Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Japan in November (No.8): kingfishers from the hot spring baths

crested kingfisher - large, stunning bird but quite shy
solitary snipe - a winter visitor: one of the birds of the trip and almost the only wader!  A nice find beside the river close to the hotel
Moving inland for a couple of nights, we stayed at a rather wonderful and somewhat luxurious spa hotel, close to the Akan National Park, an area famous for its volcanic landscape, lakes and forests.  Situated next to a small river, the hotel was very nature-friendly with lots of bird feeders kept well stocked during the day, attracting large numbers of jays and marsh tits, plus a good selection of other birds.   In the evening a Blakiston's fish owl also showed up to great excitement from the massed guestes. Superb cuisine too: basically a real treat.
marsh tit - very common visitor to the feeders, but there were also a few willow tits (the call just like our race)

The surrounding area offered some good birding and photo opportunities though generally the birds were quite shy.  One of the best places to birdwatch was from the hot spring baths (onsen) that overlooked the river, especially to watch the crested kingfishers, but not the place to take binoculars!
caldera lake: Lake Mashu
wren - one of my favourite photos from the trip
brown-eared bulbul - pretty common
black woodpecker (record shot!) - not easy to see in Hokkaido
mountain views - very little old growth forest in this area, mostly plantations
pine grosbeak (female) - saw these twice including a couple of males but shy and wary

Three more posts about Japan to come in the next few days - I need to get a move on as Spring is almost here......

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