Spirit of Steller’s Sea Eagles of Hokkaido

Steller's Sea Eagle Hokkaido

At some time or another, I think everyone has wondered what it would be like to fly…to soar above our world and look down upon the chaos below with detachment. Our natural senses exhilarated and overwhelmed as we glide on the breeze, stretching out for our destination horizon.

The pure pursuit of freedom on the winds.

White-Tailed Eagle Hokkaido

Perhaps an experience a bit like Jonathan Livingston Seagull…and as with Jonathan and the world in general, there would be avian politics to deal with, pressures of life perhaps no different from what we experience daily and hardships that create the challenges of life.

But just to be able to soar, to get a taste of that purity…I like the thought.

White-Tailed Eagle Hokkaido

Our natural senses exhilarated and overwhelmed…a bit like a good dose of the spirit of the holiday season.  Take away the commercialism, rush of shopping and mass of people, and what is left are people in a great state of happiness and joy.

Ice-Pack Shiretoko Peninsula

People feel better about life, about others.  There are sincere displays of gratitude and perhaps most importantly, compassion.  The holiday season, whether Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa or another, each contain the key component that makes a holiday special: compassion.

Steller's Sea Eagle Hokkaido

Compassion can touch another soul like nothing else, it can be the greatest gift of all.  Malcolm Greenhill wrote a poignant post on his blog (Malcolm’s Corner)about this the other day, how a small gesture of compassion from one person can impact another greatly.

Waves of Shiretoko Peninsula - Rausu town

A simple and powerful gift is compassion.  Easier to give this time of year because of our spirit, yet to make it a habit and show compassion throughout the year and it becomes easy to imagine that we will all be flying as high as these eagles.

White-Tailed Sea Eagle Hokkaido

I wish to be more compassionate moving forward.  I have been touch by others, likely without their knowing the impact of their kindness.  How wonderful it would be for me to do the same for others, consistently, throughout the year.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Steller's Sea Eagle Gliding in Hokkaido

Note:  these photos were taken in a small coastal fishing town (pop. 6,200) of Rausu, the most northeasterly town in Japan, and gateway to the Shiretoko Peninsula. During the winter season, pack ice, which drifts down from the Sea of Okhotsk becomes the home to Steller’s Sea Eagles and White-tailed Sea Eagles who hunt for fish and put on a show.

Some of the best Japanese food I have ever tasted, fresh and crisp and where every night ends with a little sake and settling into one of the many natural hot springs in the area.  Hokkaido is definitely a winter-wonderland.

Steller's Sea Eagle Hokkaido

Steller's Sea Eagle Hokkaido

81 Comments on “Spirit of Steller’s Sea Eagles of Hokkaido

  1. Hi! Of course I’ve wondered how it would be to soar like a bird. What amazingly beautiful pictures, and how lucky to enjoy visiting Rausu (and enjoying the food there! 😉 ). Merry Christmas xx

    • Hi Sofia, thank you and wish you the very best. Traveling with my sister this holiday season, and it has been wonderful so far…nice to get away from everything (internet use very sporadic ~ which in retrospect is great!). Cheers to you!

      • I wish you both a wonderful time Randy! My brother lives in Australia and I wish I could see him these days. By the way, he loves the wilderness and making photos so I sent him your blog the other day. I hope he’s had a bit of a look.. Cheers

  2. Beautiful — thank you for the amazing pics, for the thoughts, for the thrill of vicarious flight through these marvelous creatures!!! They represent the aviator in all of us. Merry Christmas from Hawaii!!

    • Thanks, and best wishes for you and your family during the many holidays this season brings. Cheers!

  3. What a wonderful message! And so fitting with all the warmth of the holidays.
    Stunning photos like everytime, Randy!
    Happy Holidays! 🙂

  4. I long to fly in the sky, soar above higher than all the people above me, wind whipping in my face. During festive periods, I see so many of us so intent on craning our necks, trying to find a suitable gift for the people we love, queuing up to pay…Christmas shopping they call it. I was purposely walking slowly in the city today, enjoying my day off and I saw so many people do just these things – they all look so harried and frazzled that I think many forget what love and compassion really is. Sometimes it just doesn’t hurt to take things slowly 🙂 Beautiful post once again, and have a great holiday!

    • Hi Mabel, yes you say it best ~ being able to just kind of soar around, taking our time to enjoy what is really out there for us. WIsh you the best in ’14. Take care.

  5. Those eagles are so beautiful. I recently finished a remarkable book by J.A. Baker called ‘The Peregrine’. It is one of the best pieces of nature writing I have read but it is remarkable because he tries to see the world as the Peregrine Falcon sees it. Well worth reading:

  6. I don’t know how I managed to miss this one until this morning, and Merry Xmas Randy 🙂

    These photographs leave me breathless! It’s the clarity it represents, seeing life as simple as it ought to be, I think.
    I do believe the holidays does bring out the best in most, I think it has to do with each person identifying one of the most factual constants in human life…that we soon leave this place, come what may.

