Our Japan – Winter Birding tour explores the main islands of Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu where some of the world’s most amazing and desirable birds can be found, whilst simultaneously enjoying the wonderfully diverse scenery and fine local cuisine. On Honshu we will search for an array of specialties, including the stunning endemic Copper and Green Pheasant, Japanese Green Woodpecker, Japanese Accentor and dainty Japanese Waxwing. We will also spend time with endearing families of Japanese Macaques, better known as Snow Monkeys, at their hotspring hangouts. Hokkaido, to the far north of Japan’s long chain of islands, will open the curtain to a wonderland of snow, frozen lakes and pine forests. This is the land of the Red-crowned Crane, which dances these snowfields with grace and elegance. White-tailed Eagle and the world’s largest eagle, Steller’s Sea Eagle, cavort on the icy coastline, while vast numbers of sea-dwelling ducks and gulls join loons and alcids in the frigid Pacific Ocean. Another star bird here is the magnificent Blakiston’s Fish Owl, an incredible heavyweight of the owl world! Further south at Kyushu, over 10,000 cranes congregate during these winter months to escape the blizzards of the Siberian steppes. The majority consist of White-naped and Hooded Cranes, although a remarkable seven crane species have been recorded! Large stands of temperate broad-leaved forests harbor Japanese Grosbeak and Japanese Wood and Whistling Green Pigeon, whilst Baikal Teal is regular on small water-bodies and the striking Japanese Murrelet will be sought offshore.
Our Southern Islands Extension visits the subtropical islands of Amami and Okinawa and, with their white-sand beaches and palm trees, makes for a striking contrast to the frigid islands of the north. These tiny isles are home to an array of extremely localized endemics, with Amami hosting the beautiful Lidth’s Jay, Amami Thrush and the endangered Amami Woodcock. On Okinawa we seek out the threatened Black-faced Spoonbill and a horde of other over-wintering migrants, before turning our attention to the island’s specials including the remarkable and elusive Okinawa Rail and Okinawa Woodpecker, as well as Ryukyu Robin, Ryukyu Minivet and Ryukyu Scops Owl.