Sunday, February 28, 2010

East Hokkaido Trip IV

The next morning I had to get up before 4:30 because a guy from Godzilla Iwa, the ferry company that I reserved for a morning sightseeing course, will come and pick me up at the minshuku. I actually booked for the 9am course but he said it might be canceled because there was no other guests who booked for that course other than me. So I told him that I cannot go to Rausu before 5am because I don't have a car, then he said it's okay for him to drive and pick me up from there.
It was super cold! I sat in the cabin for about 30 minutes then the boat began to leave the port. It started to get brighter as the boat reached the area where the drift ice was intense. As the first sunlight began to show up behind the Russia-occupied Kunashiri island, lots and lots of gulls began to fly from everywhere towards the boat. Then I spotted several eagles perching in a distance. The guy who drove me from Kasuga did the work on throwing fishes to the eagles. He then started to throw some of the fish down to the drift ice. The gulls flew in like crazy then followed by the eagles!

I can't think of a word to actually describe the feeling of happiness I had back then when the sun slowly rose from the beautiful and unique island, turning the cold icy water into reddish-orange color with all the birds flying from everywhere. It's just one of the moments I won't forget. When the boat had gotten into the right place and the engine had been turned off, it's time for the real shooting. I somehow think that it's quite a good occupation they're doing. Collecting 10,000 yen each for having a DSLR, more than 10 people were already in there and all with DSLR, it's already more than 100,000 yen. If they get this much of the guests everyday, at least during the season, I can't even wonder how much they can earn the money. 100,000 yen a day or more cos they can go out 2 times a day everyday, I wanna work here!

A Steller's Sea Eagle perching nicely in morning light

I love their face!

The smaller and averagely tamer White-tailed Eagle

A juvenile White-tailed

And a juvenile Steller's

Japanese people call the Steller's Sea Eagle Ō-washi(オオワシ) meaning "large eagle", and the White-tailed Eagle Ojiro-washi(オジロワシ) meaning straightforwardly "white-tailed eagle". I wikipedia the Steller's Sea Eagle and found that it's the third largest eagle in the world after the famous Harpy and Philippine Eagle. But apart from the length, it's the heaviest eagle in the world with the weight of 4.9 to 9 kilogrammes! Great that it's a bird, no one would be so proud if he/she is the heaviest person in the world.

I don't get why Japanese photographers always carry their huge lens
when the birds are always so close.

A proud Steller's Sea Eagle

And also the White-tailed Eagle

A bit of BIF

A brief period of warm sunlight

Apart from the eagles, I was greatly enjoyed by the variety of gulls. I love the Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) so much that I took almost as many photos as the eagles. They look so beautiful with their entirely white plumage, especially when they're flying against beautiful wintry landscape. The Glaucous-winged Gull (L. glaucescens) was also special but it looked a bit like the normal Vega. Slaty-backed Gull was numerous as hell and it's the species I took the least photos of.

A 1cy Glaucous Gull

Love the entirely white with pinky bill and legs

This one seems to be in its first-spring plumage

The bird gets whitest in its 2nd year.

Then it has some grey in the 3rd year.

And turns into adult in the 4th year.

Here's a lovely shot I took which shows the birds in different stage
from 2nd year(left) to 3rd year(center) and 1st year(right).

A Glaucous-winged Gull in its breeding plumage

It looks pretty much like the normal Slaty-backed in first-winter plumage
except for the pale primary feathers.

Sometimes Glaucous Gull can be quite dark too, but it has pink beak with black tip.

So before ending this entry, here are more photos of the eagles. I will continue the rest in the next entry since I think this one is getting too long now. There will be more(and more and more) eagles photos to come and a lot more photos of the birds at Rausu port as well.

Steller's Sea Eagle in flight

And the White-tailed Eagle


S.C.E. said...

Fantastic stuff. Like I said i would be I am consumed with jealousy!

Russell said...

Ayuwat!! Your photographs are all so very beautiful. Congratulations on your very successful trip. I know what you mean about never forgetting the experience. How could you? It is a magical place.

Unravel said...

S.C.E. > Don't feel jealous, you're much closer to the area than me! I don't even know when will I be able to go there again, so you have much more chances than I do!

Russell > It's truly a magical place! I really wish everyone can have a chance to be there once in a lifetime. It's truly a natural wonder.

Phil said...

Just awesome pictures, birds and landscapes. What a superb trip you had. I am just so jealous and it is certainly a long way for me.

Unravel said...

Phil > Thank you very much! I think so too that distance matters. I also wish I to visit Iceland once but it always seems so far away, but who knows.