Japanese Winter Safari: Raptor Wars!

Wim’s News:

We bundled up really warmly this morning. It was bitterly cold again, with that bone-chilling wind. Somehow this just seemed to enhance the whole exciting and fascinating experience …

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We started at a site close to Tsurui where we captured some beautiful shots of the Red-crowned Cranes flying in, then away and back again. The cold seemed to keep many away and there were only about 20 or 30 of the birds, but their displays made up for the lack of numbers.

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We moved on to Akan again where yet again the photography was pretty amazing. Everyone was especially pleased to be back because some shots were missed yesterday – there was just too much going on and one had to choose where to point our cameras, knowing that something else just as impelling was going on elsewhere. So, all in all, being back gave us all a chance to fill in some of the drama we missed yesterday.

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When Crane – feeding time arrived we were ready … and again we were quite overwhelmed by the ongoing action.

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Today Whooper Swans flew in to join the buffet, creating beautiful images as they flew gracefully around and landed not far from our spot.

Then suddenly there seemed to be raptors everywhere! Steller’s Eagles, Black Kites, White-tailed Eagles swept in and the crazy action was on.

The incredible aerobatics while feeding were simply out of this world. Again and gain tussles broke out with fights over fish or simply objecting to another’s presence, creating dramatic images as the birds tumbled from the sky, locked together and then flew away mere inches from the ground and certain death. There were combats everywhere, and we need to return again tomorrow for those shots that we missed again while photographing something different.

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Then the feast was over, and at the same time a soft late afternoon light crept over the scene, setting our cameras in action again. It was so beautiful that in spite of the cold not one of us could tear ourselves away until there was simply no more light for photography and we reluctantly packed up our cameras.

We had another wonderful end to the freezing cold of the day … the wonderfully warm onsen back at the lodge as we soaked, laughed, spoke nonsense, planned, relived our images of the day and just generally thawed out was just perfect.

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Tomorrow is our last day with the cranes and we all want to fill in all those amazing shots that we have missed thus far ….