Birds of Japan photographing and listing wildlife species plus other species. I update periodically when not in the field birding, so please check back now and again to find new species listed. Thank you for visiting, Namaste, Blain in Japan
The Red-Crowned Crane, Tancho as it is known in Japanese, stands at 150 to158 cm (4ft to 5 ft) tall weighing 8 to 11 kg (17 to 25) pounds with a large wingspan measuring 200 to 260 cm (6.5 ft to 8.5 ft) and live more than 60 years, wow imagine their size and watching the ballet! The population is less than 3,000 birds worldwide, but over 1/3 of the entire Red-crowned Crane population is native to Hokkaido. I photographed these Red-Crowned Cranes in 2019 while leading my annual Hokkaido photography tour. Wikipedia
The black kite is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors. The black kite is said to be the most abundant species of Accipitridae and can be easily found throughout Japan. Currently, the global population is about 6 million. Black kites are opportunist hunters and a little more like scavengers; they spend much of their time soaring and gliding in search of food. I photographed these two beautiful black kites with sticking colors and unique markings while leading my annual Hokkaido photo tour 2018.Wikipedia
The glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) is the second largest gull in the world which breeds in Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and winters South. This dominant gull is usually very pale in all plumages, and mostly with no black on either of the wings or the tail. Blain Photographed this Glaucous Gull while leading a Winter Hokkaido Photography Tour group of international birders.
Little grebes, also known as dabchicks, are quite small and rather dumpy birds with blunt rear ends. They are dark brown, with a chestnut-brown throat and face. This chestnut color becomes richer and more shiny during the breeding season. Blain photographed this pair of little grebes during his annual autumn in Japan photography tour.The Japan Times
Onaga in English Azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyana) are from the Corvid family. And they are related to crows and jackdaws, but the Azure magpies are more elegant with beautiful light blue long tails and wings, raspy back, white throats, and black caps. They average 31- 36 cm long; the Japanese name Onaga means "long tail." These birds whistle and trill when in groups fired fast with a distinctive-sounding kwink-kwink-kwink followed by a single krarrah. They occur in large numbers in Japan and eastern Asia. These two I photographed in my backyard in Niigata in winter, but I also have, photographed them while leading a Hokkaido photo tour; I have seen them in flocks of up to 30, and some of my fellow birds have seen them in flocks of up to 80 in Japan.Wikipedia
The Eurasian nuthatch or wood nuthatch is a small passerine bird found throughout temperate Asia and in Europe, where its name is the nuthatch. Blain Harasymiw photographed this nuthatch while leading a Hokkaido wildlife winter photography tour workshop in northern Japan. Wikipedia
Kingfishers or Alcedinidae are a family of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species found outside the Americas. This kingfisher Blain photographed while leading a Japan birding photography workshop tour in the Kanazawa region.Wikipedia
The Japanese macaque, also known as the snow monkey, is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. Blain in Japan photographed this Alpha male while leading his annual Hokkaido photo tour, including the snow monkeys, Mt Fuji and Matsumoto Castle.Wikipedia
TheSteller's sea eagle is a large diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It was originally described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1811. No subspecies are recognised. The Steller’ sea eagle is the champion of Raptors, glacial relics that have survived several ice ages. Somehow they seem immune to the passage of time. They are such extremely rare and formidable birds of prey that they have been around since the day of the dinosaurs, representing near evolutionary perfection, and with its deep piercing voice ra-ra-ra-raurau, those who have been in their presence “in the wild” have heard the echoes of the Steller’s dinosaur legacy. Their plumage is blackish brown-black all over except on the shoulders, rump, tail, thighs, and forehead, which are white. Their HUGE, hooked bill is yellow; when they feed, they do it with raw power. These Eagles are huge, on average, the heaviest raptor on our planet, weighing up to and over 10 kg (22 pounds). They are also tall, measuring up to 94 cm (3 ft) sometimes even taller, with a huge wingspan of up to 250 cm (8 - 9 ft). I have personally photographed a Steller’s Sea Eagle I swear had a wingspan eclipsing 10 ft that I witnessed from my chartered helicopter while I was on assignment capturing landscape shots between Hokkaido and Russia. But sorry the raptor would not stop for me to get out my measuring tape. Namaste, Blain in Japan
The Japanese tit Bird (Parus Minor) is also known as the Oriental tit and is a passerine bird of Japan and the far East of Russia. Until a few years ago, they were classified as a subspecies of the great tit (Paris Major), but studies have shown that the two species coexist in Japan and the Russian Far East without intermingling or frequent hybridization. In my twenty-plus years photographing them in Hokkaido, Japan, I still sometimes refer to them as Black-capped Chickadees as they are similar to the North American species and are difficult to tell apart for the newbie birder, and can sometimes give the veteran birding pause to identify. I photographed this Japanese tit while leading my annual Hokkaido birding photo tour.
