The northernmost islands of Japan are on similar latitudes with Rome, Marseilles, and New Hampshire. But they are COLD and frozen! Hokkaido is Japan’s second largest but has only 4% of the population. It does have snow, forests, salmon, brown bears and other amazing wildlife. I got the chance to visit the eastern part to see the legendary Red-crowned crane (Grus japonicus) – Tancho tsuru in Japanese. In the early 20th Century they were thought to be extinct in Japan until a group of 20 individuals were discovered in a wetland in eastern Hokkaido. Now the global population is up to 2000 and have strong protection in Japan where their habitat is increasingly protected and local farmers have taken to feeding them in their snowy wintering grounds. The two day trip was short but full of birds – besides the cranes there were Stellar’s sea eagles (Haliaeetus pelagicus), White-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), Eurasian jays, Chinese nuthatches, woodpeckers, lots of tits, and a couple of Hen harriers (Circus spilonitus) – plus a fox and lots of Sika deer (Cervus nippon)! And snow and cold!
I also had a fun companion and partner on the trip – and personal chauffeur. She did a great job driving on the snowy roads!
With some short videos!
Some of the landscapes were stunning!
And my amazing chauffeur got to have some fun too. 🙂