Tag Archives: whooper swan

Georgia’s thoughts on our Winter Wildlife of Japan photography holiday

Early morning in Rausu sees the eagles greet the fishing fleet captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Hi! I’m Georgia Wilson. It wasn’t my idea to attend the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday … that belonged to my eagle mad husband, Graeme. Complicated photographic gear makes my eyes glaze over. So why, you may ask, would I consider going?

Well, I’ve never been to Japan & I like being out in the wilderness areas. I love observing animals & birds in their natural habitat … probably more to the point, I have a spirit of adventure. The thought of being on a boat in the middle of pack ice sounded fun. So with that thought in mind, I agreed to go.
Some wouldn’t consider me as a serious photographer because I only used a Canon Powershot SX720 HS, which has 40x optical zoom & HTC One XL phone camera. However, that thought didn’t stop me from trying to get the most out of my little cameras.
For this trip, I wanted to keep things simple. I set the Powershot on automatic, so the camera made all the technical decisions. I was in charge of the framing. The photos below, just a selection from over 300o, are just as they were taken … no ‘doctoring up’. BTW, the cameras were handheld, i.e. no tripod or monopod. & I think the photos are a testimony to what a fine camera the Canon Powershot is.
Moral of the story … you don’t have to have the expensive photographic equipment to enjoy this trip. All you need is a spirit of adventure & imagination, plus a sense of fun; if you go with the flow, you’ll have a wonderful time.

Georgia herself, bringing a special kind of Aussie bubbliness to the tour captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Mount Fuji captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday The mountainous landscape of Hokkaido in Winter captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday The red crowned cranes at their roosting site near Tsuri captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Perfect moon captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Close up of one of the red crowned cranes of Akan captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday A trio of whooper swans sleep on the thermal waters of Lake Kussharo captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Early morning in Rausu sees the eagles greet the fishing fleet captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday One of Hokkaido's red foxes pauses as he crosses the snow captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

This trip to see & photograph the Winter Wildlife of Japan was a bazillion times better than any written description could convey. I lost count at the number of jaw-dropping experiences I had … the sunrises, sunsets, every changing light to watch a living painting unfold, surreal, elegant, mystical.

Blend this with the graciousness of the Japanese & their culture … PLUS a small group of quirky travel companions … all perfect ingredients to create a trip that I will remember forever.

Photograph the Winter Wildlife of Japan for yourself

To photograph the charismatic winter wildlife of Japan for yourself, join David Miles & Ian Roberts, members of the NaturesLens guiding team, in Japan during February 2019 for a trip lasting 13 nights; this photography holiday will offer you the opportunity to capture images of the red-crowned crane, snow monkey, steller’s sea eagle, white tailed sea eagle, whooper swan, plus more; the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday is offered on a half board, non-shared room basis, & costs £5249 per participant, but there are several early-bird places available priced at £4999.

All the details of the  Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday are available on the dedicated event page.

Graeme’s thoughts on our Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

A bloody squabble, breaks out over fish, between several of the Steller's & White Tailed Sea Eagles photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

In less than six months, I will be returning to Japan, for the 5th time. It is a country that never ceases to amaze me during the Winter time. Next year we are taking a smaller group to photograph the Japanese Winter Wildlife, but that should make it all the more fun. I will be stepping aside from the trip that is scheduled for 2019, but Pui Hang will be taking over the reins along with a co-guide.

A bloody squabble, breaks out over fish, between several of the Steller's & White Tailed Sea Eagles photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

But, back to the matter at hand. In February 2017, I had the great pleasure of meeting Graeme & Georgia as part of the group attending our Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography HolidayGraeme was entranced by all the wildlife that we encountered, & fully embraced the food, custom & habitat of Hokkaido. He sent in the following images & some words relating to the trip. I cannot wait to meet up with them again in 2018, but for some different species on that occasion!

We prepared well & thought we knew what to expect in Japan. But nothing could prepare us for the reality of dozens of Steller’s & White-tailed Eagles grabbing fish right beside the boat out of Rausu, Hokkaido.

