Hokkaido Steller’s Eagles

In Hokkaido, Images, Postcards From..., Travel by David15 Comments

These mornings with the Steller Eagles were painfully early. We pried ourselves off our futons in order to be out the door around 4:30am, dressed for temperatures that felt much colder than the actual -15C, and lugging our largest lenses. We drove down to the port, not sure if we’d even be heading out, knowing too much ice would keep us from leaving the harbour, and too little would mean the eagles would be too far out at sea. We spent three mornings out on the sea with these birds, forgetting the cold almost entirely as they began to fly in. It’s hard to express the awe I felt looking down through my 600mm lens at these majestic predators as they flew in for the fish thrown onto the ice. What light and motion can do to feathers is amazing, and I’m already planning my return to Hokkaido to spend time with Martin Bailey and these birds.



  1. Glorious shots of magnificent birds. Thank you. We have been up to Shiretoko, trekked on the ice floes, and taken some photographs. But you have just given me the best reason I will ever need to buy a 600 ml lens. The Owashi come here also, to the Atsubetsu River in Hidaka each winter, and I have had some success photographing them. But I feel very much the amateur when I see yours.

  2. Wow, you really captured how majestic and dynamic these birds are. I sure wish I could have been there with you enjoying the birds and sharing in the shivering. Love in particular your flying birds. Tom

  3. Stunning photos.
    How lucky to see these majestic eagles ‘in the wild’.

  4. David, were you using an actual 600 or a 300 w/ 2x teleconverter? Just curious, because if it’s just a 300, I wouldn’t feel quite so sorry about you lugging all that weight. lol

  5. They’re all beautiful but the second from the top and second from the bottom blow me away.
    The first one for the colors the second for the action…. I agree with Aaron, you are blessed!

  6. I’m an avid birder and a photography lover, so this part of your Japan trip had me seething with envy David! 🙂

    I’ve always wanted to see those Steller’s Sea Eagles but haven’t had the pleasure yet. Your photographs truly seem to capture the majesty those birds have. Thank you so much for sharing.

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