Lake Toro, Onnenai Visitor Centre at Kushiro Wetland  塘路湖、釧路湿原

June 14th.

Takkobu Auto Camp

A good night at Takkobu Auto Camp. This is an excellent campsite with good cooking facilities but nothing fancy.
In the morning, when we emerge, we are virtually alone. All the other campers have left. The weather is still murky but not actually raining. A chill wind is blowing.
Early in the morning, the sky was alive with swallows and swifts. By the time we leave however only a few stray birds are still swooping about.

Takkobu campsite

Takkobu campsite

Over the speaker system comes an announcement that a bear has been sighted in some area. The police, local officials and hunters are searching for it. Please be careful. We have no idea how far or how near the area is or how, specifically, one is to be careful.

Lake Toro

We set off for some viewing point, that we don’t find and then go to Lake Toro or Toroko. Here we visit a sparse visitor centre, Toroko Eco Museum.

From there, during a short walk along the lakeside we disturb a White-Tailed Sea Eagle from its perch in the trees above us. It circles out over the lake and returns to a tree nearby. As I sidle closer trying to get in photo distance it takes flight again and disappears.

Heading back the other way, past the sparse Eco centre and a canoe rental place that is too pricey to temp us, we wander down to the lake shore through a small, deserted campsite.

There is a park official talking to someone by the water and, as we approach, a fox appears and trots by the 4 of us with supreme unconcern. We watch as this animal skirts the lake for a long distance before finally taking to the undergrowth.

Lake Toro

Lake Toro, with footprints of the fox.

Watching this fox, we miss the actual point when one of the two canoes out on the water capsizes. Hearing shouts, I realize that one of the canoes is virtually underwater. I immediately burst into action and snap a few photos.

Shipping Incident

Shipping Incident

We tell the park official, who had not noticed the incident, and he rushes off to watch, helplessly, from the water’s edge as the second canoe tows the stricken vessel and waterlogged crew towards the shore.

*Toroko Eco Museum ; free

Tsurui-mura

Leaving Lake Touro, we take a gravel road through Kottaro wetland to Tsurui-mura (Tsurui village) on the other side. As we jolt along in a cloud of our own dust, we meet yet another fox trotting along the track towards us. We stop and it keeps coming giving us a wary glance as it passes.

Kitakitsune

Kitakitsune, Kottaro wetland.

As we approach Tsuruimura, we spot a single and then a pair of Tsuru (Japanese Crane) in the fields far from the road. This area is full of these magnificent birds in winter, but a few remain all year and breed in the marshes.

Onnenai Visitor Centre

Our next stop is Onnenai Visitor Centre. This place has a walkway through the wetlands that provides an hour’s walk. We have been here before, on a hot, September afternoon and saw no wildlife at all, save two baby snakes stretched out in the sun.
Today, a bleak overcast day in June, the marsh is livelier. There are a few flowers, a lot of bog cotton or something similar and birdsong everywhere.

Onnenai Visitor Centre

Wetland, Onnenai Visitor Centre

 

Onnenai

Onnenai

Onnenai

Onnenai

Spotting birds, let alone identifying them, is more of a challenge. The brushwood and reeds make for seclusion. We do spot a marsh tit, male and female Stonechat and a couple of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and, off in the distance, a single deer.

Stonechat, Onnenai Visitor Centre

Stonechat, Onnenai Visitor Centre

We dawdle on this walk and it takes a good part of the afternoon. Then we go to Kushiro to buy food. The weather is not conducive to cooking outside so we abandon that plan and make do with the usual supermarket fare. Takkobu campsite is busier when we return, it being a Friday night but, even so, there are barely a dozen people all told.
There is a thin, persistent drizzle and by 9pm all have retreated into cabins or tents as I write this. We, of course, are snug in the van.

*Onnenai Visitor Centre ; free (Tue. closed except in the summer)

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