Courtship Displays of Red-crowned Cranes …

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

We were up way before sunrise to visit the Red-crowned Cranes at a famous viewing site. It is a crane roosting site that is overlooked by a road bridge that crosses a river. The bridge is quite high, and the water in the river reflects the beautiful colours in the sky to create rather breathtaking scenes. The river twists and turns, forming a number of s-bends and the banks are covered with snow and ice. It is well worth including the spot on any itinerary not only for the birds but also for the magnificent views.

Several cranes flew along the river from their roosting sites and passed very close to where we stood waiting, cameras ready.

We returned to our hotel for breakfast and then went to the crane site we visited previously. Being a very sunny day, the light was bright and we photographed the cranes as they fed and out on their dignified balletic displays. It really is special to watch the birds as they perform their elegant dances.

When the light became too glaring and bright we returned to the hotel for lunch. During the middle of the day clouds rolled in and covered the sky, obliterating the harsh light and with perfect results for photography.

Once again the cranes were very active and we used different techniques to capture their beauty. The High-key shots turned out particularly well with the stark white background and the black and red colouring of the birds.

The courtship displays continued until late afternoon when the cranes left the area to fly to their roosting sites. As they flew we captured the moments with panning shots. Slow panning with fill in flash worked well.

We are delighted to have more time with the cranes again tomorrow …