The Mejiro or Japanese White-Eye also, known as the warbling white-eye, is a very small and super fast passerine bird. Often the specific epithet is written japonica, but this is incorrect due to their species range and being native to Japan, East Asia, Russia, Indonesia, Korea, and the Philippines. They have also been introduced International as pest control with mixed results. When I took this shot of this Mejiro sucking the sweet nectar of the Kawazu Sakura Cherry Blossom that blooms in mid to late February, I had just returned from Hokkaido via Tokyo in the morning from my annual Hokkaido photo tour, and by noon I took the shot, I brought along all my Hokkaido photo tour participants to enjoy a rare opportunity to photograph Japans earliest blooming cherry blossom and the Mejiro, they certainly are a beautiful combination. The participants were genuinely amazed; not only did they get to photograph the Steller’s sea eagle, the red-crowned cranes, and other wildlife, they met the Ainu photograph minimalist winter scenes, enjoyed hot springs and Japans wild frontier. Just a few hours south, they got to enjoy cherry blossoms that most only dream of and believe they bloom in early spring March - April. Wikipedia
The mallard is a freshwater duck which usually feeds in shallow water by dabbling and upending. They Breed throughout the temperate and subtropical Asia Pacific regions of Japan, Eurasia, Americas, and North Africa and has been introduced to various other regions. The male drake ducks have a glossy green head and grey on the wings and belly. Both sexes have white bordered black, or iridescent blue feathers called a speculum on their wings. Blain Harasymiw photographed these mallard ducks while leading a Japan Guided Tour in Tokyo, Japan.
The White-Tailed Eagle is also known as the white-tailed sea eagle, gray eagle, Eurasian sea eagle, which is one of the giant birds of prey in the family Accipitridae which includes other raptors such as hawks, kites, and harriers. The White-Tailed can be photographed all year round in Hokkaido, Japan. During harsh winters in Hokkaido, they co-exist with their bigger cousin The Steller’s Sea Eagle, and they can often be photographed in severe aerial combat or on a land fights, sometimes it's 2or 3 stellers against one white-tailed eagle, fish and food is why they fight, when there is no food shortage, they sit side by side in relative peace. These beautiful majestic raptors are known as the fourth largest eagle in the world; they are the only species known to be more massive in bulk then the Steller’s Sea Eagle, the Harpy Eagle, and the Philippine Eagle. These eagles measure from 65-95cm in length with a wingspan of 170cm to 260cm or about 5ft 5 to 8ft 5 inches. It is said this raptor has the largest wingspan of any living eagle. The male and female are similar in coloring and appearance, the accurate way to tell them apart is by tarsus width and depth and bill depth, but this is next to impossible unless they are captive or captured then released with tracking devices on their legs. I usually tell them apart by their size in which females are generally about 30% heavier and about 15% greater in linear dimensions. I photographed this White Tailed Eagle while leading my annual Hokkaido Birding TourWikipedia
The Okinawa rail (Gallirallus Okinawae) belongs to the rail family, Rallidae. It is endemic to Okinawa Japan where it is known as the Yanaru Kuina, its existence was confirmed in 1978. It is a medium sized almost flightless rail with short wings and tail, olive and brown upperparts, black underparts with white bars and a red bill and legs. Blain photographs these rails while leading birding photo tours Okinawa Japan. Wikipedia
The water rail is a bird of the rail family which breeds in well-vegetated wetlands across Asia, Europe and North Africa. This water rail was photographed by Blain while leading a birding photography tour Japan. Wikipedia
The Ezo sika deer is one of the many subspecies of the sika deer. The sika that inhabit the island of Hokkaido are indigenous, although it is not known whether they originated there or migrated from the main island of Japan. I photographed this Yezo sika deer while leading a Hokkaido Photography Tour Japan.
