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Japan in Winter - A photographic Odyssey Feb 2018

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kittykat23uk

Japan in Winter - A Photographic Odyssey 2018


 

I heard that a close friend of mine had got a group together to bird Japan independently. It was an opportunity not to be missed and so, I managed to invite myself along! Our tour would effectively cover the majority of the standard Birdquest “Japan in Winter” tour and we would use hire cars and public transport to get around the three islands.

 

I was expecting this to be a “mammal detox” compared to South Africa, but we did actually see a good range of mammals. The trip was a lot less stressful to organise, because I didn’t have to organise anything, just booked what the others had already booked and we were ready to go!

 

The trip itinerary was:

Honshu  
Karuizawa Bells Cabin 16/17/18th Feb.
B&B Neagari at Komatsu on 19th Feb

Kyushu
Hotel King in Izumi on 20 and 21st Feb
Minshuku Michiyasou (most of group)/Guesthouse Coco Garage (Jo & Willis) at Kirishima on 22 and 23rd Feb
Aoshima Guesthouse Hooju in Myazaki on 24th Feb

Hokkaido

Tsurui Dosanko Bokujyo on 25th Feb.
Yoroushi Daiichi on 26th Feb.
Ruasu-no yado Marumi on 27th Feb.
Furen Lodge Feb 28th, Mar 1st and 2nd

 

Honshu

Izu islands Ferry 3 March

Narita-U City Hotel Tokyo 4 March

Fly home 5 March.



Attached is a google doc, with pinpoints for each site: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1eGrNskb-vkQq09LTzxWLnR_2oBQ&ll=38.351645719835325%2C136.72760171875007&z=5

 

A taste of things to come:

 

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P2180006 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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 P2213381Adj copy Hooded Cranes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2251347adj Red-crowned Cranes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

41191460782_29ec7eea54_c.jpg

P2280717 adj Steller's Sea Eagles by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Edited by kittykat23uk

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kittykat23uk

16 Feb 2018

 

 

25424500127_9c38af5169_c.jpg 

20180215_132821 Tokyo here we come! by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Five of us flew out from Norwich, landing at 0930 in Tokyo. We took a bus from the airport to the train station where we picked up Willis, our sixth participant. We then managed to effectively navigate the Japanese ticketing system and got onto the correct bullet train to Kariuzawa, although initially settling into what turned out to be first class, before having to move to the less plush cattle class.

 

We arrived on time, and picked up a single hire car, which was a bit too small for all of us and our luggage, so it was a bit of a squeeze to get in.

 

This sign on the desk didn't exactly inspire confidence:

 

25424502227_e05b242a42_c.jpg

20180216_143956 Well that's reassuring! by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Thankfully the accommodation wasn’t far. Bell’s Cabin was very basic and I was in a dorm room with shared facilities.

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon birding around Takanasei Temple and Cemetery near Bells Cabin. We picked up some common birds such as, Daurian Redstart, Peregrine, Black-eared kites, Brown-eared Bulbul, Chinese Hwamei and Dusky Thrush. We also got a few goodies, like the Japanese Accentor, Meadow and Rustic Buntings.

 

For some unknown reason I seemed to accidentally lose some of my photos, although I did later manage to recover the majority.  

 

27475095298_74042a25e6_c.jpg

red hats copy by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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20180216_154211 Takanasei Temple by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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20180216_160200 Takanasei Temple by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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f3638656 adj Daurian Redstart by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

25424507687_a7efb5ab80_c.jpg

20180216_161937 view from Takanasei Temple by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk

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ld1

@kittykat23uk Oooo, been waiting for this ????

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xyz99

First teaser is wonderful, waiting for more!!!

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Kitsafari

i've been waiting for this!! and your photos of the snow monkey, cranes and eagles speak of more wonderful photos ahead. Hokkaido has long been on my list but never found the time to do it since the timing is really only in the beginning of the year. 

was it easy to navigate around the country or did someone in the group speak Japanese? 

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kittykat23uk

We found it reasonably easy to get around.  No one spoke Japanese in our group and not a lot of the Japanese spoke good English.  We had to guess sometimes about what we were eating, especially when we ended up in the odd local restaurant or "pub". 

 

We used maps.me to navigate around as it can be used without a mobile signal I think. 

 

Most, but not all, of our hosts spoke a little English,  enough for us to be understood . 

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xelas

The beauty of Safaritalk ... to travel to far away places, to get the taste and the vibe, and eventually, who knows, one day ....

 

The "teaser photos" did its job perfectly, @kittykat23uk!

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offshorebirder

Gosh it looks cold!

 

Love the shots of the dancing crane and the Sea-Eagles.

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madaboutcheetah

Wow - Looking forward to this report!  

