Sunday, 27 December 2015

Japan in November (No.1): at sea with albatrosses

The first leg of our Japanese adventure involved catching one of the brilliant high speed trains and travelling north from Tokyo to the port of Sendai.  Here we boarded an overnight ferry to Tomakomai in Hokkaido.  The idea was partly to catch up with some seabirds unlikely to be seen close to shore.
I have to say the ferry was extremely comfortable and well organised and it was an enjoyable journey.
Frustratingly it rained continually all night and all morning, which made seawatching more challenging, but none the less rewarding.
I was on deck from 6.30am to about 10.30am with a short break for breakfast.  Most common were dark-morph northern fulmars (hundreds) and also quite a few black-legged kittiwakes (100).
black-legged kittiwake

northern fulmar
northern fulmars
northern fulmar
After about half an hour I spotted the first of about fifty Laysan albatrosses, dwarfing the other birds, flying effortlessly ahead of the ferry.

Laysan albatross and northern fulmar
Laysan albatross
Other birds seen: black-footed albatross (1), black-tailed gull (5), pomerine skua (6), fork-tailed storm petrel (2), sooty shearwater (2), streaked shearwater (15).
Arriving in Tomakomai about 11am, we were met by a taxi that whisked us off to the railway station at Chitose, where we caught the train to Kushiro in eastern Hokkiado.

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