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The Birds in the Band

JAPAN | Thursday, 5 September 2019 | Views [29]

Koji-san and White-Eye, Lake Utonai Sanctuary

Koji-san and White-Eye, Lake Utonai Sanctuary

TUJI KOJI WAS JUST STEPPING OUT OF THE WOODS as we arrived at Lake Utonai Sancturary.   When he saw my camera and Connie's binoculars he beckoned to us to see what he had in the small cloth sack.  Smiling broadly, Tuji-san — we didn't know his name until much later — produced not one, but two, tiny greenish birds — warbling white-eyes.  We watched as he attached an identification band to each bird before releasing them.  Then he gave us his card — all in Japanese — and a brochure for his “friendo” Tadashi Shimada’s photo gallery/bird-watching cafe.  Some bowing, “arigatou-ing” and “sayonara-ing” and he was gone, just like the Lone Ranger.  And we didn't yet know his name!


     One down, one to go.  Tuji Koji banding a warbling white-eye

We spent the rest of the morning walking the boardwalks and trails of the sanctuary looking for birds of our own.  Summer isn’t the best time for Hokkaido birding — it’s better during the fall migration — but we managed to log 17 species before three busloads of kids arrived.  It felt great to spend some more time in the woods and I was pleased with some of the photos.


  Great-Spotted Woodpecker


                     Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler       


                                             Eurasian Nuthatch

We arrived yesterday at Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport on Hokkaidoa after a 5-hour train ride, our final one in Japan, and picked up our rental car.  Our cruise stopped twice on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, but that’s hardly enough time to explore.  Tomorrow we’ll drive all the way up north to Abishiri for 5 nights before returning to Chitose and our flight to Nagasaki.


        For the Birds — Lunch with a View

To finish off, we had a nice lunch at Shimada-sans cafe.  His English-speaking daughter even deciphered Tuji-san’s name from his card and wrote it down. They have a nice bird-hide, good food and wonderful bird photos.  And, judging from the lunch crowd, a healthy business.


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