A Dramatic Pack Ice Experience After a Storm …

Ben’s News from Rausu in Hokkaido on the Tusk Japan Wildlife Photo Tour:

(Photos from back of Bens Camera )

We had a brilliant day out in the pack ice with the Eagles. A storm blew up during the night with two rather dramatic effects. First, it blew the pack ice far further from the shore than it had been. It was no longer just a couple of minutes away by boat. This had a knock-on effect. When the ice was close to the shore, some of the shore birds, notably the local coastal crows flew to the ice with ease, where they interfered with the Eagles, tried to pinch their fish, and created quite a nuisance for photography as they kept swooping into scenes wherever there was action. So yesterday, with the ice far away, the crows could not easily fly the extra distance.

Secondly, the storm was still active in the early morning when it was time for us to set out, and the sea was too rough to venture out. The wind howled, and we had to wait for the wind and the sea to quieten before it was safe enough to venture onto a still rather choppy sea.

We eventually left the harbour at around 10:30 and we found the pack ice, but with far fewer eagles than before. The Eagles were very hungry, and as the setting, the ice, sky, and background were all perfectly beautiful, we had the most ideal setting possible to photograph both White-tailed and Steller’s Sea Eagles.

Not only was the action fierce as the birds fed hungrily and tried to grab fish from another another each time there was a successful catch, in addition the wind was still very strong and it buffeted the birds from all angles. There was plenty of banking, and abrupt turnabouts as the Eagles struggled to balance and combat the force of the wind. It looked spectacular.

We returned to the shore in the afternoon tired and exhilarated after such an exciting day at sea, and with plenty of outstanding photographs again in our growing collections.

We rested for a few hours in preparation for a very special nocturnal photographic experience – an attempt to spot the rare Blakiston’s Fish Owl.

We set up our cameras at a known feeding spot that one of the owls visits – and we were in luck again. The owl swooped down silently four times while we were there between 03:00 and 05:00.

Our wonderful experiences at Rausu have come to an end and after a short rest and breakfast we move to our next destination to see the elegant Cranes …