Hokkaido – Pre Trip

A few of us from NPSS will be on a 9-day trip to Hokkaido today for birding. All except me will be with spouse for the trip. Tina had to pull out from the trip the last minute due to work commitments and kids’ PSLE preparation. This trip is made possible with generous help from Yamane san in booking the hotels and planning for the trip.

We will be on ANA flight to Haneda Airport, a new airport at Tokyo that I have not been, and transfer to a domestic flight to Nakashibetsu. This will definitely be an interesting trip for me. Since I taken up Nature Photography 3 or 4 years ago, places that I travelled to for photography are usually nice and warm, the coldest for me was the recent trip to Nepal but that was about 10 degree Celsius. At Hokkaido, we are expecting -10 degree C or even colder without any wind chill factor. This really reminds me of my school days at Buffalo.

I have started to prepare for the trip many months ago, stocking up winter clothing, boots, heat pack, etc. Tina and I have visited all the known outdoor gears shops in Singapore and also have bought many items from China and the US. I managed to get my snow boots, which is difficult to find in tropical Singapore, in a business trip to the US in December. With so much winter gears in the luggage, my luggage weight is at about 24kg. Hopefully I will not run into any issue with the check-in counter. My main worry is actually the carry on. My GuraGear camera bag which has all my equipment is at about 16kg and I have another bag for jackets and my MacBook. Hand carrying camera equipment is always a concern on flight.

The main objective of this trip is to photograph winter birds. There are 2 main species on the targeted list – Red-crowned Crane, White-tailed Eagle and Blakiston’s Fish Owl. The first two are almost guaranteed, but the endangered Blakiston’s Fish Owl will need some luck and tips. Of course, other than these 3 species, I would also like to photograph the Whooper Swan, red fox, deer, etc. Winterscape is also high on my list, which will be interesting. Unfortunately, when we are there it will be full moon (15th day of Chinese Lunar |New Year), startrails will be very difficult with bright moon.

I have selected the following cameras and gears for the trip:

  • 1D MK IV
  • 5DMK II
  • 7D
  • 500mm f/4 IS
  • 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II
  • 24-70mm f/2.8
  • 16-35mm f/2.8 II
  • 1.4xTC & 2XTC

I will try to update whenever possible and hope to keep tab on the daily activities at Hokkaido.

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