Can you also post pictures of the food you ate in Japan (if you have any pictures) ..... I bet the food was amazing!

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kittykat23uk

Yes will do! You may have seen some already on Facebook. .

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Zim Girl

This is going to be really interesting  -  fabulous Sea Eagles.

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kittykat23uk

Thanks all, for following along!

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kittykat23uk

17 Feb 2018

 

We birded outside Bells Cabins from dawn. One of the first birds we put our bins on was one I was really looking forward to seeing, the stunning Japanese Grosbeak. We have a bird called a hawfinch in the UK. It’s one that really gets birders excited, because it’s a massive finch, with a solid beak and beautifully subtle colours. The Japanese Grosbeak is in a different league! If the Hawfinch were a hot hatchback, then the Japanese Grozzer would surely be a lairy Lamborghini sports car with his striking banana-coloured bill, surrounded by a smart black mask!   

 

39353048440_d3888e025c_c.jpg

P2171143 Japanese Grosbeak by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Then we headed by car along the Route 18 east of town scouring the wooded slopes for Copper Pheasant, spotting one striking male bird. The photo is replicated with kind permission of Will Soar, one of our group as I think I lost the only photo I took.

 

40799594065_45dfa4b05b_c.jpg

Copper Pheasant by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We sighted the first of several diminutive Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers, along with occasional White-backed Woodpecker and poor views of Japanese Green Woodpeckers, as well as a couple of young Japanese Macaques (the famous Snow Monkeys).

 

40450606444_1020f4a9cf_c.jpg

f7693120 by Jo Dale, on Flickr
 

 

We stopped off and spread out to look for birds. My friend Keith and I walked up a path next to a stream, and were treated to a low flying Northern Goshawk that flew straight over our heads as we walked up the path. We were amazed at how close it had passed us! So we then wandered up to a viewpoint, where we had good views of Mountain Hawk Eagle soaring overhead.

 

26290918257_b1bc6be86b_c.jpg

f8563520 adj Mountain Hawk Eagle by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We had arranged to take breakfast, scrambled eggs on toast, back at Bells Cabin and so headed back there for 0945. By that point it was snowing a fair bit, so we contented ourselves with watching finches and tits coming to the feeders. There was a good selection including, Oriental Greenfinch, Brambling, Willow Tit, Eastern Great Tit, Coal Tit and the stunning Japanese Varied Tit.  

 

26290903827_18d489c286_c.jpg

P217052 Oriental Greenfinch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

26290917097_520d66e0c6_c.jpg

f25052096adj copy Japanese Varied Tit by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2170707 Great Tit by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2170836 Brambling by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2170949 adj Oriental Greenfinch by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

39353053410_6b54d0b488_c.jpg

P2171036 Willow Tit by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

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kittykat23uk

Heading out after the snow eased off a little, we stopped at a river at the other end of town. This produced a flock of Azure-winged Magpies, sadly too quick for us to get a photo. We then headed into farmland NW of Karuizawa, to look for rosefinches, buntings and pheasants.

 

 

P2171220adj Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker

japanese pygmy woodpecker 

 

P2171418 Brown-eared bulbul

Brown-eared Bulbul 

 

We saw more Japanese Grosbeaks, Dusky Thrushes and a Japanese Green Woodpecker in the trees in one of the housing estates to the east.

 

 

P2171078adj Meadow Bunting

Meadow bunting 

 

We headed back to town, spotting little en route. Then we headed up to Shiotsubo Onsen where there were some more feeders, attracting similar birds to Bellscabin.  We headed on to the more extensive Hoshino Onsen where one can freely wander around the extensive grounds.  We finally found one of our target birds, Japanese Waxwing which feeds on mistletoe as well as Rustic Bunting.

 

 

P2171601 Japanese Waxwing

Japanese Waxwing 

 

P2171635 Rustic Bunting

Rustic bunting 

 

20180217_152452 Photograhing Icicles

Photographing icicles

 

P2171610 Icicles

The icicles referenced above.

 

20180217_152841 Beware of flying squirrels

Beware of Batman? 

 

We then went back to the farmland where we located 5+ Long-tailed Rosefinches. One of us flushed a Green Pheasant, which flew over,  but landed out of sight.

 

 

20180217_165651 Seed pods

Audrey?  

 

 

Keith then spotted a sought-after White's Thrush,  but that didn't show well and we spent a fair bit of time trying to relocate it. A search for solitary snipe failed to produce the bird.


We had a rather mediocre meal back at Bellscabin after it got too dark to bird and a few drinks before calling it a night.

