One last lot from Hokkaido, starting with a return to Notsuke, the Fish Owl and Sable at the magnificent Yoroushi Onsen, a visit to Lake Kussharo, some volcanic springs and a return to Tsurui for some more cranes.
Asian Rosy Finch
Blakiston’s Fish Owl
The fish-free option
What’s it seen?
Ubiquitous and noisy, it’s difficult to miss a Brown-eared Bulbul
All Long-tailed Tits are gorgeous, but the caudatus subspecies is a totally cute fluffy snowball.
Hawfinch is quite a common bird in Japan
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
The sulphurous emisions were quite unpleasant, but I love her anyway.
The light was worse today, but the Red-crowned Cranes were dancing.
One of the few benefits of the lockdown is that I have more time to spend on my photos. I need it: there’s not that many species on Hokkaido, but they are superb, so I shot more than half my of photos in the few days we spent there. Here’s a sample from the first few days, starting in Tsurui for the cranes, moving on to Nemuro for some seabirds and then to our night in Rausu.
We start before sunrise with the temperature at -14°C for some atmospheric shots of Red-crowned Crane
Eurasian Bullfinch – the asian subspecies have grey breasts
There are plenty of volcanoes on Hokkaido
A Steller’s Sea Eagle and Sea Otter
Another day, another banquet
Karen gets crabby
Yorkshire birders don’t let a bit of snow stop them.
Who can think of Hokkaido without thinking of an acorn riding a cow with a salmon under its arm?
Notsuke is a sand spit, a bit like Spurn Point. On the seaward side the sea ice blows in from the Sea of Okhotsk.
On the sheltered side, the sea just freezes in place.
I’ve never seen Snow Buntings perching on grass before.
Our minshuku at Rausu. There are at least 30 Steller’s Sea Eagles roosting in the valley.
By midnight on our Owl vigil, the only thing we had seen was a Sika Deer.
At 0410 in the morning the Blakiston’s Fish Owl arrived.
Foxes on Hokkaido are great. Not only do they look fantastic in their fluffy winter coats, but they’re also very friendly, actively seeking out humans in case there’s a sandwich or fish going spare. This one had gone for a more traditional route, though, having caught a shrew and taken it off to eat in peace. Things didn’t quite go to plan though…
Where’s it going?
There you are!
I’ll get you.
Pounce for the cameras.
It’s under your nose.
After much more pouncing and digging, the fox gave up and looked sad at us until it was thrown some food.
“It’s been coming between half past five and half past six the last few days.” Excellent – a great bird and an early night. By nine o’clock the advice was “probably between three and five tomorrow morning, but it could come in the next five minutes.” Time to take three-hour shifts so we got at least some sleep. Both awake for three, still nothing doing, and four went past too.
Finally after just short of eleven hours watching it came in. Blakiston’s Fish Owl: what a bird!