A Japanese green pheasant, a grey heron, a common kingfisher, a great spotted artillery shell. Wait, that last one’s not on the birder list.
A Japanese birdwatcher recently spotted an unexploded artillery shell near Mount Fuji, leading to an investigation by U.S. and Japanese authorities, Stars & Stripes reported.
The outlet said the unidentified man located the ordnance on Sept. 24, though he waited until Saturday to report it to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Kita-Fuji. It remains unclear why the individual waited an entire week to disclose his find. Although, in the mysterious underground world of competitive bird watching, motives are known to birders alone.
An explosive ordnance team from Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, removed the artillery shell Monday, Camp Fuji’s commander told Stripes.
Col. Neil J. Owens, the base commander, told the outlet it was “a U.S. tank round” manufactured during World War II and was “likely fired by U.S. Forces in training” between the 1950s and 1960s. Owens added that the shell was “subsequently disposed.”
The U.S. State Department has acknowledged that the removal and defusing of unexploded American-made WWII munitions in Japan remains a critical effort worth investment.
So far, ordnance ornithology has not been taught in explosive disposal team exercises, but given the recent incident perhaps one will cry fowl on its absence from traditional training.
A spokesperson at the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji did not immediately respond to Military Times’ request for comment.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media