The Daurian Redstart is a small passerine bird from temperate Asia. In Japan, it is known as Jobitaki. Its length is 14 to 15 cm, and its weight is 11 to 20 g. Blain in Japan photographed this Durian Restart while leading a Japan private birding photo tour on Sado Island in Japan. Wikipedia
The swallows and martins, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents except Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. There are around 83 species in 19 genera, with the greatest diversity found in Africa, which is also thought to be where they evolved as hole-nesters. They also occur on a number of oceanic islands. A number of Japan's European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are non-migratory. Blain photographed these three little swallows while leading a photography tour in Mt. Fuji Yamanashi, Japan. Wikipedia
The great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) is a medium-sized woodpecker with pied black and white plumage and a red patch on the lower belly. This species is found across Eurasia and parts of North Africa. Photographed while leading a Hokkaido wildlife photo tour in northern Japan. Wikipedia
The brown-headed thrush, sometimes known as the brown thrush, is a species of bird in the family Turdidae.Image taken while I was leading a birding photo tour Kyoto Japan. Wikipedia
The Oriental stork is a large, white bird with black wing feathers in the stork family Ciconiidae. It was once thought to be extinct in Japan. Blain photographed this endangered Oriental Stork in Japan while leading a birding photo tour Niigata.Wikipedia
The grey wagtail is a member of the wagtail family, Motacillidae, measuring around 18–19 cm overall length. The species looks somewhat similar to the yellow wagtail but has the yellow on its underside restricted to the throat and vent. Breeding males have a black throat. The species is widely distributed, with several populations breeding in Europe and Asia and migrating to tropical regions in Asia and Africa. Blain Photographed this wagtail while leading another birding photo tour Tokyo Japan.Wikipedia
The Whooper Swan (Cygnus Cygnus) is a huge Northern Hemisphere Swan. These swans can be easily identified from other swans by the color of their bill, which has orangey yellow markings. Blain photographed these swans flying through a snowstorm while he was leading a birding wildlife photography workshop on Sado Island Niigata, Japan.Wikipedia
The mute swan (Cygnus olor) is a species of swan and a member of the waterfowl family Anatidae. It is native to much of North Asia, Central Asia, Eurasia, and the far north of Africa. It is an introduced species in North America, Australasia, and southern Africa. Blain Photographed this Mute Swan while leading another international birding Japan photography tour in the Mt. Fuji region. Wikipedia
The Japanese Weasel (Mustela itatsi) is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the Mustelidae family. The Mustelidae is a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora. Blain’s team filmed this Japanse Weasel while on a Wildlife Winter Hokkaido Photography Tour Japan. Wikipedia
The Japanese Serow is a Japanese Antelope-Goat. It is found in dense woodlands in Japan and is known for its agility and speed in traversing steep mountain regions. Blain Harasymiw’s team filmed this Japanese Serow while on a photography vacation workshop tour for international wildlife photographers in the snow monkey region in Nagano, Japan. Wikipedia
The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is one of two species of the old world flying squirrels. Native to Japan they inhabit forests and boreal evergreen forests on Honshu and Kyushu islands. During the day these squirrels are comfortable in their den or hole mostly in the coniferous tree, emerging at night to feed. In 2019 - 2020 Blain will be once again leading Japan photography workshop vacation tours to photograph these amazing dwarf flying squirrels in the wild forests an hours drive from the middle of Tokyo.
