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