Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights


Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights


Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights


Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights


Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights


Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights


Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights

Japan in summer

Breeding endemics and the Eastern Palearctic delights

21st May - 6th June 2024

Leader: Chikara Otani and Martin Kennewell

Day 1:
Arrivals into Narita International Airport. For those arriving in the morning, we have afternoon birding at nearby Omigawa in search of Green Pheasant, Japanese Marsh Warbler and Japanese Reed Bunting, which breed in-and-around the remaining pockets of Phragmites. Other birds include Eurasian and Yellow Bittern, Eastern Marsh Harrier, japonica Eurasian Skylark and Oriental Reed Warbler. Night in Narita.  

Day 2:
Morning at Inbanuma and Omigawa for Green Pheasant, Japanese Marsh Warbler and Japanese Reed Bunting. Other birds include Eurasian and Yellow Bittern, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Japanese Skylark and Oriental Reed Warbler. Later drive to Mount Fuji for Japanese Accentor and Japanese Leaf Warbler. Other birds are Grey-bellied Bullfinch and Red-flanked Bluetail. Two night’s stay near Mount Fuji.

Day 3:
Full day around Mount Fuji, visiting both the base and the higher reaches of the mountain, towards the treeline. We search for a wealth of summer migrants including Northern Hawk Cuckoo, Siberian Thrush, Japanese Thrush, Brown-headed Thrush, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Narcissus Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, Eastern-crowned Leaf Warbler and, most importantly, Japanese Yellow Bunting. If time, we drive into the countryside for Chestnut-cheeked Starling and Japanese Grosbeak. Night near Mount Fuji.

Day 4:
Morning at Mount Fuji to catch up anything missed the day before. Later drive to Tokyo to catch a ferry to Miyake Island. Overnight on ferry.

Day 5:
Morning arrival to Miyake-jima. Our targets on this small island out of Tokyo is short on quantity but very high on quality - Japanese Wood Pigeon, Owston’s (Izu) Tit, Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, Styan’s Grasshopper Warbler, Izu Thrush and Izu Robin – the latter a split from Japanese Robin. Other birds include Japanese Cormorant, Lesser Cuckoo, Pacific Swift and Black-tailed Gull. Night on Miyake-jima.

Day 6:
Morning at Miyake-jima once again before catching the ferry back to Tokyo that departs at 1345. From the ferry we have a few seabird possibilities, including Streaked, Short-tailed, Sooty and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Bulwer’s Petrel, Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, Brown Booby and even Japanese Murrelet. Night near Haneda, Tokyo.

Day 7:
Fly to Ishigaki Island in the morning. Ishigaki and Iriomote, in the Southern Nansai-shoto islands, are closer to Taipei than to even Okinawa, and home to a number of resident and summer breeders, our targets here are Iriomote Tit, Ryukyu Green Pigeon, Ryukyu Serpent Eagle, Ryukyu Scops Owl, Ryukyu Minivet, Japanese Paradise-flycatcher, ‘Yaeyama Crow’ – a small-billed race of Large-billed, Ishigaki Tit (a very distinctive form of Japanese Tit) and Ryukyu (Owston’s) Flycatcher – the latter a recent split from Narcissus Flycatcher. Other birds include Cinnamon Bittern, Malayan Night Heron, Slaty-legged and Ruddy-breasted Crakes, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Northern Boobook and Ruddy Kingfisher – occasionally an over-summering Chinese Egret is present along the coastline. Night at Ishigaki for two nights.

Day 8:
Birding divided between Iriomote and Ishigaki-jima.

Day 9:
Early morning flight from Ishigaki-jima to Okinawa, and drive to the north side of the island from the island’s capital, Nara for afternoon birding. Hopefully we’ll have our first encounters with Okinawa Rail and Okinawa Woodpecker.. Two nights stay at northern Okinawa (Yambaru).

