Our stay in Kyushu was at an end.
The scenery had been beautiful, the weather atrocious. Our leaders, Mark Brazil and Mineko Dohata, by being flexible with the timetable, had done a sterling job of providing the best experience available in the prevailing conditions.
A degree of cohesion was emerging within the group. We had been trained to extract our own lunches from Japanese convenience stores with the minimum of wasted time. This was a great adventure since none of us could read the labels! Amidst the dazzling array of multi-coloured shelves Mineko-san flew around keeping meat products out of vegetarian shopping baskets and wheat away from the gluten intolerant. Taking pot luck with the soft drinks gave some very interesting results. But chocolate is chocolate anywhere, the ideal lunch.
The crane centre at Arasaki was a highlight for McGee the birder but a dismal failure for McGee the photographer. From the ground, fencing and distance gave poor results, from the roof the angle was poor. Seventeen thousand cloacae and 34,000 feet plus rain had made a mess of the background and the rotten light made the flight shots grainy. The surrounding fields would have been a better option but for the rain running down your neck.
But it is what it is, and everything seemed so much better in the onsen which had quickly become a daily ritual.
Time had come to fly north. The hotel staff turned out to wave us on our way. They stood in the rain, bowing and waving by turns until the bus was out of sight.