Sequoia Audubon Society
San Mateo County, California

Meeting Programs

September 13, 2018
"Winter Birding in Japan"
Speaker: Alvaro Jaramillo

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Japan is a large archipelago that stretches for a wide latitudinal gradient offshore from China, the Koreas and Russia. It is largely a mountainous country, with a chain of volcanoes and mountains that create a spine to the main islands. Japan reaches from sea level to over 12,000 feet at the top of Mt. Fuji, perhaps one of the world's most beautiful volcanoes. It is a gorgeous and unique country to visit, not only for the scenery, but the distinctive food and culture. Japan is a country that has shaped the world, one of the great civilizations of our planet.

Polar Bear, Churchill, Canada
Blakiston's Fish-Owl, illustration by J G Keulemans (1884, Public Domain)

But in Japan there is another side that one usually does not contemplate, and this is its natural world. If one word had to sum it up, it would be spectacle! Picture thousands upon thousands of Hooded and White-naped Cranes, rivaling the well-known version of this in the United States, at Bosque del Apache or along the Platte River. But in Japan there are various species of cranes. Farther north one can see the rare and beautiful Red-crowned Cranes, often dancing in the mist coming off the ice! Truly spectacular. Add to this the chance of seeing some rarer crane species and you get the idea that it is a very special place for these large, memorable and often endangered species of bird.

Also picture the spectacle of the largest fish eagle in the world, the Steller's Sea Eagle, and in numbers! This is without a doubt one you would include in the top five most impressive raptors on earth, with its huge beak, wonderful coloration, and that odd diamond shaped tail. They come to the northern island of Hokkaido, and not only that they are surrounded by many White-tailed Sea Eagles. If you have seen those amazing photos of sea eagles, with a snowy background, they were taken here in the Japanese winter. Can you imagine that you can end a day here watching these eagles and then see the night shift? The largest owl in the world can show up if you are lucky (see image). In addition to the spectacle, are all of the smaller or lesser known birds of Japan, from Japanese Murrelets and Spectacled Guillemots, to a wide assortment of pretty waterfowl, buntings, Green Pheasant, and of course the myriad of wintering gulls.

This presentation will give you a sampling of Japan's winter wonderland for birds!

Alvaro Jaramillo, Sequoia Audubon's consulting biologist, runs Alvaro's Adventures, featuring international excursions as well as numerous pelagic trips out of Half Moon Bay. He also works with San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. His ornithological range is evident in his publications, spanning The Birds of California (ABA Guide), Birds of Chile, and New World Blackbirds: The Icterids.

Reminder: there are no meetings/programs in July and August. 


note The programs for additional meetings will be posted when available. (Topics subject to change.)

2018 S.A.S.