A White Tailed Sea Eagle lines itself up to pluck a fish from the icy seas photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday A White Tailed Sea Eagle makes a final adjustment to pluck a fish from the icy seas photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday A Steller's Sea Eagle twists in the air to dive towards the icy seas photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday A Steller's Sea Eagle makes a final adjustment to pluck a fish from the icy seas photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday A Steller's Sea Eagle makes a speedy exit having plucked a fish from the icy seas photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday One of the Steller's Sea Eagles takes flight over the snowy landscape of Hokkaido photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Or the number of  Macaque Monkeys in the snow & thermal spring pool.

One of the young snow monkeys peers over the edge of the thermal pool photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Nor the elegant red-crowned cranes in flight, & their beautiful courtship dance.

One of the red crowned cranes takes flight over the snowy landscape of Hokkaido photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday The courtship dance of the red crowned cranes the national bird of Hokkaido photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Or pure white Whooper Swans against a backdrop of snow & mountains.

A whooper swan races across the ice to take to the skies photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography HolidayThe thermal pool, in which the swans find respite from the harsh winter conditions photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

The list goes on.

And that doesn’t even mention the fantastic accommodation & Japanese food included in the itinerary .. or the photography lessons … or the information about Hokkaido & Japan in general.

I hope my pictures do the plethora of Japanese Winter Wildlife justice!

An airbourne squabble, over a frozen lake, between a Steller's Sea Eagle & a White Tailed Sea Eagle photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Photograph the Winter Wildlife of Japan for yourself

To photograph the charismatic winter wildlife of Japan for yourself, join David Miles & Ian Roberts, members of the NaturesLens guiding team, in Japan during February 2019 for a trip lasting 13 nights; this photography holiday will offer you the opportunity to capture images of the red-crowned crane, snow monkey, steller’s sea eagle, white tailed sea eagle, whooper swan, plus more; the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday is offered on a half board, non-shared room basis, & costs £5249 per participant, but there are several early-bird places available priced at £4999.

All the details of the  Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday are available on the dedicated event page.

Winter Wildlife in Japan – Whooper Swans & Foxes

A solitary whooper swan swims in a thawed area of one of the Caldera Lakes of Hokkaido photographed by Nicola Billows during the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Whooper Swans – the graceful aspect of Winter Wildlife in Japan

The Whooper Swans of Lake Kussharo are always a revelation to our guests. When one thinks of winter wildlife in Japan, the first thought is inevitable, Snow Monkeys, followed closely by Steller’s Sea Eagles & Red-Crowned Cranes. But people rarely think “I want to go there to photograph whooper swans” & who would blame them?

Take a look at Nicola’s images below. Such beautiful, elegant birds with plenty of opportunities to photograph them in flight, walking in the snow & sat on the lake with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. The possibilities are endless.

A Whooper Swan comes in to land on the snowy landscape of Hokkaido photographed by Nicola Billows during the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday A bevy of whooper swans wander across the snowy landscape of Hokkaido photographed by Nicola Billows during the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography HolidayA pair of whooper swans wander across the snowy landscape of Hokkaido photographed by Nicola Billows during the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography HolidayA solitary whooper swan isolated within the snowy landscape of Hokkaido photographed by Nicola Billows during the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday Continue reading

Special pricing offer for Japan in Winter 2018

One of the young snow monkeys found in the Jigokudani Valley photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

If you are a pair of travelling companions or a couple, we have an offer that might entice you to join our Japan in Winter Photography Holiday in February 2018, for a room that is shared, can you book a pair of places for £5199 each instead of £5499!

You & a companion can join us & spend time with the gorgeous snow monkeys as shown in this post, also several days with the red-crowned cranes & the whooper swans, then four days focussed on stellers sea eagles & white-tailed sea eagles on our six boat trips & also at a couple of other locations.

A young snow monkey of the Jigokudani Valley photographed on the NaturesLens Japan in Winter Photography Holiday

For travelling companions happy to share a room or a couple, you can book a pair of places for £10,398 – details of the whole trip are available here, quote JAPANPAIR in the referral code text box to have the discount applied to your booking – you can book now & hold your places with 20% deposit only! Continue reading

Another successful Japanese Winter Wildlife tour to Hokkaido & Honshu

No bird typifies time on Hokkaido more than the Red Crowned Crane photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

I’ve just returned from spending two weeks, in good company of some great NaturesLens clients, where we were on a trip to attempt photograph the fantastic Japanese Winter Wildlife, including the Blakiston’s fish owl, the red crowned crane, the adorable snow monkeys in their spa & in the snow, the fantastic Steller’s Sea Eagle, & their close relations the White-Tailed Sea Eagle, dreamy Whooper Swans & more in the wintery landscapes of Japan.

