This 15 day tour takes you from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo to the snowy wastes of Hokkaido taking in the best of Japanese winter birding. We visit the crane centres at Arasaki and Akan, the forested hillsides of the Japanese Alps, the wetlands around Kaga and the pack ice off the Shiretoko peninsula.
We hope to see monkeys bathing in hot springs surrounded by snow, sea eagles sat upon the pack ice or harbour walls and the magnificent Blakiston’s Fish Owl coming in to feed outside our bedroom windows. This is a great opportunity to visit a fascinating and beautiful country with expert and experienced guides.
This tour has many great photographic opportunities for those with a passion for photography with Japans winter background providing great atmospheric shots.
This is not a difficult tour and is suitable for anyone with moderate standard of fitness.
It will be extremely cold in Hokkaido where temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius are not unusual and some walking through ankle high snow can be expected.
Featured Tour Video – Dancing Red-crowned Crane
Day 1: Arrive in Japan. Meet with guides for dinner at hotel.
Day 2: Japanese Alps where the hotel feeders are a big attraction. Japanese and Pygmy Woodpeckers, Japanese Grosbeak, Japanese Waxwing, Japanese Accentor, Crested Kingfisher and Copper Pheasant are amongst possible birds.
Day 3: Full day birding the Japanese Alps.
Days 4: Snow Monkeys and hot springs and onto the wetlands of Lake Kahokugata.
Days 5: Katano-Kamo Wetlands with hundreds of wintering ducks and geese including Baikal Teal and Falcated Teal and Smew Duck.
Days 6: After early birding around Kaga we fly to Izumi.
Day 7: A visit to the Arasaki crane centre where thousands of Hooded and White-naped Crane winter and are sometimes joined by Common, Sandhill, Demoiselle and Siberian White.
Day 8: Full day birding the Arasaki area. A great area for pipits, buntings etc. we will also visit sites for wintering gulls including Saunder’s Gull and perhaps Great Black-headed Gull.
Day 9: Lake Mi-ike a good site for Mandarin Duck, Ryukyu Minivet and Scaly Thrush.
Day 10: Travel to Hokkaido and overnight Kushiro.
Day 11: Early morning at Crane centre for Red-crowned Cranes before traveling to Rausu on the Shiretoko peninsula for Blakiston’s Fish Owl and Steller’s Sea-Eagle.
Day 12: Weather permitting a Rausu harbour boat trip will allow us close – ups of Sea-Eagles on the pack ice. Later we will visit the Notsuke Peninsula for sea ducks and spectacular Whooper Swans at well known feeding site nearby.
Day 13: Lake Furen. A great birding centre with excellent sea watching potential with Least and Crested Auklets, Common Murre, Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemot and a variety of gulls all possibilities. Ducks and swans are also usually good here.
Day 14: Full day birding Lake Furen area.
Day 15: Return to Narita and onward flights.