animals

  • The baby red pandas getting close to their mother, Asunaro (center). November 24 at 10:50 a.m.

    Baby red panda twins, which were born in July, have gone on display at Kushiro Zoo in eastern Hokkaido. On November 24, the baby red pandas and their mother, Asunaro (5 years old female) were displ...

  • The Shunkunitai Wild Bird Sanctuary in the city of Nemuro in eastern Hokkaido has conducted the autumn’s first population survey of whooper swans at Lake Fuuren and Onneto Marsh, and confirmed 1,396 birds. The number is 476 more than the average for the same period in the past five years (2016–‘20). It is believed that the birds arriving earlier than usual has had an effect on the numbers.

  • The transition from autumn to winter brings hordes of migratory birds hurrying into East Hokkaidō. Their flocks are restless and noisy: geese and swans clamour at coastal lagoons; ducks, divers, grebes and gulls become plentiful offshore and in harbours; and chattering flocks of thrushes, buntings and finches are on the move southwards busily seeking warmth and food. By Mark Brazil

  • 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.

  • Driving towards Shibetsu from Konpoku Pass in Eastern Hokkaido on National Route 244, a brown bear mother appeared with cubs in front of the car. The sight of a cub chasing after his mother with his little hindquarters swinging back and forth was amazingly cute.

  • The green color of trees reflects on the surface of Lake Kussharo (Teshikaga Town in the Eastern Hokkaido Kushiro region), but the atmosphere of autumn has touched this area as well. At the lakeside, I encountered a crested kingfisher, a bird known for the crested plumage atop its head. The crested kingfisher is immensely cautious, so getting close to the bird is difficult. They establish territories at mountain streams and lakes and live there, but they rarely ever show themselves. They can be identified by a high-pitched chirping sound generated while flying, which can be heard over long distances. When it found a perching tree for hunting the fish it feeds on, I hid myself in a slightly removed spot so as not to stand out, and waited.

  • The Cape Kiritappu (Cape Tofutsu) in the town of Hamanaka in Eastern Hokkaido's Kushiro region is gradually becoming a breeding area for the sea otter, which is an endangered species. And on September 14, the eighth newborn sea otter cub was confirmed to have been born on the coast of the Cape. At the time of discovery, the newborn cub was assumed to be several days old, and it was covered with soft brown fur. It sat atop its mother's stomach, squealing and suckling. Currently, two female sea otters are raising cubs at the Cape. They can be observed, but the mothers are extremely alert, so observers must take care to not make noise and hide in the grass.

  • Propelling its tail fin high in the air, the giant sperm whale begins to dive. Sightseers aboard the boat cheer at the breathtaking sight. I searched for whales on a whale watching sightseeing boat that departed from Rausu Port. Although sperm whales have large bodies, they have comparatively small back fins, making them difficult to find. According to the guide on the sightseeing boat, sperm whales spout air at a slightly diagonal angle, and that can be one way of spotting them. But even using binoculars, all I could see was the brightly shining sea water.

  • On September 23, a dead, beached whale was seen being eaten by brown bears at Shiretoko Peninsula in the town of Shari, situated in Eastern Hokkaido's Okhotsk region. A video was captured by a passenger on a brown bear observation cruise ship that departed from the Aidomari Fishing Port in the town of Rausu.

  • While traveling across a scree slope in search of pika rock rabbits halfway up Mt. Tokachidake, I encountered two chipmunks. Many mammals are highly independent and often live alone, except during the breeding and parenting seasons. Perhaps the two chipmunks were siblings that were born this year; as I moved closer, I could see them gazing at each other, their faces occasionally touching.

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