Japanese Winter Safari: Arrival in Hokkaido where the Birds keep us Waiting

 Ben’s News:

06h30 found us travelling through the Japanese countryside on our way to Tokyo for our flight to Hokkaido. After a smooth flight we disembarked into the cold of Hokkaido and immediately were on our way to the Lake Kussharo area. 

The area is breathtaking, with large, imposing mountains, forests, lakes and everything thickly covered in snow. 

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We were excited to visit the nest of the very rare and endangered Blakiston’s Fish Owl (only about 100 to 150 remain in Hokkaido), but although we waited patiently for the largest owl species to return to its nest, it clearly had other plans for today. Meanwhile we filled our memory cards with the magnificent scenery.

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The Red-crowned Cranes follow a very specific path from their feeding grounds in the day to their roosting area at night. We thought that some lovely shots of the graceful birds against the setting sun would be just perfect, so off we went to a spot that intercepts their flight path.

Again we waited – and waited – and yes, they did fly over! Well after sunset! When all that we could see were the grey shapes against the dark sky! No photographs, but it was great just to see them!

Lake Kussharo always appears quite mystical. The lake is fed by thermal springs that prevent the edges of the lake from icing over. The warm spring water creates clouds of mist and the resident Whooper Swans appear and disappear constantly.

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Tomorrow we hope to spend most of the day on the shores of the lake …