Japan Winter Safari: Iced In!

Wim’s Update from the Japan Winter Safari:

Yep … we went off last night hoping to see the Blakistons’s Fish Owl. We waited, and because we were totally exhausted after our amazing day out in the ice-floes, the wait eventually felt too long, and by 10 we started to pack up and head for our warm beds.

Just then an owl appeared out of the darkness …


(image from back of Ben Crane’s Camera)

…and perched beautifully in the snow ahead of us, next to a small pool. There, to our utter delight, it caught a fish – and then another – before it disappeared again into the darkness. Our tiredness was completely forgotten as we gloated over the fact that we have seen all the amazing birds on our wish-list!

Today was just incredible. The pack-ice was so dense that we could not venture far from the little harbour, but no problem! The Steller’s Sea Eagles were everywhere, and the action fast and furious. As an Eagle caught a fish, it was immediately set upon by one, two, or sometimes even three others, intent on grabbing the prize. Again and again the aerial combats took place right in front of us. At times we were amazed that the birds escaped death as they plummeted from the sky, talons locked, and only releasing when mere centimeters from the ice – or the ocean. Now and then one would get a bit wet, but undaunted, flew on to the next confrontation.

We spent the entire incredible day photographing the drama, only returning to shore for a very brief lunch.

Crows and various gull species milled around, hoping to snatch a dropped fish – but with the huge, powerful Eagles, they had zero chance! The Eagles carried on as if the others were not even there.

And after a fabulous, exhilarating,  tiring, satisfying day, we are all ready for our evening onsen, dinner, and bed.

Tomorrow? We will have to see what the rapidly thickening pack-ice does overnight …