Experiencing Autumn From the Notsuke Peninsula to Tokachi Plain: Seeing Flocks of Snow Geese, Brandt, and Pika (Part 1)

The Flock of Brant Goose, Notsuke Bay, Hokkaio

This is a report from Saiyu Travel’s Bird Guide, Kaito IMAHORI for a trip from October 26 to October 30, 2021.

Experiencing Autumn From the Notsuke Peninsula to Tokachi Plain: Seeing Flocks of Snow Geese, Brandt, and Pika (Part 2)

Arrived at the Notsuke Peninsula. The main purpose of this tour is to observe a particular species of goose. The Notsuke Peninsula is a famous migration stopover for the Brant Goose, which is designated as a National Natural Monument, and up to about 5,000 birds can be seen at this location. Looking out at Notsuke Bay, there are many black and slightly larger birds at the surface! Immediately, we accomplished our goal, to see the Brant. There are many spread far apart, but a quick count reveals a flock of over 1000 birds.

Whooper swans foraging with the Brant Geese nearby

After further observation, a white colored swan is mixed in with the Brandt. When I was trying to confirm the new species we were seeing, there, mixed in with the Whooper Swans, were actually two individuals of the flock that were slightly smaller and had a round yellow pattern on the beak. They are the Tundra swan. So this confirmation made it the third type of waterfowl observed.

Tundra swan

As we went up the shoreline, there were other wintering birds, the Glaucous Gulls up on the shore. Can you see a difference in the two species that are there, the more common species of Hokkaido, the Slaty-backed Gulls (with the darker wings), and their size is different as well.

Glaucous Gull

On our return trip we further enjoyed the Notsuke Penninsula, as we saw red foxes, and a male deer chasing after a female deer. We headed to Nemuro feeling fulfilled.

Hokkaido Red Fox
The male deer chasing after the female deer

On the second day of the tour, we started from Lake Sunset, our inn on the Shores of Lake Furen.

Very close by is the Shunkunitai Wild Bird Sanctuary, where we could observe from a distance a pair of Red-crowned Cranes and a flock of Northern Pintails. From here, we drove to Tsuri Village. We made a short detour along the way to observe a Ural Owl. Then, during lunch, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk showed up and gave us a nice long arcing swirl overhead.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

From the afternoon, we moved to observe the Japanese cranes in Tsurui Village. The autumn leaves were finishing their color show, but the yellow leaves of the Japanese larch still remained and were very beautiful.

Red-crowned Cranes
The cranes taking flight
The Red crowned crane’s mating dance

Towards the end, the two cranes did their mating dance, and it was the best closing act!
We watched over our shoulders as the last of the cranes flew off, and we headed to Tokachi.

Photo &Text: Kaito IMAHORI
Tour date: 26-30 Oct 2021, Notsuke Peninsula, Lake Furen, Tsurui village

*Contact  us, Saiyu Travel for more information about wildlife and bird watching in Hokkaido. We can make various arrangements for your trip. We have a guesthouse, Shiretoko Serai, in Rausu, Shiretoko Peninsula.


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