Monday 3 March 2014

Siberian White Cranes

Yet another Japan tick, what a great start to the year it's been. These fantastic birds wintered near Tosa (Kochi prefecture) in Shikoku, slightly beyond the distance I'd be willing to go for them. How far I'd twitch beyond Kansai depends on the bird, its rarity and whether a lifer or not impart a degree of elasticity to the invisible boundaries of my got-to-go-zone. Magnificent as these birds are are, I always imagine our visits to the crane wintering grounds in Kyushu will coincide one of these winters... and Tosa is a long drive. However, when they decided to relocate to just the other side of the Nishi Akashi Bridge, about halving the distance, any common sense reason not to go could be safely binned.

Siberian White is a fairly regular though not annual winter visitor to Japan but three birds together is unheard of, at the very least in recent times, and significantly ups the wow factor.

I found another albus Great White Egret at the site, it briefly joined the Cranes before flying much closer and giving excellent views. This is my third this winter and mirrors 2012 when I found two in quick succession, it's possible I overlook some birds but it is always something I look out for. Quite by chance, not long after I'd seen this bird, a Japanese birder I met there suggested I look out for O Dai-sagi (this taxon) as he'd seen one or two around this winter which he considered unusual for the area, suggesting I'm not missing too many.

The albus Great White Egret dropped in with the Cranes and though small by comparison, it stands up surprisingly well.


  1. This is cool! I did not know the Siberian cranes wintered in Japan as well! Do you think these ones came from Siberia? Have you spotted more of them in Japan in the past few years as well?

    1. They are a very rare winter visitor to Japan, they don't occur every year but in exceptional years there could be as many as three or four in the country. This winter, there was one at the crane centre at Izumi in Kyushu.