The green pheasant is the national bird of Japan. The Japanese green pheasant is unique, and it appears in Japanese folklore and is an indispensable part of the Japanese cultural landscape. The green pheasant is native to Japan to which it is endemic. Blain photographs the green pheasant while leading yet another Japanese exotic dreamscape birding photography tour, for international and Japanese photographers. Wikipedia
The Kai Ken is a breed of dog that hails from Japan where it is a national monument and has been bred for centuries. It is a rare dog even in its native land and is one of the six native Japanese dog breeds protected by the Nihon Ken Hozonkai. Hachi is this Kai Ken’s Name and is part of Blain’s family who often accompanies him while Blain and his Team of expert photographers and explorers explore new regions for upcoming new and exciting Japan photography vacation tours & workshops.Wikipedia
The ruddy kingfisher ranges from South Korea and Japan in the north, south through the Philippines to the Sunda Islands, and west to China and India. It is migratory, with birds in the northern part of the range migrating as far south as Borneo during winter. Locally common in southern parts of its range, the ruddy kingfisher is rare in Japan, where it is highly sought after by birders. Ruddy kingfishers inhabit forested areas from the temperate to tropical zones, often in thick jungles and rainforests. During hot years Blain leads birding Photography tours on the Southern Islands of Japan to photograph and film the Rudy Kingfisher.wikipedia
Kawazuzakura is the earliest blooming Sakura in Japan. The Kawazuzakura/Cherry Blossom tree is well known in the Izu Peninsula and blooms in February. This species of Cherry Blossoms with its beautiful vibrant pink cherry pebble flowers is a must see, "so don't forget to add it to your bucket list." Blain Harasymiw annually leads many Japan hanami photo tours to view these beautiful early bloomers. Blain also leads Japan birding photo tours to photograph the Japanese white-eye, Meijiro bird feasting on the sweet nectar of the Kawazuzakura Cheery Blossom Flower.
Hokkaido Photography Tour: The Popular is a deciduous tree that belongs to the family Salicaceae. There are over 35 species of the poplar trees, which are different in size and shape of the leaves, the color of the bark and the habitat they live. Poplar trees can be found throughout the Northern hemisphere (Asia, North Africa, North America and Europe). Blain Photographed these poplars while leading an autumn photo tour in Hokkaido Japan.
The Japanese Tree Frog (Hyla Japonica) is a species of tree frog found in Hokkaido to Yakushima Japan and Northeastern China, Korea, Mongolia and the Russian East. Tree frogs are commonly found in rice paddies, and during the day can be found on leaves and vegetation, during the evening they are most active and chase insect and are attracted to lights. Blain photographed this tree frog while leading another Hokkaido photo tour.
Cosmos flowers are also called the cherry blossoms of autumn and mainly bloom in autumn, but they have been known to bloom from mid-August. The flowers come in a variety of colors pink, white orange, purple almost every color under the sun. Blain Photographed these cosmos while leading a Hokkaido photo tour on Japans most northern Island.
The rustic bunting (Emberiza rustica) is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a species now separated mostly from the finches, (Fringillidae). The rustic buntings are a regular migrant of Japan and are a beautiful and fun bird to view and photograph, Blain loves these small passerine birds especially when they raise their hair as they perk their head and neck up. Blain photographed this rustic bunting while leading a private birding Hokkaido Photo Tour. Japan indeed is a birders paradise with over 600 species of bird to date.
The Japanese Wagtail is a species of bird in the pipit and wagtail family Motacillidae. They are small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They breed in Japan and Korea, some birds have been recorded in Taiwan, Eastern China, and eastern Russia. In Japan they common from Kyushu to Tokyo, but uncommon in Hokkaido. Blain Photographed this Japnese wagtail while leading a Japan wildlife photo tour.
The Eastern Spot-Billed Duck looks and sounds similar to it's close relative the mallard duck. You can quickly tell them apart by their bill, the mallard's bill is completely yellow while the spot-billed bill has only a spot of yellow. Aside from the bill, the Spot-billed duck can be identified by the white crescent shape of its wings, and their distinctive blue speculum. Blain photographed this spot-billed duck while he was leading a Hokkaido wildlife-birding photo tour.
Alcea is a genus of about 60 species of flowering plants, commonly known as the Hollyhocks. Hollyhocks are native throughout Japan and other parts of Asia as well as Europe. The herbage normally has beautiful star-shaped hairs, and are usually over three cm wide and come in a variety of colors, such as pink, white, purple, yellow. Blain Photographed this Alcea while leading a private Japan Photo Tour.
