Wim and Ben in Japan:
A big storm hit us last night and we awoke to a world covered in inches of deep snow, including most of the roads being snowed over. We decided to start our day at the Red-crowned Crane feeding grounds in Tsurui, located closer to our hotel. We arrived before the Cranes, so we positioned ourselves to capture lovely flight images of them as they flew in for their early feed, beautifully back lit by the soft morning sunrise, as they landed on silky smooth, freshly deposited snow.
Photo: Frits Hoogendijk
As predicted enjoyed capturing fairly lengthy courtship displays for most of the morning. So enchanting!
We decided around midday to relocate to Akan, the same feeding centre we were at yesterday afternoon and this is where we spent the remainder of our day. Each feeding ground offers very different landscapes and moods for our images. In Akan we are able to get much closer to the birds, the background is dark from the surround forest trees and there is a lot more action going on here.
The weather and conditions changed many times during the day; we had heavy snowfall, bursts of bright sunshine, cloudy and moody skies – all this with the non-stop coming and going of the Cranes. Once again, the White-tailed Eagles must have had their internal clocks set for 2 p.m. because, sure enough, they made an appearance when the fish was put out for the Cranes. We photographed aerial shots of the Eagles before they dived in amongst the Cranes, this non-stop action and fighting over fish lasts for approximately half an hour. Needless to say, we were all going a little crazy filling up our memory cards.
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schools, without a doubt, start with the study of written and unwritten rules. font-size: 13.3333px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; background-color: transparent; font-style: normal;”>At one point, a strong wind picked up, lifting the snow from the ground, creating spin drift to float all around us, often so heavy that we experience a few white outs – where the swirling snow completely whites out the background and horizon. A herd of Sika deer took advantage of this cover and ran out into the open area, bringing with them a few magnificent bulls with very impressive sets of horns.
Photo: Frits Hoogendijk
They came out of the forest to feed on the grain, affording us some superb portrait images as the spin drift churned around them.
The Cranes also enjoyed the swirling snow, it seemed to prompt them into some magical dance displays, with much prancing up into the air, red feathered heads bowing to one another, black-tipped wings magnificently spread out. We stayed until the centre closed and returned to our hotel for another lovely hot onsen and another incredible 12-course meal, washed down with some Sapporo, Japanese beer. We are truly going to miss this as we approach the final leg of our tour. Everyone seems to be struggling to put into words how much they”ve enjoyed themselves and how much Japan and everything they have experience has exceeded their expectations by far.