• the Nemuro region. On March 10, two netted deer were sighted near the middle of the 28-kilometer long sandspit. The nonprofit "Notsuke Eco Network", which engages in activities including cleaning projects, is considering tranquilizing the deer with blow-dart-delivered anesthesia to remove the tangled netting.

  • In southern Japan, delicate vernal blossoms of plum, peach and cherry now bedeck the branches, proving that a new season has arrived and showing that everything is alive — It’s spring! Meanwhile, in northern Japan, it is snow that coats the limbs of trees, snow that blizzards and lies deeply piled and drifted between forest trees, snow that brightens mountain flanks and threatens to crush the ageing roof beams of abandoned houses, and it is drift ice that covers the sea, proving that the old season’s frosty, vicelike grip remains hard — It’s still winter!! By Mark Brazil

  • It’s 3:15 p.m. ‘The glow of the firefly’ is played through the speakers to signal closing time at Asahiyama Zoo, and the wolves begin to howl in deep, sharp tones, as the breath they exhale turns white in the cold. The howls and barks come from the timber wolves.

  • Video footage taken by photographer Ando Makoto (57) from the village of Tsurui in the Kushiro region of Eastern Hokkaido received the first place "Winner" award in the video category for the globally renowned nature photography contest "Nature's Best Photography Asia 2021". Ando is also a professional nature guide, and has captured video footage of Eastern Hokkaido animals like brown bears and red-crowned cranes. Amidst the shock to Hokkaido tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic, Ando commented on his joy at winning, "This is a chance to show the world the amazingness of Eastern Hokkaido and contribute to a revival post-COVID tourism."

  • Amidst the onset of the Okhotsk region drift ice season, on January 25 the town of Tokoro within Kitami City was one of the areas to receive an inflow of drift ice into its offshore area. At Tokoro Jonan Beach, drift ice covers the entire expanse.

  • At the Daisetsuzan Nature School, we provide environmental education for local children. We are putting together a list of 100 things that all kids in Hokkaido should experience. These experiences are not just fun outdoor activities, but also those we adults think would help develop an understanding of our environment. Understanding the environment and how our actions affect it, is key for us to live sustainably for generations to come.

  • On December 27, four spotted seals that had been cared for at the Okhotsk Tokkari Center Seal Land in the city of Mombetsu in the Okhotsk region of eastern Hokkaido, were returned to the sea from Mombetsu Port. The seals have transmitters attached to their backs and, in addition to ecological research, the seals will also play a role in environmental research in the Sea of Okhotsk.

  • 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.