The Tree Sparrow is a passerine bird in the sparrow family with rich chestnut crown and nape, with a black patch on each mostly pure shite cheek. Males and females have similarly plumaged, and younger birds are a duller version of the adult. The tree sparrow is not endangered globally, but globally there has been a drastic decline in their population due to human activities, and climate change. In many parts of the world, the tree sparrow is seen as a pest, although they are often seen and depicted in the oriental arts. These sparrows feed mainly on seeds and invertebrates, interestingly they have been documented by Blain Harasymiw & other plucking Cherry Blossom flowers and drinking the sweet nectar from the stem of the flower. Blain Photographed this tree sparrow drinking cherry blossom nectar while he was leading his annual group Cherry blossom photography tour in Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Niigata and Hokkaido Japan. The tree sparrow is found throughout Japan, so participants on Blain's cherry blossom photo tour have plenty of opportunities to photograph these adorable birds collecting the sweet nectar of the cherry blossom.
The Giant Wood Spider (Nephila) is one of the biggest spiders in the world and is a genus of araneomorph spiders noted for their impressive webs. They are found in Japan, Australia and warmer regions around the world. Blain photographed this giant wood spider while leading his annual autumn in Mt. Fuji photo tour.
The Japanese Robin or Komadori is a small passerine bird in the family Muscicapidae. Participants on Blain Harasymiw's Hokkaido wildlife photography tours, and photo tours north of Tokyo, Japan often view and photograph these beautiful Japanese Robin.
The Brown-eared bulbul is Native in Japan and found in most parts of Eastern Asia. Alternate names for the brown-eared bulbul include the Asian brown-eared bulbul, Chestnut-eared bulbul, and Eurasian brown-eared bulbul. In Japan, they can be seen sipping the sweet nectar of the earliest Cherry Blossoms that bloom in Japan, the Kawazu Sakura Cherry Tree that blooms like clockwork in February just outside of Tokyo, Japan.
The Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus which diversifies in color and is a beautiful bird. They are usually medium grey comparable to Birula's gull and can be much darker in color The head of the Mongolian gull is largely white all year round with just a touch of streaking. The legs are ordinarily pink, and their eyes are usually pale with a red orbital ring. I photographed this stunning gull while leading my annual winter wonderland Hokkaido winter photography tour.
The Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana is a handsome migratory songbird, about 17cm long, it the male has a vivid electric blue cap, back wings, and tail. The breast is white, and the face eyes bill is brown-black. The blue flycatcher s one of the three songbirds that are famous in Japan for their singing; their song is complex fluid, thrilling and energetic, in the breeding season, they emit a goo-goo sound. Blain Harasymiw photographed this blue and white flycatcher while leading a private cherry blossom photo tour in Fukushima, Japan.
The grey-capped greenfinch or Oriental greenfinch (Chloris sinica) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae that breeds in broadleaf and conifer woodlands of Japan and other parts of East Asia. The grey-capped greenfinch is a medium-sized finch 12.5 to 14 cm (4.9 to 5.5 in) in length, with a strong bill and a short slightly forked tail. It nests in trees or bushes, laying 3-5 eggs. Blain photographed this greenfinch while leading a private birding photo tour Japan.
The Narcissus Flycatcher known in Japan species known as the Kibitaki is a passerine bird in the old world flycatcher family. They are native to Japan, and other parts of Asia. They are highly migratory and have been found as a vagrant from Australia to Alaska. Males are very distinctive in breeding plumage, black crown and mangle, bright orange throat with slightly paler chest and underparts, an orange, yellow eyebrow, black wings with white wing patch, an orange-yellow rump and a black tail. They feed mainly on insects and flourishes in woodlands. Blain photographed this flycatcher while leading a birding photography tour/workshops in Fukushima, Japan.
The White-cheeked Starling (spodiopsar cineraceus) is a passerine bird of the starling family and common to Japan. They are native to Japan and multiple parts of Asia; there is even a record of one reaching Homer Alaska in 1998 believed to have arrived by ship. They love to eat fruits their favorite food is said to be the Muku tree Nut and various other nuts. The adult male is mainly dark grey-brown with a paler belly and whitish band across the rump. The head is blackish white whiteish cheeks and forehead. Adult females are similar to the males but paler and duller. Blain Harasymiw photographed these white-cheeked starlings while leading his annual Autumn maple leaves highland photography tour in Japan.
The Japanese Pygmy woodpecker or (Yungipicus kizuki) is a species of woodpecker, which is found in coniferous and deciduous forests in Japan and neighboring nations. This species has also been placed in the genus Dendrocopos or Picoides. I photographed this Japanese Pygmy woodpecker while leading my annual winter wonderland Hokkaido Photography Workshop/Tour. I used a Nikon D850, lens Nikor 800mm; my setting were F/8, 1/2500s, ISO 800.