    The human spirit aligns with warmth in times when fear or sorrow threatens to consume it.Times as these, we each see how vulnerable we all really are and these acknowledgements are endearing in each and everyone of us. As you say Randy, it would be so lovely if we could allow the spirit to linger…be nice and caring all through our daily lives,but sadly…..

    Oh, let me not be a damper to the joy at hand, I too have flown and soared like these majestic creatures you have captured so magnificently 🙂 I lost myself completely in these photos.

    • Thanks Dotta, nothing like seeing something in full flight. Best to you with your new novel Adaora! Looks to be a fantastic read. Cheers to ’14.

  7. Merry Christmas indeed – or, well, now happy new year. Beautiful words, these, and blessing is compassion.
    Absolutely STUNNING photos. Stunning. That one of the ocean.. just wow. I used to imagine I could fly, but also imagined I could be a mermaid and try and train my breath to last longer and longer. Sigh, those were the days! 🙂

    • Blessing in compassion, wonderful words Noleen. Never give up on the wish to be a mermaid, as you never know 🙂 Wish you had a great holiday season…and the best going into ’14.

  8. Incredibly beautiful, Randall. you have captured the spirit of the birds and the landscape. Best wishes for the new year!

  9. These photos are absolutely astounding Randall. You have really captured the spirit of the birds as they soar so beautifully. And your scenery shot puts them into perspective perfectly. Wonderful post, and Happy New Year to you. May we all find ways to soar in 2014.

    • Thank you Tina! These eagles were amazing to watch, couldn’t help but think how they felt soaring around in freedom. Wish you a great ’14 and Happy New Year.

  10. Amazing pictures! I’ve never been to Hokkaido in the winter but your photos make me really want to go!

    • Winter in Hokkaido is amazing. Pure white, deep snow along with great wildlife, but the best thing are the small B&B’s and the incredible food/hot springs to end the day.

  11. Such amazing photos, even though I have seen so many from that place, this stand out! Great job, Happy new year, Ron.

    • Thanks David, still gotta download some pics…hope to post after Chinese New Year (first time I will celebrate CNY in the States!). Safe travels!

  12. The expressions are incredible!!! In the shamanic tradition I studied, Eagle helps us see the bigger picture, the collective spirit and our place in the collective spirit. Eagle eye can see into the past and the future, it helps us know where we come and who we are becoming. The Eagle you captured propelled you into your destiny 🙂 xox

    • 🙂 Knew the eagle was special, and like the shamanic traditional view you mention, very cool.

  13. Reading and looking at these pictures, a question arises… are you buddhist?
    …compassion can touch another soul like nothing else…. it sound so much the sentences our spiritual master says…
    have a lovely week end 🙂 claudine

    • Thank you Claudine, I think in everyone’s heart, there is a Daoist / Buddhist nature that appreciates all that nature & life offers, although it can be difficult to come out when whirling around in today’s world. Wish you a great weekend!

  14. Wow!
    aint you super?!
    With your photos, you paint words in our hearts and make us wander in the land of wonder. I can’t say nothing cos only the pictures alone are a marvelous take from your talented hands.
    Keep it coming!
    good job!!

    • You have a great way with words…both within your blog and with your comments! “Make us wander in the land of wonder.” That is poetry!

  15. Great execution capturing these birds in action and these beautiful pictures.

    Yes, for some reason in us that we associate the act of flying (self performed) with freedom. I also like your thought on compassion. Its sweetness benefits not just us but others who receives it. Yes, I also wish it takes root with me too.

    • Isn’t it this wonderful, universal feeling people have with flight? Freedom, and I think the peacefulness of nature & being up in the air makes us appreciate forgiveness and thus compassion. Thank you!

  16. I can’t help but sigh in awe each time I view this. Beautiful.
    Hope to see your photos in National Geographic – I’d buy multiple copies 😀
    It’s always a pleasure (and immense learning experience) to visit & re-visit your site.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    – Takami

    • Thank you so much Takami, I think I would very much like to re-visit Hokkaido and shoot these all over again. Wish you a great weekend as well. We can keep chasing the Nat Geo dreams 🙂

    • I used a Canon 7D for the majority of all wildlife shots (fast shutter speed, and versus my old 1st generation 5D, it has I think a 61-point AF which made for better # of crisp shots).

    • Thank you ~ such an amazing place by itself, but when those sea eagles came in it was as if we were soaring along & above the ice with them. Cheers to a great summer!

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