A splendid morning at Lake Kussharo

A splendid morning at Lake Kussharo

Whooper Swan

I had a very fun week exploring Hokkaido over the Christmas holiday. While the weather did not cooperate fully for what I was looking for with the red crowned cranes, that gave me the opportunity to explore the rest of the island and engage with the other wildlife that hangs around for the winter.

I took a drive to the northern side of the island, drudging the 35 mph speed limit to Lake Kussharo which is the largest lake in Japan. There is a group of whooper swans that take advantage of the hot springs that prevents the water freezing which gives them guaranteed water to look for food. While driving along the lake, a saw a group of swans making their way up the lake and found a place to pull over. I walked through the woods to the shore up where the swans would be passing and sat down with my Nikon D5 and Nikkor 800mm.

Soon the swans came around the corner and made their way on the shore, starting to clean themselves and then sat down and fell sleep not a mere few feet from me. What an experience for 30 whooper swans which I haven’t had a chance to photograph before and have them come up this close. The downside was I had way too much glass so took the opportunity to take many headshots. Their yellow bills stood out in the diffuse sunlight. 

It is said that whooper swans bills and unique to the individual and that they mate for life. These unique bills is how swans recognize their mates. It was a great experience and will be on my list of stops when I go back.

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