1 June 2007
East Hokkaido Trip 2007 #1
A reflection of me in a horse's eye in Hidaka.
We drove over to East Hokkaido on Sunday May 27th. The weather was lousy most of the day unfortunately. Not much to see early on except the numerous Ospreys fishing on every river. We stopped at Mukawa near Tomakomai. This is an estuary well known for waders. Rather typically for Japan the pools that the waders and wildfowl all congregate on have been drained. There were still waders around though including about a thousand Red Necked Stint, many coming into summer plumage. Other waders included Dunlin, Whimbrel, 7 Bar Tailed Godwit (a Japanese first for me), plus the inevitable Grey Tailed Tattler and Little Ringed Plover.
A Lathams Snipe. One of the commonest roadside birds of the trip (along with Stonechat and Bullheaded Shrike) with a display flight and song that has to be witnessed to be believed.
We headed east after Mukawa, saw our first Japanese Crane of the trip and camped at Urahoro. Actually we really didn't camp as such. We rented a tiny bungalow as it was pouring down. The weather cleared and it was absolutely freezing at night (it was 1.5 degrees celsius). The campsite itself was pretty good for birds. Specied we saw here included Siberian Blue Robin, Brown Thrush, Eastern Crowned and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers, the usual common Tits and Nuthatch, Narcissus, Brown and Blue & White Flycatcher, Hawfinch and Oriental Cuckoo.
In sunny weather we headed eastwards after bagging our first White tailed Eagle of the trip to Cape Kiritappu. This is one of several well known capes in east Hokkaido. There used to be Tufted Puffins nesting just offshore but I think these are long gone. A male Siberian Rubythroat was singing just behind some unused fast food stands in the carpark. Despite there hardly being any bushes it was still amazingly difficult to get a decent shot.
A Peregine came and caught a small bird. Stonechat, Black Backed Wagtail, Japanese Skylark and Reed Bunting were all common and one of these probably perished.
The Cape was a pleasant place to visit and the scenery was dramatic.
But also a bit reminiscent of a Hitchcock movie.
Just next to the cape was a small lagoon that had several Falcated Duck. Here's a crappy pic.
We finished the day out at Furen-ko. This is a well known birding spot and we stayed at Takeyoshi Matsuo's lodge at the lakeside. Actually he wasn't present but his helpful and friendly wife was. We just had time to pop out and see the sunset after seeing some of the common local stuff.........such as Japanese Crane.