The Japanese Rat Snake is a medium-sized snake found in Japan. It is known as “Aodisho” and is a non-venomous snake and is a member of the colubrid family. Generally, they are blue, but colors vary from pale yellow-green to dark blue-green. This is a Juvenile rat snake, and the juvenile has a pattern of brown stripes, which sometimes can be mistaken at the venomous mamushi snake. Japanese rat snakes eat a variety of small animals, rodents, frogs, and lizards, they are good climbers, and they often raid birds nests. I photographed this snake at my Ocean countryside traditional Japanese home in Niigata, Japan.
The Bull-Headed Shrike is a passerine bird of Japan and most of eastern Asia and belongs to the family Laniidae. Their call is rather a harsh grating and love catering calls; they are also masters at mimicking other bird calls and are territorial. The bull-headed shrike has a sharp beak and tears apart it's prey in pieces to more easily digest. They feed mainly on insects such as beetles and crickets, but they also enjoy eating lizards and crustaceans. In Japan, they usually build a nest in bamboo forests or close by and lay 2-6 eggs with hatch after about two weeks, and the young birds fledge about two weeks after hatching. The male Bull Headed Shrike is about 19-20cm long The male has a brown crown, white eyebrow, and black mask; the back is greyish brown while the wings are dark with a white patch. Females are similar, but a little duller and a slightly darker, but has no brown mask and no white patch on its wings. I photographed this bird while leading a private birding photo workshop in Mt. Fuji Yamanashi, Japan.
Shima Enaga is a uniquely all-white face and is a sub-species of the long-tailed bushtit. The Shima - Enaga occur mostly in Japan. But they inhabit the entire Paleatrictic realm. The long-tailed tit is sometimes referred to as the silver-throated tit or silver-throated dasher. Aegithalos (long-tailed tits) are five species birds with a tail. Psaltriparus (North America Buishtit), monotypic. Psaltriparus (pygmy bushtit), monotypic. The long-tailed tit is insectivorous throughout the year. The Shima Enaga feed on predominantly arthropods and prefer the eggs and astronomical huge moths and butterflies, and sometimes eat vegetable matter. Outside of the breeding season, they live in flocks from about July to February of half a dozen to two dozen composed of the family (parents and offspring) from the previous breeding season, together with extra adults that help raise the brood. The reason for the flocking behavior is believed due to winter roosting as they are susceptible to cold, and they huddle for warmth on cold nights. When the breeding season begins, the flock brakes up, and the birds attempt to breed monogamous pairs. Females tend to wander into neighboring territories, while males remain within their winter territories. I photographed this Shima Enaga while leading my annual birding and landscape photography tour Hokkaido 2020.
The Oriental Reed Warbler is a passerine bird of migration, they arrive in the spring in Japan and most of Mid-North East Asia and depart in the autumn. Our Reed Warblers in Japan winter over across South-East Asia and most likely Taiwan, Okinawa or Indonesia, and possibly the Philippines. They are a large warbler 18-20cm long with a wingspan of 23-26cm. Their plumage is brown above, with a paler rump and whitish tips. Their underparts are whitish below and browner on the flanks and under the tail. They have a narrow grayish streak on the treat and breast. They have a dark eyestripe and a slightly whitish stripe above the eye. Their feet are grey. Their bill is fairly long and brownish above it is pink below with a bright orange gape. What makes them such an exciting bird for me is in my region of Japan, about 2km from my beach home is a marshlands lake with tall grass and walking trails. And while walking the trails you hear all around you (kiruk kiruk kiruk, jee jee jee), (krak), (si-si-si-si) the warbler calling out, and they can be mere meters way but are challenging to spot due to the high grass and dense cover of natural Camouflage in marshlands. In Niigata, Japan, by my beach home, we have it all seabirds, mountains, and marshes. Yes, Japan is a birders paradise located in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, latitudinally long at over 3000km, with climates ranging from northern boreal to the sub-tropical. There are two distinct ecological lines dividing Japan's natural indigenous plant and animal life. “The Blakiston’s Line” and the “Watase’s Line.” Due to this uniquely rare ecological condition, Japan is avifauna abundantly rich. Over 600 species have been recorded, over 60% of these are migratory. Happy Birding: Namaste, Blain in Japan
