3 June 2008

North Hokkaido Trip 2008 #2

.........and so we were camping at Kucharo-ko in the municipal campsite next to the lake. The lake and lakeside was pretty good for birds actually. Siberian Rubythroat, Grays Grasshopper Warbler, various common small birds such as Marsh Tit and Asian Brown Flycatcher, Osprey, Grey Heron, Wigeon and Pintail. There were also some waders present. Red Necked Stint were the most numerous. It was difficult to get good shots, it was either too dark or the sun was behind the birds.......

There were also Terek Sandpiper and Grey Tailed Tattler.

The campsite was amazingly cheap (about $4 a night). One thing a bit offputting was that the toilet played music when people enter to use it. One urgent dash to the bog in the morning (courtesy of too much fried meat and wine the night before) was reduced to comedy when the opening of my bowels was greeted with a loud recording of honking swans and classical music.

On the Friday we drove westwards to the Sarobetsu plain.

The mountain in the distance is on an offshore island called Rishiri. I actually climbed that mountain (all 1700 or so metres of it) in 2001. It was a pretty tough hike.

The Plain is well known as the main area in Japan for this species, the Hokkaido race of the Yellow Wagtail.

There were lots of them, some of them just running around on the road or even flying alongside the car.

The coastal road had a very remote and eerie feeling, the main feature being this line of huge windmills.

We finished the day at Kabutonuma, a small lake which is well known for birding. We were too early for the Grasshopper Warblers and I couldn't find several of the other local specialties (Eastern Marsh Harrier for example).......we were only there for a short time though. There were more Rubythroats here though as well as Whooper Swan, Hawfinch and lots and lots of Sand Martin. This female Long Tailed Rosefinch was the best photo from this location and the local foxes are much much shyer than down in south Hokkaido........

......whilst passing several deer......in the fading light on the shady side of the road.

On Saturday we headed back south and stayed the night near Furano again. Not much birding wise here, the biggest surprise was this animal. Again, not a great shot as it was just before dusk.

I think it's a Japanese Hare. Odd looking creature, shortish ears and very very long legs.

We spent Sunday night in a hotel on the banks of Lake Toya. This is the hot spring resort that will host the G8 Summit next month. The whole area was crawling with cops from all over Japan (judging by the registration pates on the police buses parked everywhere). They were unpacking riot control gear. I can't imagine lots of scruffy dreadlocked protesters descending on Toya but the local feds are apparently well prepared for any invasion of foreign barbarians. The local council is also cleaning up the streets and buildings meaning an absolute field day for the red stick waving clowns that seem to connstitute 50% of the Japanese workforce..........I digress.

We drove back home in pouring rain. The rain relented near Yakumo allowing me to check the rivermouth for a few minutes. Lots of Black Browed Reed Warblers here too and also 3 Falcated Duck (a bit scarce down here).

Thanks to my wife for all the driving. I don't know how she puts up with me.

Thanks too to Mo-san for the bottle of 21 year old whisky that appeared in my letter box this afternoon..........


  1. Thanks for the interesting and amusing blog. So far I have been a silent viewer, but I wanted to extend an invitation to check out my blog if interested. It is a recent and relatively lame attempt as I don't have much of any photography equipment or commitment to the blog, but if you are interested in what birds I am seeing and where, mostly in the Sapporo area, dozo.
    Also, if you happen into the Sapporo area and are looking for someone to do some birding with let me know.



  2. Stunning inflight capture of the Wagtail. Keep it up.




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