Station Kamo River
One of the many train and subway stations outside the Kamo River.

Conclusion

As this was my first time birdwatching at Kamo River in Kyoto, I must admit that it was probably some of the best I have done in Japan. It was so easy, convenient, and hassle-free. When I return to Kyoto, I will definitely come here to do more birding.

During my work here, I also did birdwatching at Kyoto Imperial Park, one of the highlights of birding if you know where to go. The park is huge, but somehow, my bird instinct took me to the right place. I will post additional photos taken with my Canon R7 camera in another article.

About Bird Watching Asia

Bird Watching Asia is a self-funded project to promote bird watching in Malaysia and around Asia.

View all posts by Bird Watching Asia →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *