Okhotsk Chapter
of the Wild Bird Society of Japan

2018 Excursions in the Sea of Okhotsk

Seabirding Excursion I :  8 April 2018, 8:45 a.m. ~

About 10 of us gathered behind the Michinoeki in Abashiri where the Chipashiri was docked, waiting to take us out to sea for our first seabirding cruise of the season. Kawasaki-san, head of the Okhotsk Chapter of the Wild Bird Society of Japan, chartered the boat, operated by Captain Maeda, before the season of scheduled cruises start on April 20. Drift ice lingered longer than usual this year, but by early April it had unfortunately gone. Weather was sunny and not too cold or windy when we left at about 8:45 a.m. Visibility was not great because we could not see the Shiretoko mountains, but it was nice to be out on the water again, very refreshing after the long winter. A young White-tailed sea-eagle (Ojiro-washi) stood on a concrete piling and watched as we headed out of the harbor. The high point of our 5-hour trip was the many Baird's beaked whales (Tsuchi-kujira) that we saw at various locations during the middle of the cruise. There was also a large number of Thick-billed murres and gulls of various kinds. It was still 2-3 weeks too early to see any Short-tailed shearwaters ("Muttonbirds" from Australia), which come in huge numbers when they do turn up. (The report of 15 April 2014 shows some scenes of remaining drift ice during a cruise, one of the highlights of my life in this part of the world, and a report on the shearwaters will hopefully be forthcoming.) [photos by DB]

Hashibuto-garasu group Utou
A group of Thick-billed murres (Hashibuto-umigarasu). There were very many of these birds today. Rhinoceros auklet (Utou). Often seen in pairs or small groups.
I wanted to think this was a Common murre (Umigarasu), but the dark area behind the eye that is thicker than usual led me to question it. Kawasaki-san thinks it is a Thick-billed murre due to the shape of its bill, etc. I tend to agree despite the white... Baird's beaked whale (Tsuchi-kujira). There were several groups of 5-10 each, a total of about 25 in all. Lots of activity.

Today's list [from the Okhotsk Chapter website; includes birds observed in the harbor]: Gadwall (Okayoshi-gamo), Eurasian wigeon (Hidori-gamo), Greater scaup (Suzu-gamo), Harlequin duck (Shinori-gamo), Common goldeneye (Hoojiro-gamo), Red-breasted merganser (Uni-aisa), Black-throated loon (Oohamu), Shearwater sp (Mizunagidori sp), Pelagic cormorant (Hime-u), Great cormorant (Kawa-u), Kittiwake (Mitsuyubi-kamome), Black-headed gull (Yuri-kamome), Mew gull (Kamome), Black-tailed gull (Umineko), Glaucous gull (Shiro-kamome), Herring gull (Seguro-kamome), Slaty-backed gull (Oo-seguro-kamome), Thick-billed murre (Hashibuto-umigarasu), Common murre (Umigarasu), Crested auklet (Etorofu-umisuzume), Rhinocerous auklet (Utou), Black kite (Tobi), White-tailed sea-eagle (Ojiro-washi), Carrion crow (Hashiboso-garasu). Marine mammal: Baird's beaked whale (Tsuchi-kujira).

Information about Abashiri Nature Cruises can be found on their webpage (part of the Abashiri City Travel Site).

Many thanks to Captain Maeda of the Chipashiri and to the Abashiri Tourism Association for making these cruises possible again this season!

  Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
Land     5 20, 30 7 3
Sea 5, 8, 15, 19 23, 26, 27 23 1 7 10, 31 14

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