Monday, March 27, 2023

Birding in Hokkaido

Before my trip to Hokkaido, I have no idea what to expect or how different are there in terms of birding in the totally different environment that I so used to in the hot & humid tropical. Beside the warm clothing which is most important one. My personal opinion, a good pair of gloves is equally important. Our fingers have a higher surface to volume ratio, as such they lose heat much faster than other part of our body. I brought 2 pairs of gloves with me for my last Hokkaido winter trip. One is the usual well insulated gloves similar to ski gloves and another just a fleece gloves that give good insulation yet retain flexibility to click on the shutter. I basically change my right hand gloves between shooting and when looking for birds.

As with birding at any part of the world, joy of birding is to be able to spot them in their natural habitat. The easiest part is to spot the clue they left behind such as their dropping or to know where they will look for food. A fruiting tree is always a good place to start or wait.

I am so happy to see a fruiting tree and true enough, I don't have to wait for long. The first bird that appear is this Brown-eared Bulbul. They come in waves.
Japanese waxwing come in the next wave.
Dusky thrush made the appearance too.
The next clue is to follow their calls. Just follow where the noise came from.
I also pay attention to movement. This is particular useful for this Red squirrel.
Knowing your target bird feeding behavior helps you to spot them easier at the usual feeding spot.
All the photos above have one thing in common, they are all feeding. I find their food source and wait for them to appear.
Alternatively, there are feeding station during winter where food source are scarce. You may visit these sanctuary.
Tsurui-Ito Sanctuary is one such place that you might not want to miss.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Birding In The Snow

For a person from tropical, I always wonder what it is like to watch wildlife in the snow? I am so use to watching and take photo of wildlife in the rain but never during snowing.

For Hokkaido during winter, there is no guarantee that it will snow everyday or most importantly during the day. It is common to snow in the night but it will be too dark to take any photo without using of lighting equipment which may interrupt the usual behavior's of the wildlife.
It must be my lucky day when I visit Notsuke Peninsula and it started snowing.
The snow add some magical feel for the photo of these Sika deer.
Slaty-backed gull fly pass during this heavy snow.

The Hokkaido Red Fox running in the snow covered field.
My luck continue into the night and I took this photo out of my hostel window at night at Rausu.
I even get to shoot this Hokkaido Red Fox out scavenging for food at night and is snowing!

The big difference between shooting in the rain and shooting during snow is the risk of camera getting water damage. Shooting in the snow pose lower risk of water damage as the snow did not melt easily under sub-zero temperature and I just simply wipe them off my camera/lens. Something new for me😊.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Red Crowned Crane Watching in Hokkaido

Those who wants to watch and take photo of Red Crowned Crane, Hokkaido is the place to visit especially during winter. Most people will visit Otowa Bridge in the pre-dawn hour as this is the known roosting place for Red crowned cranes. 

The next best place to visit is Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary where food source are secured and supplied by the sanctuary. Here, you may watch them up close and can be less than a meter or two at times. The photo above are taken at the sanctuary.
Since this is my 2nd trip there, I go other options. Trying to watch them out of these 2 popular spot.
I estimate the flight path of the cranes from Otowa bridge and just wait for them at the road side. True enough, I get what I wish for. A crane with the mountain as background. I purposely choose this photo with the cable line to show that this photo is indeed taken at the roadside.

You can also choose to include some tree instead of just plain blue sky.
I also spotted one and use the tree as the window for framing.
If you are lucky enough, you can even have a shot of the cranes having some intimate time of their own. So, just don't stick to those 2 popular spot, move around and you may find something different that may interest you.