This mature white-tailed eagle, I photographed while leading my annual Hokkaido Photo Tour. The White-Tailed Eagle is also known as the white-tailed sea eagle, gray eagle, Eurasian sea eagle, which is one of the giant birds of prey in the family Accipitridae which includes other raptors such as hawks, kites, and harriers. The White-Tailed can be photographed all year round in Hokkaido, Japan. During harsh winters in Hokkaido, they co-exist with their bigger cousin The Steller’s Sea Eagle, and they can often be photographed in severe aerial combat or on a land fights, sometimes it's 2or 3 stellers against one white-tailed eagle, they especially rumble when fish is on the table. These beautiful majestic raptors are known as the fourth largest eagle in the world; they are the only species known to be more massive in bulk then the Steller’s Sea Eagle, the Harpy Eagle, and the Philippine Eagle. These eagles measure from 65-95cm in length with a wingspan of 170cm to 260cm or about 5ft 5 to 8ft 5 inches. It is said this raptor has the largest wingspan of any living eagle. The male and female are similar in coloring and appearance, the accurate way to tell them apart is by tarsus width and depth and bill depth, but this is next to impossible unless they are captive or captured then released with tracking devices on their legs. I usually tell them apart by their size in which females are generally about 30% heavier and about 15% greater in linear dimensions. The adult white-tailed eagle is greyish mid-brown colored overall. The plumage is relatively uniform over most of the body and the wings, but the wing coverts are generally paler; the rest of their plumage is usually softer looking from the head, neck, and upper breast is often a desert dawn hue. But colors of the white-tailed eagle can easily range from bright, vibrant, beautiful colors to washed out and spotted. Their bill is massive and can be vibrant orange to dull in color, and it is razor-sharp to rip apart their prey in a hurry, and they are an aggressive bird. And when fishing is terrible, they have been known to prey on rodents, young deer even family pets, young children in Hokkaido are closely watched when outside in areas the birds are plentiful from my over 25 years experience in Japan from Nemuero to Rausu Hokkaido. Once in Hokkaido, during an annual birding festival just outside of Nemuro, myself and other photographers photographed a videographer being attacked, the bird was lifting him up by his shoulders with its talons lodged firmly into his skin, muscle and bone; he spent three days in the hospital, his wounds took months to heal. The males call is Kyi-Kyi-Kyi-Kli-Kliek-Yak with the head thrown back, and the last call normally ends with a lower Ko-Ko-Ko, the female has a similar call but deeper. I photographed this White Tailed Sea Eagle in February 2019; we were in Zodiac boats, off the pacific coastline of Rausu Japan. Namaste, Blain in Japan.
The Ezo Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes schrencki) is a subspecies of red fox that is spread throughout Hokkaido, Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, and the surrounding Islands. The ezo red fox is larger than the Japanese red fox that is found in the Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Also, there are slight differences in color, of the lines on the outer ears and limbs, but other than that, they are very similar. The ezo red foxes are a master hunter; they mainly feed on rats, mounting haires, birds, and insects, and in the autumn, they enjoy eating fruit and nuts. The mother foxes give birth to their kits in the early spring, so by autumn, there is potential to see young adults recently broken away from their mothers and hunting independently for the first season. If you see a young adult or a full-grown Ezo Red Fox, you will marvel at their lustrous coat and witness the contrast of their fur and the stark whites and blacks of their surroundings. Blain in Japan has spent over 20 years leading, Hokkaido photography tours and workshops, and understands the foxes are beautiful. Still, my team and I plead with you not to feed the wild animals when on a winter wonderland safari in Japan.
The tufted duck (Aythya Fuligula) is a smaller diving duck with hundreds of thousands found in Japan, and there over a million found across Eurasia. The adult male is all black except for its white flanks, and their blue-grey bill. An easy field marking for them is their long tuft feathers from the crown of the head, which is rather cool looking similar to a ponytail and, they have bright yellow eyes. The adult female is brown with paler flanks and easily confused with other ducks. The male tufted are mostly silent but call during courtship with a simple “wit-oo,” the female has a harsh call almost a growl “Karr” and mostly in flight. I Blain in Japan photographed this duck while leading a spring Hokkaido photo tour, the tufted duck is common on Hokkaido’s east coastline with the regions many lakes and marshlands, the duck's favorite food is freshwater mussels, and they are abundant in Hokkaido’s East coastline lakes and many marshes.
