Hokkaido Winter Birding Photo Tours means veering off the beaten paths and steering away from the major cities that most people associate with in Hokkaido. Everyone knows Sapporo as the north island’s capital city, and others are familiar with Yubari for its delicious sweet bread that are produced there. However, north of Yubari, and north-east of Sapporo is a small town called Bibai.
Bibai is not often seen by visiting photographers, but with 20+ years of experience that Japan Dreamscapes (JDS) Photo Tour Leaders have, they understand the value of scouting new locations and taking photo tour adventures as a way to help clients enjoy their Hokkaido Winter Birding Photo Tours in the future. During one such excursion, the pristine wetlands of Lake Miyajima caught their eye. While many people will be staying on the beaten path for the 2020 Olympics and staying in Tokyo, we encourage you to visit Hokkaido. Lake Miyajima is part of the Ramsar Convention for preservation and conservation of important wetlands and marsh areas. The Bibai/Lake Miyajima area’s importance for the wildlife that roost there year round cannot be overstated.
For your photographic enjoyment, White-fronted geese gather at the lake in large numbers and stay in the area until well into April. The Great Reed Warbler also passes through the area during the winter heading south. Rarer sightings include birds such as the Great Tit. More than 10,000 whistling swans pass through the area during early spring on their way to Ohkotsk. Also wild ducks, mainly long-eared ducks, but they make way for the large number of swan and geese that roost in the area during winter and early spring. Whooper swans also make this location their home during their migration.
The reason why the area is so popular for so many species of fowl is the rolling landscapes full or wild rice that is being loosely cultivated as part of the Ramsar Convention preservation efforts. There being so much food available in fallen rice that the birds of all species flock to the area in order to store up energy in the readily available food. The interplay of the avian visitors with the splendid natural landscapes make this a rare photo op on your Hokkaido Photo Tour.