Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Japanese Cranes in Winter

Last year, we took a trip to Kushiro during Golden Week, and were excited about seeing Tancho (Japanese cranes). Winter is the best time to see them, so we decided to take a three day weekend and drove to Kushiro (six hours each way).  We were fortunate to see so many of them!

The Japanese crane, or red crowned crane, is among the rarest in the world, with about 2700 in the wild.  Eastern Hokkaido is where most of them are found. These cranes are seen as a symbol of luck, longevity, and fidelity.

Saturday morning we went out early to a bridge, where the tancho are known to roost overnight. Ted was in photographer’s heaven with ten cameras and fifty lenses and tripods and monopods (a slight exaggeration). He had the yellow box plus four camera bags and the tripod and monopod.

He wasn’t the only one. It was kind of interesting to see the different accessories the other photographers had, like little hammocks under the tripods and camouflage lens covers.

The mist was rising from the river as the birds seem to be waking up.

We spent several hours watching them. It was interesting to see how all the birds were in pairs or pairs with last year’s baby. The heads of the young ones are kind of brownish, instead of the black/white/red of the adults.  Some fished for food and eventually most of them flew away.


We bought lunch at a Seco-Mart and drove to the Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary.  After eating lunch in the car, Ted spent the next four hours out in the cold taking about 8,000 photos (no exaggeration). I had a great view from where we were parked, so I watched the show and working on basting some hexagons. The cranes danced around right in front of us!

It was really an amazing day!


Queeniepatch said...

It looks magical and I fully understand that all the photographers were in heaven. Many photos like these end up in calendars and nature photo books. What will Ted do with all of his images?

Thoeria said...

Absolutely stunning pics!

Anonymous said...

So beautiful. I feel like I was there. I am in awe of Ted. Thank you for sharing!

D1-D2 said...

Wow, in those last few pictures it really does look like they're dancing. It was like looking at a play. Are there traditional plays in Japan featuring dancing cranes? I know they do in Korea.

Fiona said...

wonderful pictures... how fantastic to see this...