The Blakiston’s Fish Owl is the largest species of owl on our planet, which is revered by the First Nations People of Japan, the Ainu. Males weigh from 2.95 to 3.6 kg (6.5 to 8 lb), while the female, weighs up to 2.95 to 4.6 kg (6.5 to 10.1 lb), and is about 25% larger. The Blakiston's fish owl measures 60 to 72 cm (24 to 28 in) in total length. The Eurasian eagle-owl is sometimes thought to be the largest owl species and is a close match in size to the Blakiston’s fish owl, but to date, all recoded measurements of the two put the Blakiston's Fish Owl as the overall largest species of owl. I photographed this Blakiston’s Fish Owl while leading my annual Hokkaido Photography Tour.
The Red-Breasted Merganser is in my top favorite birds of all time. This Sawbill is a sea duck and is the fastest of all ducks; it has been recorded at flying at speeds of160KM/h. The birds are 51–62 cm (20–24 in) long with a 70–86 cm (28–34 in) wingspan. It has a spiky crest and long thin red bill with serrated edges. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a white neck with a rusty breast, a black back, and white underparts. Adult females have a rusty head and a greyish body. The juvenile is like the female, but lacks the white-collar and has a smaller white wing patch. Their female call is a rasping prrak prrak, while the male gives a feeble hiccup-and-sneeze display call. I photographed this one while leading my annual Hokkaido photo tour; I used the Nikon D850 camera, my lens the Nikon 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR.
Fatsia Japonica is also known as the glossy-leaf fatsia paper plant or Japanese Aralia. It is a species of flowering plant in the family Araliaceae and is native to Central and Southern Japan, including Taiwan and Korea. It is an evergreen shrub that grows 1-3 meters or about 3ft to 10ft tall, with stout, sparsely branched stems. The leaves are spirally arranged and large, 20-40cm or about 7 - 16 inches in width, and on a petiole up to 50 cm or 20 inches in length, leathery, palmately lobed, and have 7-9 board lobes divided half or two-thirds of the way to the base of the leaf; the lobes are edged with coarse, blunt teeth. The flowers are small and beautifully grow in a ball; they bloom in late autumn or early winter. I know the flower has sweet nectar because the Warbling white-eye or Mejiro Japanese white-eye love slurping the nectar when these flowers bloom. I photographed these Meijiro and Fatsia Japonica from my kitchen window in Niigata, Japan. I used a Nikon D850, lens Sigma 120-300 mm Sport with a x2 teleconverter giving me 600mm. My camera's settings were ISO 6400 f/11 1/500s, and I had the Optical Stabilizer (OS) on, giving me the advantage of using a slower shutter speed. I would have liked a faster shutter speed, double or preferably triple, but with the birds feasting inside the shrub where light is low, I was already pushing the ISO, in my opinion.
The Dusky Thrush (Turns euonymus) is a remember of the thrush family and is closely related to the more southerly breeding Naumann’s thrush both of them have been often regarded as conspecific. They are between double and triple the size of the common tree sparrow. The Dusky Thrush breeds in eastern Siberia to Kamchatka and winters over in Hokkaido, Japan, and some other parts of Asia. I photographed this Dusky Thrush while leading my annual Validates Day Hokkaido Photography Tour.
The Blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius - M.s. Philippensis) is unmistakably beautiful with its blue plumage and rusty brown belly onto its vent. Females and immatures are less prominent, with dark brown upperparts and paler brown scaly underparts. The blue rock thrush is 21–23 cm (8.3–9.1 in) in length and is a starling-sized bird. These birds are residents of Japan and occur in South East Asia, Europe, North Africa; most of Asia's populations are migratory wintering in sub-Saharan Africa or India and other southeastern parts of Asia. This bonnie of a bird was formerly placed in the family Turdidae. Still, studies have shown that the species is more closely related to the Old World Flycatcher family Muscicapidae. I photographed this Blue Rock Thrush while leading a Niigata Japan Birding Tour.