Daybreak, temperature about minus 15 Celsius, wearing almost every piece of clothing I had and still shivering! The cranes were standing in the shallows of a river, the first light of the day combined with sub freezing temperature created a misty, ethereal atmosphere. It was worth the numb fingers and toes. :-)
These are the Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis), or Japanese crane, one of the largest of the world's crane species and a key reason for the wildlife/nature photographer to visit Hokkaido during the bitterly cold Northern Japan winter.
The species is now rare with an estimated 2,750 in the wild, some in Siberia, Mongolia and the Koreas where they are migratory in habit, the 1,000 or so birds in Japan are considered to be a "resident" population. So small are the numbers, that the species was declared "endangered" in, 1970 and retains that status to the present.
Photographing Red-crowned cranes
The cranes pictured here were part of a flock of about 50-60 birds most of which were closer to camera. I chose in this instance to direct my lens to the distant part of the scene so as to isolate the three birds in the context of the environment. The long telephoto lens (in this case the 500mm F4.0 with 1.4 tele-converter) was essential. The image is shown here full frame with only minor adjustments in post processing. ~KD
Cranes in the mist, Hokkaido, Japan