Day 10:
A full, and exciting day on Okinawa. Targets are the flightless Okinawa Rail, Ryukyu Scops Owl (northern form), Japanese Scops Owl (endemic race), Okinawa Woodpecker, Brown-eared Bulbul (genetically distinct central Ryukyu form), Japanese Bush Warbler and the boldly plumaged Okinawa Robin. Sometimes Mandarin Duck is also possible. Night at Yambaru, Okinawa.

Day 11:
Morning flight across to Amami. Depending on the flight time depends exactly on our birding plans, but it will certainly finish with us driving along the forests hill roads in search of Amami Woodcock, a species that is usually found (eventuall!) sat on the roadside, or even on the road! In addition, at night we could also come across the nocturnal Amami Black Rabbit and Habu – an impressive venomous snake, and Ryukyu Pit-viper and an array of cool frogs and toads! Night on Amami.

Day 12:
Full day birding on Amami. The targets are the difficult Amami Thrush, Amami (White-backed) Woodpecker, Lidth’s Jay and Ryukyu Robin. Also, we have chance for catch up with Ryukyu Green Pigeon, Japanese Wood Pigeon, Ryukyu Scops Owl (northern form), Northern Boobook, Ruddy Kingfisher, Ryukyu Minivet and Japanese Paradise-flycatcher. Once again at night, we go in search of Amami Woodcock. Night on Amami.

Day 13:
Morning flight to Tokyo and on to Kushiro, situated on the eastern side of Hokkaido. Night in Kushiro

Day 14:
Our first morning on Hokkaido will be spent in an area of forest close to Kushiro. Mainly summering migrants, with a few resident birds, where we hope to bump into Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Northern Hawk Cuckoo and Japanese Robin. An array of other, more widespread possibilities include Hazel Grouse, Japanese Pygmy, White-backed, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Mountain Hawk Eagle, ‘Brandt’s Jay’, White’s Thrush and Asian Brown, Blue-and-white and Narcissus Flycatchers. Sometimes Kamchatka Leaf Warbler is also possible. Later we drive to Kiritappu for a two-night stay at Kurimoto.

Day 15:
Full day birding around Kiritappu, northern Hokkaido. Targets are Latham’s Snipe, Lanceolated, Middendorff’s and Sakhalin Grasshopper Warblers. Other birds include Red-crowned Crane, White-tailed Eagle, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat, and Stejneger’s Stonechat. We also have chance to catch-up with some of the forest species once again.Depending on the weather, and our success, we may take the Ochiishi boat cruise for half a morning, we have a good chance for Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, Spectacled Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet and Tufted Puffin, while rarities in the past have included Horned Puffin and Ancient Murrelet.

Day 16:
We have a final mornings birding – where we visit depends on our previous two-days successes. Following lunch, we fly back to Tokyo on JL542, 1520/1700, for dinner and toast to what should have been a wonderful tour. Night near Haneda Airport, Tokyo.

Day 17:
Departures from Tokyo, either Narita or Haneda International Airports.

Please note: those that are keen to see Blakiston's Fish Owl, we will offer a single nights extension, remaining on Hokkaido on Day 16, returning to Tokyo the following day. As this is a bird many have already seen, or intending to see on a Japan in winter tour, we have made it optional.

Tour details

Cost: £ 5,725 or $ 7,100

Deposit: £ 500 or $ 700

Single room supplement:
£ 450 or $ 560

Maximum group size: 8

Tour cost includes: all accommodation, main meals, internal flights (as stated in itinerary x 6, and for the 'Japan Air Pass' special cost, which is using your international airline reservation code)), overland transport, entrance fees, drinking water, tips to local drivers and guides, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: International flights, travel insurance, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: comfortable twin-bed, and single rooms, most with private facilities.

Walking difficulty: generally easy throughout, with a lot of time scanning.
Elevation is no higher than 2,500m.

Expected number of species: 190 - 210 species.

Number of endemics and range-restricted species: This is a far more lifer-friendly tour than Japan in winter. A large number of endemics are found on the Nansei Shoto archipelago, along with a number of breeding endemics throughout the country not found in the winter.
On top of that, you get to experience Japan's culture in the beautiful palearctic summer.

Map of the tour

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