Photo by Miyagi Prefecture
Photo by Koji Nonaka
Every winter, swans, geese, and other migratory birds flock to Miyagi. Huge numbers of greater white-fronted geese, among others, fly south from as far away as Siberia to winter at lakes and marshes in Tome and Kurihara, wetlands protected under the Ramsar Convention. Izunuma is the largest of these, and is conveniently located just a short walk from Nitta Station. In summer, locals flock here for boat rides through the lake’s thousands of lotus flowers. But come winter, the lake is the domain of the birds and the handful of birdwatchers intrepid enough to brave the cold to observe the multitudes wintering here. Other good birdwatching lakes in the area include Naganuma and Uchinuma.
Most of the birds fly off at sunrise to feed in rice fields during the day, then return to the lakes at sundown for safety. Those who want to take in the spectacle of thousands of birds taking flight all at once should aim to arrive at one of those times. Midday, visitors can purchase bird feed at stands near Izunuma or Uchinuma to feed the ducks, geese, and swans lingering near shore looking for handouts. To purchase bird feed, look for the signs that say “エサ” (pronounced “esa“).