【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape

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 first installment in the series is the Yezo sika deer of Notsuke Peninsula. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from the Kushiro Branch News Secti

May 23

Special feature

【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (30) Eighty thousand greater white-fronted geese fill the sky in an epic display

A flock of greater white-fronted geese fill the sky amid the morning glow

Just before sunrise, tens of thousands of greater white-fronted geese take to the sky together from Miyajima-numa(marsh) amid the morning glow in the city of Bibai in central Hokkaido, in search of food.

At peak times, the number of greater white-fronted geese that gather at Miyajima-numa(marsh) – a stopover site for migrating birds – reaches 80,000. In order to fly to the next stopover site, the birds build up energy by feeding on ears of wheat that have fallen in nearby fields. The energy of the birds that migrate seasonally, as they take to the sky together from a stopover site at which they have gathered is an epic display.

In the 1970s, the number of greater white-fronted geese that flew into Hokkaido decreased drastically to just a few hundred. The reason for this was the decrease in marshes and wetlands at which the birds could spend the winter. In line with the pace of the rapid economic growth, the roosts of migrating birds were reclaimed and redeveloped. To make things worse, the quality of water in the rivers, lakes and marshes also deteriorated.

Subsequently, environmental conservation and pollution control measures in Japan gradually changed, the nature conservation movement gained momentum, and the number of greater white-fronted geese that fly into Hokkaido made a V-shaped recovery.
(Words and photo: Shigeru Tadanobu)

Location

Miyajima-numa(marsh)

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