Go Wild in Japan

The islands of Japan represent one of the finest destinations in the world for winter wildlife photography.  It was such a privilege to be so close to some of the most charismatic and photogenic wildlife in the snow covered landscapes and on the floating sea ice.   

Two thirds of Japan is comprised of mountains and hills clothed in dense forests along with beautiful coastal and wetland scenery, a backdrop to a wealth of wildlife.  My journey began at the Joshinetsu Plateau National Park, three hours by train from Tokyo into the Japanese Alps.  The “monkey park” at Jigokudani, which opened in 1964, is the only place in the world where it is possible to photograph the monkeys bathing in their own natural hot spring.  Jigokudani literally means “Hell’s Valley”, although for the group of Japanese Macaque Monkeys (Macaca Fuscata) who live there, it is more akin to heaven on earth!6080 snow monkey portrait ENL.jpg5795 sm babe standing beside mum.jpg5683 sm shall I get out now.jpg5651 three monkeys on the pipe.jpg6027 grooming.jpg6228-snow-monkey-macaca-fuscata6248 sm face.jpg6222baby sm on pipe ENL.jpg5950-two-young-smMy journey continued northwards to the island of Hokkaido, the second largest island in Japan’s extensive archipelago in the north western Pacific Ocean.  The Kushiro Marsh is a vast wetland that sprawls around the meandering Kushiro River, attracting thousands of Japanese Cranes (Grus Japonensis)  each winter.  This marsh was designated a National Park in 1987 to help conserve the wildlife there.The site of these elegant birds dancing on the boundless snow-covered land is breathtaking! 

7877 cranes display.jpg7872 cranes back to back.jpg7874 cranes back to back.jpg6924 crane calling.jpg6950 two cranes.jpg6971-back-to-back-calling6921 display of back feathers.jpgAt the Akan Crane Centre, the Cranes are fed regularly and the Black Kites and White-tailed Eagles take full advantage too along with the Whooper Swans!7490-two-cranes-one-whooper7479-three-whooper-swans-in-the-snow7483 neck pattens.jpg6981-flight-of-the-black-kite6784 white tailed eagleHALIAEETUS ALBICILLA.jpg7835 four cranes in flight by beech tree.jpgAt Lake Kussharoka, the elegant Whooper Swans  (Cygnus Cygnus) gather for winter.8205 whoopers on the lake.jpg8088 feeding the swans.jpg8385 swans rippled reflection.jpg8199 close up swan water on breast.jpg8439 whooper swan droplets.jpg8426-swan-necksTravelling north to the Shiretoka Peninsula, and taking a boat along the coast in the Sea of Okhatsti  to the far north to reach the pack ice, we are rewarded with at least 80 Stellars Sea Eagles!8996 two stellars on ice 13.jpg8990 stellars in flight.jpg

9094 white tailed eagle.jpg

White Tailed Eagle

8865 slaty back gul.jpg

Slaty Backed Gull (Larus Schistisagus)

8923 take off.jpg8954 boat in the ice.jpg9063-just-after-take-off8985-about-to-take-offA cold morning was spent in a forest to photograph a Ural Owl (Strix Uralensis) just nestled in a tree, oblivious to strange creatures climbing down banks with tripods and cameras to take his picture!   He just spent several hours asleep!7174 ural owl 13 x 91000  for exhibition.jpg

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