We've had a cracking time the last three days, seeing lots of good birds including Steller's Sea Eagles, Northern (Siberian) Grey Shrike, countless seaduck including Stejneger's and Black Scoter and more Harlequins than you know what to do with; we're still going good with the gulls too. However, there is a certain bird that deserves its own post... the world's largest owl. This is our first night off them, having visited a couple of sites, Yuyado Daiichi at Yoroushi-onsen and then last night at Washi no Yado just outside the town of Rausu. Both were absolutely gripping, in their own ways. We saw two birds at each site.
|Blakiston's Fish Owl Yoroushi-onsen, Hokkaido 27th December 2015|
|Blakiston's Fish Owl Washi no Yado, Hokkaido 27th December 2015|
Yoroushi-onsen gave us by far the closer views, with birds perched just metres away as they fished. You're looking through glass here though, and as the place is a spa retreat it's possible you'll have to put up with members of the public blocking your view. Make sure too that if you visit this site you have something less than a 400mm lens as the birds are obviously massive and way too close (unless you just want head shots).
Washi no Yado is the old school site, set up for birders and photographers with a more rustic feel. It was probably more atmospheric too, perhaps because we visited in heavy snow. What you have here is a special viewing room, where you can open the windows without any glare. Compared to Yoroushi-onsen, the birds are a little bit more distant (but that's not necessarily a bad thing!).
One thing's for sure, with either of these sites you really can't go wrong - an experience you'll remember for all your life.