One of the young snow monkeys found in the Jigokudani Valley photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

This year, for potentially the last time, we started our Japanese Winter Wildlife trip with the snow monkeys; for next year, we will be starting on Hokkaido & finishing with the snow monkeys, this is mainly so that we can get into a truly wonderful hotel, that no-one should miss out upon. This year, as every year, the snow monkeys did not disappoint, all our clients captured some fantastic images of these primates in their hot spa & in the surrounding snow-clad valley.

A young snow monkey, as can be found in the Jigokudani Valley photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

The first photographic target species on Hokkaido are always the red-crowned cranes, every year, we try for sunset, sunrise & daytime images of these graceful birds – this year, we only had a decent sunset on the first day of two in the area, but the cranes obliged & flew over the tree-line & in-front of the setting sun.

No bird typifies time on Hokkaido more than the Red Crowned Crane photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Moving on from the cranes, we spent several days photographing the beautiful whooper swans on their caldera lake, these are a subject people always fall in love with. Our hotel for the swans was one that boasts wildlife literally outside the windows, & we had a Blakiston’s fish owl & fox come up from the river. The next morning, sable & Hokkaido squirrel were spotted, along with another fox.

After a couple of days in the area, we moved on, northwards, three days of bitter cold, early morning starts & a plethora of eagle action was promised, & delivered upon. Each of the days was very different in conditions, with pack ice forcing us back into the harbour on the second day. Each day, the eagles kept us entertained & the memory cards just kept being filled with superb images of the birds diving, posing, performing flypasts & more.

One of the Sea Eagles soars over the ice laden seas of Hokkaido photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

A quick sojourn down the peninsulas on our way towards the south of Hokkaido, saw us photographing fox & deer in large quantities, & heading to a large frozen lake to photograph the morning squabble for fish amongst Black-eared Kites, White-tailed Sea Eagles & Steller’s Sea Eagles. This location produces some of the cleanest background images of the eagles that I believe are achievable, the action is frantic, like a kite-feeding station, the interactions often harsh, but the photographic opportunities are plentiful.

A steller's sea eagle flies over one of the frozen lakes of Hokkaido in the Winter photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

A Steller's Sea Eagles lands on the ice of one of Hokkaido's lakes photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

One of the Steller's Sea Eagles soars over the ice of one of Hokkaido's lakes photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

February 2018 is yet another return visit to Japan to photograph the various species on offer, including the blakiston’s fish owl, red crowned crane, snow monkey, stellers sea eagle, ural owl, white tailed sea eagle, whooper swan & more; so if you fancy photographing the wonderful winter wildlife & the amazing bleak landscapes, whilst absorbing the culture & everything else Japan in Winter has to offer, then join me for this spectacular Winter Wildlife experience, all the details of the Japanese Winter Wildlife photography holiday may be viewed here.

One place left to join me in a Winter Wonderland

A blanket of white as far as the eye can see. Fat flakes lazily tumble down to create the illusion that you are actually sitting inside a snow globe. Across a land that lies heavy with tradition, an abundance of wildlife thrives. Snow monkeys bathing in the onsen, beautiful red crowned cranes seem to dance in the air, while Steller’s Sea Eagles & White Tailed Sea Eagles drift on pack ice. See it all with the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Holiday.

One of the Steller's Sea Eagles photographed on the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

The headline features of the NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Holiday, are as follows:

  • To be conducted between the dates of February 11, 2017 – February 24, 2017.
  • Lead by David Miles.
  • Capture images of the Red Crowned Cranes, Snow Monkeys, Stellers Sea Eagles, White Tailed Sea Eagles & Whooper Swans! 
  • Three days of photographing the impressive Stellers & White-Tailed sea eagles, with a 5am & 9am cruises each day whilst on Hokkaido.
  • Photography at a sea eagle feeding site on a frozen lake, this provides some amazing opportunities for shots of interaction between the sea eagles of both types, plus black-eared kites
  • Like most of our tours – No single supplement!
  • Easy flights into & out of Tokyo.
  • All airport transfers, accommodation, meals on a half-board basis & activities whilst in Japan are included.
  • Tuition on an as-needed basis from David.

Continue reading