PAL­LAS’S ROSEFINCH

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

Search­ing for ‘tan­chos’ Our pri­mary goal was to spend time with an­other glob­ally threat­ened bird – one that epit­o­mises Ja­pan in win­ter. Red-crowned Cranes or tan­chos are block-painted with a min­i­mal­ist colour scheme of ivory, black and scar­let. Tan­chos walk loftily and stride grace­fully, rou­tinely bow­ing ser­pen­tine necks, much as Ja­panese peo­ple in­di­cate re­spect. When hor­mones rage, cranes leap into the air, trans­form­ing their wings into origami cre­ations. These tan­chos were the over­rid­ing rea­son for our trip. We saw 300 birds, in­clud­ing 100-strong groups at Tsu­rui and Akan – and they were just as sen­sa­tional as hoped. Our only re­gret was that weather con­di­tions con­spired against us en­joy­ing the spec­ta­cle of a frozen dawn over­look­ing the Kot­taro River: as light seeps in, dis­si­pat­ing river mist un­veils hun­dreds of roost­ing cranes. A rea­son to re­turn. From the tan­chos, we headed north. En route, we bumped into the soughtafter Pal­las’s Rosefinch and fear­less, shaggy-coated Red Foxes. Ar­riv­ing at Yoroushi Onsen shy of dusk, we took tea (quite some cer­e­mony!) and awaited the Blak­iston’s Fish Owls. Fol­low­ing their inim­itable spec­ta­cle and the en­su­ing ban­quet, we re­tired. Surely things could not get bet­ter. How wrong we were.

We saw 300 birds, in­clud­ing 100-strong groups at Tsu­rui and Akan – and they were just as sen­sa­tional as hoped Hooded Cranes form in huge flocks on Kyushu Hokkai­dos great birds are not just the big ones

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