Trip report: Japan (February 2012) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Charley Hesse.

Japan in winter offers some of the greatest avian displays on earth and it is high on many birder’s ‘bucket list’. Steller’s Sea Eagles visit the northern island of Hokkaido in large numbers in winter and on our boat trip we had staggering views of dozens of these enormous raptors at close range. Also on Hokkaido, the courtship displays of the beautiful Red-crowned Cranes on the snow were also absolutely breath-taking. These two spectacles rank as some of the best opportunities for bird photography in the world. On the southern Island of Kyushu, we visited the wintering grounds of thousands of cranes at Arasaki, where we managed to find four species. Japan also offers an amazing variety of ducks, and we saw more than 20 species including such beauties as Harlequin, Falcated & Mandarin Ducks. On our extension we braved the cold to see a good variety of alcids. In addition to birds, the trip participants were fascinated by Japanese cuisine and culture explained by our fluent Japanese-speaking guides.

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