Birding Hokkaido- Abashiri, Yoroushi, Cape Notsuke

Memanbetsu birding around Lake Abashiri, Cape Notoro and Saroma

A 20min bus ride from Memanbetsu airport took us to the lakeside hotel, Abashirikoso. Located just next to the frozen lake, we had our first views of Steller’s Sea Eagles, White-tailed Sea Eagles and a hungry fox! There is a trail across the hotel where we saw the Varied Tits, Marsh Tits, Black-eared Kites, Eurasian Nuthatch and the rare Mountain Hawk Eagle! The hotel is also famous for Onsen and they serve very nice dinner there! 🙂

dinner at lake abashiri hotel- yummy!

dinner at lake abashiri hotel- yummy!

Our two day stay at Memanbetsu yielded more foxes and quality birds including Smew, Grey-headed woodpecker, Goldeneye, Whooper Swans, Tundra Swans, Falcated ducks, Spot-billed ducks, Red-crowned Cranes, Long-tailed Rosefinches, Treecreeper, etc! Cape Notoro provided very good sea birding opportunities and the view was breathtaking, a place not to be missed!

white tailed sea eagle

white tailed sea eagle

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Birding at Lake Tofutsu, Lake Kusharo and Yoroushi Hotel Daiichi

We headed South towards Yoroushi Hotel Daiichi, an Onsen hotel that provides very good birding! We stopped at Lake Tofutsu and Lake Kusharo where we further saw birds including Ural Owl, Winter Wren, Eurasian Bullfinches, and Sea Eagles!

Ural owl at Lake Kusharo.

Ural owl at Lake Kusharo.

By 5pm, we were at Yoroushi hotel and immediately greeted by Japanese Sable! With a running creek outside and warm water pipes surrounding the hot-spring hotel, it provided a comfortable home for these cute mammals in winter! Looking thru the window in the lobby, we also saw lots of Eurasian Jays, Marsh tits, etc.

Hokkaido Sable at Yoroushi Hotel

Dinner starts at 6pm as we’re told the Blakiston fish owl usually appears around 6:45pm! Sure enough, the majestic owl appeared and we dropped our chopsticks and headed to the lobby where we already set up our gears! A couple currently lives along the creek and they came a few times to make sure we had great views of them! I find this style of birding very stressful- I couldn’t concentrate on my dinner and ended up having stomach cramps! :-/

According to Matsuo San, owner of Lode Furen, there are only 130 Blakiston’s fish owls in Hokkaido and their locations are being kept secret and are in the process of tagging as part of conservation strategy. Best views for this rare owl lies in Rausu and Yoroushi.

blakiston fish owl in Yoroushi hotel

lobby in Yoroushi hotel

lobby in Yoroushi hotel

Birding at Notsuke Peninsula and around Lodge Furen

At Notsuke Peninsula, we saw more Steller’s Sea Eagles waiting to head North, White-tailed sea-eagles, Black Scoters, White-winged Scoters, Harlequin duck, Pacific Cormorants, Asian Rosefinches, more foxes and also deers!

deers at Cape Notsuke

deers at Cape Notsuke

male black scoters after one female

male black scoters after one female

seller's sea eagle in flight

seller’s sea eagle in flight

harlequin duck at cape Notsuke

harlequin duck at cape Notsuke

Habomai cruise and more birding around Lodge Furen

It was a windy day and the waters was rough! While hanging on to our dear lives on the  boat, we were rewarded with good views of Spectacled Guillemots, Long-tailed Ducks, Rhinoceros Auklets, Black Scoters, Pigeon Guillemots, Greater Scaup, etc!

Some Long-tailed ducks in choppy waters

Some Long-tailed ducks in choppy waters

spectacled guillemot at Hobamai cruise

spectacled guillemot at Habomai cruise

rhino auklets are common here

rhino auklets are common here

A blurry pic of pigeon guillemot

A blurry pic of pigeon guillemot

wild and windy hobamai cruise

wild and windy habomai cruise

Back on land, we spent sometime looking at Glaucous-winged and Glaucous gulls!

Glaucous-winged gulls seen in most piers in Hokkaido

Glaucous-winged gulls seen in most piers in Hokkaido

glaucous gull in Hokkaido

glaucous gull in Hokkaido

Everyone wrote something for Matsuo san when we stayed at Lodge Furen.

Everyone wrote something for Matsuo san when we stayed at Lodge Furen.

It was a happy few days birding in Hokkaido! Our last bird of this section of the trip was Hazel Grouse. I lost count of how many times we saw foxes but its always exciting to see one and even more thrilled to see a pair!

The next day, we flew out from Kushiro to continue our journey to Miyakejima island!

Hazel grouse in Hokkaido

Hazel grouse in Hokkaido

Love is on the air!

Love is in the air!

fox4

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