Hokkaido Trip

Several of us will be in Hokkaido from Feb 16th to Feb 26th for winter nature photography, mainly birds, but we’ll be happy to see some mammals too and some nice wintery scenary.  We’ll fly the red-eye from Singapore to Tokyo Haneda airport, and then catch a domestic flight to Nakashibetsu airport.  There we’ll pick up a couple of rental SUVs and drive on to the Northeast coastal town of Rausu.  We’ll spend three nights here focusing on several large birds of prey.  Stellar’s Sea Eagles gather in the hundreds on pack ice near the harbor, we should also see some White-tailed Eagles.  And a night we’ll be looking for the Blakiston’s Fish Owl.  The eagle and the owl are both among the largest birds of their kind, it will be impressive to see these truly large birds!

Next we’ll move to Nemuro, were we’ll explore a variety of habitats including saltwater marsh, rocky shorelines, and forest.  On our drive from Rausu to Nemuro we’ll stop for a few hours at Notsuke Hanto, a sandy spit extending into Nemuro Strait.  We should see Whooper Swan, reportedly this is the largest wintering grounds for this species in Japan.  Probably this will be a long day, and arriving late in Nemuro we’ve booked an entire small inn for ourselves for four nights.  Here we will have a Japanese speaking guide for the next two days.

One the first guided day we’ll explore Furen-ko (a big salt water lake), and On-ne-to (another lake) and Shunkunitai (a sandbank forest).  We should get ducks in the lakes, and hopefully the Black Woodpecker in the forest.  One the second guided day we’ll explore Nosappu Cape, we sould see many sea birds.   On our third day we’ll likely revisit locations we found attractive and spend sometime at the feeder at our inn which attracts a variety of tits and woodpeckers in the winter.  After lunch on the fourth day we’ll continue our journey to our final destination, Tsurui.  Enroute we hope to find the Ural Owl.

Arriving in Tsurui we’ll have the next two days to observe the famous Japanese Crane at several locations and feeding stations.  We really hope the weather is super cold so we can photograph the cranes in the morning mist on the Setsurigawa River, -20C will be nice!  But we have to get up by 4am to queue up for a spot, lots of photographers will be expected here.  Anyway, this is not a trip for sleep, by now waking up at 4am should be feeling normal :-).  Finally and reluctantly I expect, on Feb 26th late afternoon we’ll catch a flight back to Tokyo, and then catch the red-eye to Singapore arriving on the morning of Feb 27th.


3 Responses to “Hokkaido Trip”

  1. Yoshio Yamane says:

    Great! I hope you can have nice birding in Hokkaido. See you at Haneda Airport Internatonal Terminal on 17 Feb.

  2. Richard Carden says:

    Have a wonderfil trip, very envious, a beautiful part of the world

  3. Lau Jia Sheng says:

    All the best in finding those wonderful birds that you mentioned!

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Wildlife Photography is My Passion