Brown Bear

Although my recent trip to east Hokkaido was pretty quiet birdwise I did get excellent views of Brown Bear. A mother and her 2 cubs were feeding right next to the road.

These photos were taken from the car. The bears caused a small traffic jam and a couple of park officials armed with bear spray were nervously looking on and telling people to stay in their cars.

After a few minutes the bears walked down the road a bit and disappeared back into the forest.

Brown Bears also occur in the Hakodate area (I’ve seen them a couple of times and often see tracks/scat) but sadly are often shot if they come near towns or villages.

*EDITED TO ADD* Apparently this is becoming a common occurence in Shiretoko and the officials are getting a bit worried about people getting too close and the bears becoming too accustomized to people/cars which may present problems in the future. This exact same sighting (and several others) was featured on a local news program showing the potential dangers of such encounters . The broadcast went on to show subsequent incidents with even larger traffic jams and people getting out of cars very close to bears.

In hindsight maybe we should have just driven past and not joined the line of cars. I don’t really know what should be done, I mean it’s pretty exciting to see a bear so close and a massive part of the attraction of Shiretoko is the fact there are bears there. Perhaps they should enforce a strict no stopping rule on parts of the road where bears are known to feed?

A late summer trip out east

Pacific Swift

We had a quick trip to east Hokkaido. Not the best time of year for birding there it must be said but we still saw a few interesting species.

Pacific Swift were abundant everywhere, the above photo was taken at Kiritappu. At Rausu the weather was awful but we did manage White-tailed Eagle and offshore Rhinoceros Auklet and Sooty Shearwater. Across the mountains in Utoro the weather was much better and here we could see Hazel Grouse, more White-tailed Eagles, Peregrine, Goshawk and the usual common resident species of this part of the world.

Notsuke was quiet: lone Terek Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Grey-tailed Tattler and more White-tailed Eagles. The latter were also at Lake Furen as well as White-throated Needletail and Japanese Crane.

Nosappu had Rhinoceros Auklet offshore as well as Harlequin Duck, Sooty Shearwater, Black Scoter and a Great Knot heading south. Kiritappu had more of the same…………..

East Hokkaido 2019 #10

White-tailed Eagle

We headed up to Shiretoko to try for Pine Grosbeaks at the top of the pass there. The weather was pretty nasty on the way…….here are 2 oft seen roadside birds on the way up there……….

Latham’s Snipe

And on the way north we came across some White-throated Needletails………..

White-throated Needletail

East Hokkaido 2019 #5

Spectacled Guillemot

I did the boat trip from Ochisihi last week. It was a grey cold windy day: not ideal for photographs. My target species was Tufted Puffin, a would-be lifer. One adult did fly over briefly but no photo alas………….

There were plenty of Spectacled Guillemots that did pose for the camera at least.

Spectacled Guillemot
Spectacled Guillemot

Other species seen included Rhinoceros Auket and White-tailed Eagle………….

East Hokkaido 2019 #3

Common Reed Bunting

Some other commn birds from Kiritappu. Common Reed Buntings were singing all over the place and up above Pacific Swifts were hawking……….

Pacific Swift

Offshore were Specatcled Guiilemot and Rhinoceros Auklet, several White-tailed Eagles were in the area and the usual common Hokkaido summer birds like Siberian Stonechat were present.

Siberian Stonechat

Latham’s Snipe were displaying above our campsite and at night you could hear the strange calls of Laech’s Petrels coming ashore……………