【Series】Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (2) Crested Kingfisher

Crested kingfisher with its beautiful wings wide open

In this series, the transformation of four seasons will be introduced through articles on wild animals that are active in the deep forests, marshes, and ocean as if they were being cradled by “Kamui,” which means deity in the Ainu language. The second installment in the series is the crested kingfisher of Lake Kussharo. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from Kushiro Branch News Section.)

As autumn advances, the temperature drops sharply along the Kussharo Lakeside in Teshikaga Town in eastern Hokkaido. When the sun rose, the morning fog that was covering on the lake surface started clearing away.
A bird flies low, almost sliding along the lake surface. The bird chirps so loudly, the sound reverberates far away. It is a crested kingfisher approximately 35 centimeters in length. It finds a perch branch at the lake shore and expands its wings to lower its speed. At the moment it perches on the branch, the spreading wings display a beautiful, expanding black and white spot pattern.
Crested kingfishers are popular among wild bird lovers for the way they dive into water to catch small fish. In Hokkaido, they live around rivers near villages, but they are very cautious and sensitive to signs of people and even small foot step sounds, so they fly away in a millisecond. Even if you find one by chance, they are rare treasures that you can only see again only if you keep returning patiently.
When the leaves from broadleaf trees at the water side fall and it becomes easier to see the shore, the chance of seeing these rare treasures hidden amidst tree shadows increases.


Lake Kussharo