Cranes Galore In Southern Japan And Oh So Much More February 2020




One of the last species we enjoyed on the island of Hokkaido was the Red-crowned Crane.



The 4th of February was a travel day as we flew south from Hokkaido via Tokyo down to Kagoshima on the southern island and then drove to our hotel in Satsuma. Not an orange in sight but the name is the same place. No time for any birding but we did hear rumours of a flu starting to effect people in Japan and elsewhere in the world, little did we know then.


Up before dawn and out to the fields behind the sea-wall to witness an amazing spectacle.




Some preparations were required before the bird spectacle could begin.



We were up early on the 5th of February and after a basic breakfast at the hotel headed for the nearby rice fields behind a huge seawall just as the light was coming up. What a spectacle awaited us – thousands of cranes were on the fields between us and the seawall totally mind-blowing! I love cranes at the best of times but cranes on mass was just a wonderful sight and sound. The majority of the mass were Hooded Cranes and amongst them much larger and beautiful White-naped Cranes. We knew that somewhere in this mass of feathers, long necks and long legs were three more species of crane, all rarities here in southern Japan but how would we spot them with so many individual birds to check through! Tyler knew “Sandhill Crane!” he shouted and he was right a family party of these North American vagrants were fairly close to where we were watching the birds from, a pull-in by a minor road. Tyler was shouting again “Common Crane!” amazingly he had picked out the only Common Crane here amongst the thousands of regular two species. Seconds later Tyler was at it again shouting “Demoiselle Crane!” the man was on fire three rare species of crane picked out in a few minutes where we had thought our chances were slim to say the least especially of a clean sweep of all five possible crane species! Huge thanks to Tyler and his amazing crane spotting, we all enjoyed this amazing spectacle of birds on mass and what a sound scape too!


No sooner had the food been spread on the track the mass of Hooded Cranes came to feed.




Hooded Crane, one of five species of crane we enjoyed at this one site, fantastic!




Smaller numbers of these huge White-naped Cranes were amongst the vast numbers of Hooded Cranes.




A single Common Crane with Hooded Cranes, common is rare here in Japan!




Amazing to see North American Sandhill Cranes here in Southern Japan what a wonderful place.



We drove around the minor roads enjoying flocks of cranes all over the place, feeding, resting, dancing, flying-over; if a crane did it we saw it! At the very plush visitor centre we admired the artwork and yes watched more cranes in the damp fields. In the reed filled ditches nearby we heard two good birds but frustratingly neither the Eastern Water Rail nor Ruddy-breasted Crake would allow us a view. These ditches also held Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Masked Buntings, Common Reed Bunting, Meadow Bunting and Chestnut-eared Bunting along with many others.


This stunning male Meadow Bunting was in full song in the nearby fields.



Nearby wetlands gave us our first Black-faced Spoonbills a lifer for me and a much wanted one having missed them in Thailand on several occasions, a flock of 22 of these globally threated birds were enjoyed. Along with Eurasian Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Little Egrets and Grey Herons at the same wetlands.


The Saunder's Gulls were always distant over the hazy mudflats but great to see.



An area of mudflats was quite a long drive to reach but we did pick up some quality birds and the stars here were the Saunder’s Gulls another globally threaten species. Here the gulls were feeding over the exposed mud flying down and snatching food from the surface always quite distant but great telescope views. Reminiscent of large Little Gulls very exciting to see another so rare species, I had only seen them once before a long time ago in China.

We then headed back to our hotel after a superb days birding with some very special birds enjoyed and all in sunshine and warm temperatures such a contrast to the birding on Hokkaido only two days ago!



Contact us


* * *

*


Submit

Our Tweets


This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. See our Cookie Policy for further details on how to block cookies.
I am happy with this
 

Cookies

What is a Cookie

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a piece of data stored by a website within a browser, and then subsequently sent back to the same website by the browser. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember things that a browser had done there in the past, which can include having clicked particular buttons, logging in, or having read pages on that site months or years ago.

NOTE : It does not know who you are or look at any of your personal files on your computer.

Why we use them

When we provide services, we want to make them easy, useful and reliable. Where services are delivered on the internet, this sometimes involves placing small amounts of information on your device, for example, your computer or mobile phone. These include small files known as cookies. They cannot be used to identify you personally.

These pieces of information are used to improve services for you through, for example:

  • recognising that you may already have given a username and password so you don’t need to do it for every web page requested
  • measuring how many people are using services, so they can be made easier to use and there’s enough capacity to ensure they are fast
  • analysing anonymised data to help us understand how people interact with our website so we can make them better

You can manage these small files and learn more about them from the article, Internet Browser cookies- what they are and how to manage them

Learn how to remove cookies set on your device

There are two types of cookie you may encounter when using our site :

First party cookies

These are our own cookies, controlled by us and used to provide information about usage of our site.

We use cookies in several places – we’ve listed each of them below with more details about why we use them and how long they will last.

Third party cookies

These are cookies found in other companies’ internet tools which we are using to enhance our site, for example Facebook or Twitter have their own cookies, which are controlled by them.

We do not control the dissemination of these cookies. You should check the third party websites for more information about these.

Log files

Log files allow us to record visitors’ use of the site. The CMS puts together log file information from all our visitors, which we use to make improvements to the layout of the site and to the information in it, based on the way that visitors move around it. Log files do not contain any personal information about you. If you receive the HTML-formatted version of a newsletter, your opening of the newsletter email is notified to us and saved. Your clicks on links in the newsletter are also saved. These and the open statistics are used in aggregate form to give us an indication of the popularity of the content and to help us make decisions about future content and formatting.


<