The Ultimate In Birding Tours

NEW: Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands & Iriomote special expedition June 2023

December 30, 2022

by Mark Beaman

In June 2023, Inger and I are going to be visiting the Bonin (or Ogasawara) Islands after the Birdquest 2023 Japan Specialities tour. As usually happens, the trip to the Bonins does not dovetail neatly with the tour itself as the ferries to the remote Bonins are so infrequent and in particular trips that allow a stay of more than one night in the Bonins (which is far too short to see the islands’ specialities). The Bonins trip starts in Tokyo on the morning of 10 June 2023 and ends back at Tokyo on the afternoon of 15 June.

It is a rare day that one has the chance to go to the very remote, subtropical Bonin Islands more than 1000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Tokyo and the 24-hour ferry journey provides a high chance to see some great seabirds including Bonin, White-necked and Bulwer’s Petrels, Bannerman’s Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater of the interesting pale morph (perhaps a separate species), hordes of Streaked Shearwaters, Matsudaira’s and Tristram’s Storm Petrels, and Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses. The Critically Endangered Bryan’s Shearwater is also possible, as are Short-tailed Albatross and Japanese Murrelet.

There will be 3 nights spent in the Bonins (two on the outlying island of Hahajima and one on Chichijima) before the return ferry from the main island of Chichijima, which is plenty of time to find the endemic Bonin White-eye (the only Palearctic white-eye) and endemic Bonin Greenfinch as well as the Bonin forms of more widespread species that could be split (for example the local forms of the Japanese Bush Warbler and Brown-eared Bulbul and the Critically Endangered Bonin form of the Japanese Wood Pigeon). Seawatching could even turn up Bryan’s Shearwater, which is now reduced to a small number of individuals. There is also the endemic Bonin Flying Fox.

Afterwards, we are heading down to Ishigaki and Iriomote Islands in the southernmost Ryukyu Islands in search of the endemic Iriomote Tit. In addition, there are the endemic Ryukyu Serpent Eagle and Ishigaki Tit, already recognized as distinct species by some taxonomic authorities. More widespread Ryukyu specialities include Ryukyu Scops Owl. We will also be looking for the endemic Iriomote Cat, which is not that hard to see if you put in the time on Iriomote. Return to Tokyo (Haneda) airport is on the evening of 19 June.

More detail about the Bonins, Ishigaki and Iriomote can be found under our Japan Specialities tour description:

We will be happy to be joined by some Birdquesters who fancy participating in this unusual expedition.

The cost of the 6 days trip to the Bonins will be $2250 (approximately £1800 or €2050) per person sharing. The ferry fare to the Bonins and back is, like so many things in Japan, very expensive if you take a private cabin (anyone willing to sleep in a dormitory in each direction would get a significant reduction). Single accommodation both on the ferry and ashore is available for a supplement of $280 (approximately £230 or €260). If you would like to take the extension to Ishigaki and Iriomote the cost will be $1150 (approximately £920 or €1050) for the 4 days trip, plus the return airfare from Tokyo. Single supplement $180 (approximately £150 or €170).

There will also be an option to go and look for the rare Japanese Night Heron in Honshu.

If you are interested in participating in this ‘one off’ expedition to see some of the Palearctic region’s least often observed birds, please contact Mark Beaman at

This expedition is a guaranteed departure.