Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Blakiston's Fish Owl nights x2

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.


  1. That's a cracking looking bird Rich and nice images to.

  2. Great images. Could I get some advice on lenses please? Would a 300mm be too much for a full portrait at Youroushi -onsen? Would a 300mm be sufficient for washinoyado? I have a 300mm 2.8 and a 400mm f4. Bearing in mind that the owls are taken at low light, I would be inclined to use the 300mm lens not sure if the focal length is sufficient for Washinoyado. Will be using a full frame camera. Btw, are we allowed to stay out at youroushiOnsen to wait for the owls or is it common etiquette to wait in the room? Thank you.