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Hokkaido extension.

Hokkaido in winter.

This is the highlight of any winter tour to Japan, and on every birder’s bucket list. We can expect to have excellent views of Steller’s sea-eagle, Red-crowned Crane, a good chance of Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, and a variety of quality alcids. The finest possible extension to a Taiwan tour!

We can run tours to Hokkaido any time of the year, but the Steller’s is only reliable December to February, November and March also possible. This tour includes two pelagic boat trips - but these are weather dependent and sea ice pack is becoming less predictable. Details below of what is also possible - but never guaranteed!.

Cost US$ 2,300 per person (based on minimum of 2 guests) including flights from from/to Taipei. Actual itinerary will depend on flight times, weather conditions, and ornithological requirements. This time of year is very cold, you must be prepared for temperatures of -10 or lower. We usually stay in cosy traditional Japanese-style guesthouses, some bathroom facilities will be shared and most meals will be tasty authentic Japanese.

Day 1.

We fly from Taipei (downtown Songshan) via Tokyo Haneda, to Kushiro in eastern Hokkaido. On the way to the Nemuro peninsula we will visit harbors on the look for Least Auklet, Spectacled Guillemot, Pigeon Guillemot, and Long-tailed Duck. We should have our first views of the magnificent Steller's Sea Eagle mixing with White-tailed Eagle.

Stay Nemuro area.

Day 2.

We start the day with a boat trip looking for alcids such as Ancient Murrelet, Sooty Guillemot, Pigeon Guillemot, Crested Auklet, and Thick-billed Murre. There should also be a few Red-faced Cormorants, possible Pelagic Cormorant, Common Murre, and good numbers of Black and Stejneger’s (Asian White-winged) Scoters and Harlequin Ducks. As well as the many Slaty-backed and Black-tailed Gulls there should be Glaucous, Glaucous-winged and Common. Later we visit a lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula for further sea-viewing, additional targets could include Common Goldeneye, Red-throated Loon, and Red-necked Eared and Horned Grebe. A local forest near Furen Lake can give us views of Marsh Tit, Japanese Tit, Hawfinch, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and possibly Short-eared Owl. Mammals should include the endemic subspecies of Sika Deer and Red Fox.

Stay Nemuro area.

Day 3.

After some morning forest and harbor birding we drive northwards to the Shiretoko Peninsula. On the way we will explore the Notsuke Peninsula which will hopefully provide us with Asian Rosy Finch, Long-tailed Rosefinch as well as other surprises such as Snow Bunting.  We should have fun views of Steller’s Sea-Eagles and Whooper Swans. We’ll stay at a small Japanese guesthouse where we have a good chance of encountering Blakiston’s Fish-Owl. Possibility of Japanese Marten.

Stay Rausu

Day 4.

We explore around the guesthouse for Brown Dipper, Solitary Snipe, Eurasian (Brandt’s) Jay, Eurasian Nuthatch, Coal Tit, and Willow Tit. Harbor viewing and boat trip to pack ice for more Steller’s and other sea birds. Greater Scaup, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon, Rough-legged Hawk, Rock Sandpiper, Steller’s Eider, and Brant all possible. Chance of Harbor Seal, Larga Seal, and Sea Otter. In the evening we drive to Tsurui - the Red-crowned Crane village.

Stay Tsuiru

Day 5.

Today is dedicated to enjoying the cranes at different locations. We will also scour forests looking for Ural Owl, the white-headed subspecies of Long-tailed Tit, Black-faced Bunting, Crested Kingfisher, and possibly Black Woodpecker. We will keep our eyes peeled for Naumann’s Thrush, Brown-eared Bulbul, Willow Tit, Lapland Longspur, and White-cheeked Starling.

Stay Tsuiru

Day 6.

This final contingency day is for more forest, lakes, harbors and fields - depending on what’s desired and needed. Afternoon flights back to Taipei via Tokyo.