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ld1

@kittykat23uk Beware of flying squirrels? These beasts look terrifying ?0E1CE5FF-0F36-4860-B4A5-B73FA16B41A2.jpeg.9756fa4c92bfabecc18be76e00ffd289.jpeg

Edited by ld1

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kittykat23uk

Ah but you haven't met their giant cousins yet! ;)

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kittykat23uk

 

18 Feb 2018

 

Today was one of the major highlights of the tour for me, the trip to see the snow monkeys! We drove a couple of hours in snowy conditions to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. There are two approaches to the Monkey Park: one requires a 25-40 minute walk through the forest, while the other requires a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest parking lot. The road to the closer car park is closed in winter so we had to make the longer walk, which was a pat along a ridge looking down the valley in pine forest. Quite pleasant but also quite devoid of any wildlife on this occasion, though Serow are sometimes encountered.  

 

It costs only 800 yen ( about £5) to enter the monkey park, a real bargain! From the entrance gate where one can store belongings (especially food) there was just a short walk down some steps to where the monkey pool is. We arrived quite early, but it soon began to fill up with more tourists.

 

27290768988_5eb325e0b6_c.jpg

P2180006 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

On arrival, most of the monkeys were not in the pool itself, as they were busily foraging for grain that had been spread by the staff in the surrounding snow-covered landscape. This made for some nice shots.

 

40452137704_87fba943e9_c.jpg

P2180298 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180335 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180350 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180380 Snow Monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180273 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180049 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

27290758518_37427f009a_c.jpg

P2180062 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

The man-made pool has access for photographers on effectively two sides, whilst the other sides of the pool form a cliff edge which drops off into the river valley. This means that, although getting a position amongst the photographers becomes increasingly difficult as the morning draws on, once in position, people can generally get some nice unobstructed views of the bathing monkeys, making it appear a much wilder and more intimate experience than it actually is.

 

Some monkeys seemed surprised at how hot the water was.

 

40452182854_ce60f00be0_c.jpg

P2180103 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180081 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180148 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180182 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

40452169054_dbe44d0da2_c.jpg

P2180204 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180226 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180412 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

40268923085_dc2b07b3be_c.jpg

P2180426 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

The steam coming off the hot spring was challenging to deal with, as it drifted in and out with the light breeze.

 

26292142177_3c48020468_c.jpg

P2180508 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

41120604292_cef56a100a_c.jpg

P2180524 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180533 Snow Monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180572 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180593 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180619 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180665 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180792 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

41164605331_05350d4344_c.jpg

P2180795 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

 

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kittykat23uk

Most of the group headed back after a while to bird the forest. I remained for a bit longer as more monkeys entered the pool. I particularly enjoyed photographing one particular family group.

 

26292333157_f7afa81853_c.jpg

P2180834 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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20180218_095336 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180888 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180904 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180946 Snow Monkey family by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181063 Snow Monkey family by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181076 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181093 Snow Monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181116 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181149 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181156 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

39354224690_74e240bd3f_c.jpg

P2181177 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181199 Nothing beats a hot bath on a cold day! by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2181233 Snow Monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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P2180663adj copy by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

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That moment when you realise that the jaccuzi isn't on.. by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

40660730794_498a9a93d8_c.jpg

P2181136dj copy by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

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Chakra

Wonderful. I found the foraging photos equally interesting, if not more. 

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kittykat23uk

Away from the pool, there is a rather icy walk down the river to where more monkeys can be seen feeding. Having had my fill of close ups I experimented a bit with some slow exposure the capture the movement of the rapids with the playful monkeys. Most of these experiments didn’t completely work out but I got a few shots that I was reasonably content with.

 

40268789525_7380695958_c.jpg

P2181240 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

40268781415_3439e3c0a0_c.jpg

P2181271 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

40268777965_58f1513f2b_c.jpg

P2181280 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

39354192290_9eb376b8c2_c.jpg

P2181291 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

40451926984_56ae58e1cd_c.jpg

P2181327 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

41164483161_3abb5e01dc_c.jpg

P2181364 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

41164478391_1e6c6fdffa_c.jpg

P2181367 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

39354152110_b28a095982_c.jpg

P2181419 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

41120420072_77c746b49d_c.jpg

P2181453 Snow Monkey by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

25463233537_b48eb9dc43_c.jpg

20180218_103948 View on way to snow monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

25463235967_741785ff19_c.jpg

20180218_104236 hot spring by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

26463317818_51ef1ba0c4_c.jpg

20180218_110018 view on walk to snow monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

27906377928_1556a37af7_c.jpg

me at snow monkeys by Jo Dale, on Flickr

Edited by kittykat23uk

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Botswanadreams

Beautiful pics from the Snow Monkeys. Thanks for cheering your trip experience with us Jo. 

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ld1

@kittykat23uk Beautiful photos, surelythe  B&W shot is a contender for comedy wildlife photo of the year. My favourite is P2181291, I love the water and Monkey together. 

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kittykat23uk

Thanks Both! 

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