道東 2日目 羅臼 / Eastern Hokkaido Day 2 Rausu

Bettoga (別当賀) to Rausu (羅臼)

Leaving the Fureshima Marshland, I headed for Rausu, stopping at Lake Furenko (風蓮湖) and the Notsuke (野付) Peninsula.

ノスリ Common Buzzard
A Common Buzzard standing on a roadside post

The standing rows of dead trees are famous for the Narawara and Todowara trees on the Notsuke Peninsula, but they could also be seen along the Furenko Lake.

枯れ木の立ち並ぶ草地 Meadow lined with dead trees
This one is also quaint with a desolate atmosphere.
氷の上に集まるカモメの群れ flock of seagulls gathering on ice
It was the time of year when the ponds were finally starting to freeze. Black-tailed Gulls, Mew Gulls, Slaty-backed Gulls, and Black-headed Gulls. There was also a Glaucous gull, although it is not in the photo.
氷の上を歩くオオハクチョウ Whooper Swans walking on ice
The Whooper Swans, perhaps not yet accustomed to the ice, sometimes slip and slide as they walk.
粉雪の降る中、木に止まるオジロワシ a White-tailed Eagle perches in a tree during a powdery snowfall
As I headed north and approached the Notsuke Peninsula, snow clouds loomed. A White-tailed Eagle in the sun with a few flakes of snow.

The Notsuke Peninsula, with its 30 km long sandbar, is one of the places I wanted to see in detail this time. In addition to its unique scenery, the peninsula is a good place for bird watching. The tip of the peninsula is known to be visited by Snow Bunting. Although my main plan was to visit the next day, I decided to stop by for a preliminary inspection and, if possible, to explore the area.

湾内の陸地に枯れ木が密集している。空には雪雲が覆いかぶさっている。 Dead trees are clustered on the land in the bay. The sky is covered with snow clouds.
Standing dead trees form an unusual landscape of Narawara on the Notsuke Peninsula.
光が差す湾内の風景 Scenery of the bay with light
There are many desolate landscapes all the way from Kiritappu.
粉雪が舞う荒涼とした半島を歩くエゾシカ Ezo sika deer walking on a desolate peninsula with powdery snow
There are Ezo sika deer everywhere. I wonder how far their range of behavior is.
雲間から太陽の光が湾を照らす Sunlight shines through the clouds on the bay.
Since it is a flat peninsula with no ups and downs, landscape photography is more difficult than expected.

After driving for a while, you will find a nature center. A little further on is a dirt road, and you need to apply for a permit to drive in. There seems to be no restriction on the issuance of the permit, but you must go there and return during the center’s business hours (9:00 am to 4:00 pm).

When I asked a staff member at the center, who appeared to be a veteran ranger, about the snow bunting, he replied that it would take two hours just to get to the tip and back, and that it was practically impossible to do so today.

Anyway, what made me a little uncomfortable was that this person seemed to be making fun of me from beginning to end. I was also a young looking person, so I guess he thought I was an inexperienced person looking for a cute bird I saw on social networking sites! I wonder if it was like that?

Their job is to broaden the base of people who are familiar with nature, and I guess that is the purpose of the center. I would like to see the center make positive suggestions on how to increase the probability of success and enjoy the experience, rather than just saying that it is impossible for an amateur to go out alone.

草むらを歩くオスのエゾシカ Male Ezo sika deer walking in the grass
Leaving the center, I saw a deer on the side of the road. No telephoto lens needed.
雪の降る中、車で移動する Driving around in the snowy weather
Before dark, I headed for Rausu Town. It was snowing here.

In Rausu, I stayed at the Eagle Inn (washi-no yado). This place is famous for the endangered Blakiston’s Fish Owl that can be observed in the stream in front of it. Fish are released in part of the stream, and special lighting makes it easy to photograph them.

Check in at 4:00 p.m. and prepare the equipment. Guests can observe the owls coming right in front of their rooms from the shortest distance. Visitors who only want to photograph the owls will be able to view them from a separate house located some distance away. Since there is no need to find a spot and unlimited observation time is available, staying overnight is recommended if possible.

羅臼の鷲の宿の様子 The Eagle Inn "Washi no Yado" in Rausu
The next morning. The white building on the right is the inn. The brown prefab building in the center is the dining hall and annex for visitors.

The day before, the owl had arrived at 4:30 p.m. I quickly took a bath.

The target came immediately.

木に止まるシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl perches on a tree
It swoops down into the trees without a sound. In fact, it is quite dark except around the fish, making it difficult to focus. D500 + 500mm, 3 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 *Exposure values are for reference only, except for 85mm, because exposure was increased during RAW development.
地面に立ち大きく目を見開いたシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl standing on the ground, eyes wide open
Go down to the stream to see how the fish are doing. D750 + 500mm, 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400
魚を取りに翼を大きく広げ水に飛び込んだシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl leaps into the water with its wings spread wide to catch fish
Boom! It’s quite large when it spreads its wings. D750 + 500mm, 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200
魚を捕まえたシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl caught fish
Caught fish.
魚を飲み込むシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl swallowing a fish
The fish is swallowed whole. (Different individual from above because the anklet is visible) D500 + 500mm, 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200

The lighting seems to be a pulse with a period slightly shorter than 1/80, so shooting at a shutter speed of 1/80 stops the motion like a strobe. For a while, I was shooting at 1/90 because the camera was set to 1/2 step, but the images were sometimes vignetted. On the other hand, if you slow down the speed to 1/10, the motion becomes a frame-by-frame afterimage. Because of the low light level, it is necessary to increase the sensitivity to a reasonable level.

後ろを振り向くシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl looking back
They were seen exploring even in streams where fish were not stocked. D500 + 500mm, 1/10 sec, f/5.6, ISO 6400
川の中に立つシマフクロウ a Blakiston's Fish Owl standing in the stream

Two birds appeared repeatedly that day, making it difficult to decide when to have dinner.

沢の様子と枝に止まるシマフクロウ A stream and a Blakiston's fish owl perched on a branch
A Blakiston’s Fish Owl looking around on a tree branch. The site is actually almost completely dark, so there is a faint shadow of an owl? That’s about it. D750 + 85mm, 1 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800
月に照らされる雲と星空 Clouds and starry sky lit by the moon

This Eagle Inn is booked up from spring (10 months in advance), mainly by foreign visitors in February, when many visitors come to the inn for drift ice. Since Blakiston’s Fish Owl has nothing to do with drift ice, it was a good decision to stay in December.

Continued on Day 3

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