Birding Tour Japan: Winter Birds and Monkeys 2019

Duration: 18 Days

During our wonderful winter Birding Tour Japan adventure we experience the diversity of three of the main islands: Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido.

We begin with the coasts and wetlands of the southwestern Kyushu desert in search of the endemic Japanese Murrelet and the wintering hordes of Hooded Crane and White-naped Crane, with an accompanying cast of other winter visitors, which may include Black-faced Spoonbill and Saunders’s Gull.

Then on Birding Tour Japan we travel northwards, through the forests, hills, and lakes of central Honshu to seek out endemics such as Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Japanese Green Woodpecker, Varied Tit, and perhaps, if we are very lucky, Copper Pheasant. We include visits to lakes to look for Baikal Teal and Mandarin Duck and to a valley where endemic Japanese Macaque and endemic Japanese Derow (a goat-antelope) make their winter home.

Leaving central Honshu we continue to the most scenically beautiful part of Japan – the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Here, in a landscape dominated by dramatic volcanoes, calderas, coastal plains, and rugged peninsulas, species numbers are low, but quality is high! We visit the feeding and roosting grounds of Red-crowned Crane, seeing them at close range where they are easily photographed, perhaps with a Red Fox in the background and a White-tailed Eagle overhead. We see flocks of wintering Whooper Swans and other waterfowl, look for Crested Kingfisher, seek out winter roosts of Ural Owl, and visit a feeding site of the rare and endangered Blakiston’s Fish Owl.

During Birding Tour Japan on the Shiretoko and Nemuro peninsulas we spend time watching arguably the world’s largest and most spectacular raptor – Steller’s Sea Eagle. Coastal sea-watching and boat trips offshore will allow us to search for an array of possible wintering or migrating seabirds, including: loons, grebes, auks, auklets, murrelets and murres.

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