Greater white-fronted geese blanket the sky during "take-off" at Bibai's Miyajima Marsh

At daybreak, a massive flock of greater white-fronted geese takes off from the roosting wetland area in unison. All that can be heard is a loud, high pitch squawking reverberating throughout the entire area. (Approx. 5:35 a.m. on October 5 at Miyajima Marsh in Bibai City)

Miyajima Marsh (Bibai City, Central Hokkaido) is a Ramsar Convention registered wetland and one of the most prominent midway points for migrating birds in Japan. It is home to coming and going flocks of greater white-fronted geese, which are designated a national natural treasure in Japan. There, photograph enthusiasts have their cameras trained on the area from early in the morning, waiting to capture the “take-off” moment when all of the geese take flight together from the wetlands towards their feeding area.

On a dim October 5th morning from around 5:00 a.m. onward, near the wetlands with its susuki grass blowing in the wind, some forty people watched and waited. Immediately after the massive chorus of geese squawking grew suddenly loud, low pitched sound of wings filled the surrounding area and a massive flock of greater white-fronted geese took off, blanketing the predawn sky.

Greater white-fronted geese stop off at Miyajima Marsh amidst their approximately 4,000-kilometer journey from their mating grounds in Siberia to their winter home in Miyagi Prefecture. During the day, they peck at left over rice husks in nearby paddies, and in the evening, they return to the wetlands.

According to the Miyajimanuma Waterbird & Wetlands Center, approximately 47,000 geese live in the wetlands as of October 3, and they usually start leaving gradually around early through mid-October onward.


Miyajima Marsh