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Lake Tofutsu in Abashiri welcomes whooper swans, a migratory bird

Various migratory birds stop at Lake Tofutsu in Abashiri to rest their wings, pass the winter, or to breed. Whooper swans, one of such birds, migrates from the south where they spent the winter and stop to Lake Tofutsu from early March to April. Countless whooper swans rest their wings at this beautiful lake. Why don’t you visit Lake Tofutsu to see them?​

網走の濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センター付近の白鳥と斜里岳▲(Photo provided by Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center) ​

Whooper swans visit Lake Tofutsu

Lake Tofutsu is a lake in extends from Abashiri City and Koshimizu Town. Lake Tofutsu is a brackish lake with 27 kilometers circumference and 1-meter average water depth. 

The wetland is a wildlife sanctuary and a wetland under the Ramsar Convention. 

Various migratory birds stop here seasonally such as ducks and steller’s sea eagle. Among them, whooper swans come here from autumn to spring. 

The number of whooper swans, which leaves to the north, comes at its peak from mid-April to late April. ​

網走の濤沸湖に飛来したオオハクチョウ▲(Photo provided by Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center)

The spring in Okhotsk is still cold, but you don’t have to worry. You can watch whooper swans from the exhibition space of Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center.​

濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センターの展示スペース▲There is a telescope in front of the big window to get the view of whooper swans in Lake Tofutsu. You can also get the view of Mt. Shari! ​

濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センターの望遠鏡で白鳥を観賞▲I could see the whooper swans so closely that I felt like I can touch them if I stretched my arms. 

When the temperature rises and ice around the shore melt, whooper swans come very close to people. 

The size of whooper swans are about 140 cm to 160 cm, so when you take a close look at them, for example watching them from the deck outside, you shall be surprised at its size! It seemed like a baby can ride on swans.​

網走の濤沸湖に飛来したオオハクチョウ▲(Photo provided by Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center)

By the way, whooper swans come from north start stopping at Lake Tofutsu from early October, and the number comes to its peak in mid-November. The staff counted about 600 swans in 2016. The number gets over 1,000 depending on the year. 

I noticed around 50 whooper swans resting on the icy lake when we covered. (end of February) Are they not going to move? ​

結氷する濤沸湖の上で休んでいるオオハクチョウ▲Above is the whooper swans. They look extremely cute with their neck folded! 

In fact, swans can be seen from December to March are “settlers”. “Those swans which judged that they could pass the winter stay. When the lake gets frozen, they move to ocean and river where it’s not frozen.” The manager of the center Hosokawa told us. 

I just remembered that I saw some whooper swans on drift ice the day before. I discovered that there are various types of whooper swans. ​

オホーツク海の流氷の上にいる白鳥▲Whooper swans on drift ice at the Sea of Okhotsk.​


Watching the video about the nature of Lake Tofutsu is recommended!

By the way, as Lake Tofutsu get various migratory birds, Lake Tofutsu has plenty of food. This beautiful environment has various flowers in wetlands around the lake from spring to autumn, and we can catch Japanese pond smelt and lake prawn. 

“Not all people can visit casually to the shore on the other side of Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center because it is a farm land (private property). This is another reason that the natural environment in this area is protected.” Hosokawa said. 

You can learn about the nature of Lake Tofutsu from the exhibition “Learning the relationship between the environment and life” at Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center. ​

濤沸湖・水鳥設置センターの展示の様子▲Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center’s exhibitions. ​

濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センターのライブカメラ▲There was also the exhibit to watch outside with a live camera. By moving the lever in front of the screen, you can control the camera. 

Of all the exhibition, I recommend watching the video called “The Cradle of Life” (Inochi No Yurikago)! You can see the beautiful scenery of different seasons in Lake Tofutsu. ​

濤沸湖・水鳥設置センターでPR映像を見ている▲The video is about 13 minutes but it was amazingly beautiful, and I forgot the time. 

Enjoy the moment to experience the attractions of nature and wild birds. ​

網走の濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センターの外観▲Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center (Photo provided by Lake Tofutsu Wetland Center)
  • Lake Tofutsu in Abashiri welcomes whooper swans, a migratory bird

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Fumiko Magota