(Listen to the recording on SoundCloud.)
A well-maintained leisure space runs along the left bank of Yasugawa (野洲川) for about four kilometers in Ritto City and Moriyama City. It begins as a narrow space a few hundred meters upstream from the Japan Route 8 bridge, Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and ends near a dam in Moriyama City.
Ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City
Many years ago this narrow space overgrown with wild vegetation. Then it became a golf putting course. A large open space just upstream became a ground gold course a few years ago, and last year the putting course was also converted to ground golf. Many older people play ground golf, and every day quite a few people of all ages walk, run, or cycle along the path between the ground gold course and the riverbank.
The riverbed near the camera position in the photo below used to be dry most of the year. There was a bamboo woods, and vegetation covered a large open space. After the government bulldozed the bamboo trees a few years ago, the river changed its course and ran along the embankment for about 250 meters. A large area of topsoil and vegetation was lost. Fortunately, a few trees and bushes remain.
Yasugawa riverbank, Yasugawa Ohashi, and Hira mountain range seen from Deba, Ritto City
Quite a few species of birds come to these bushes and trees. While I was there on January 31st, I saw several birds, along with several dusky thrushes and a couple of wagtails.
Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides cioide, ホオジロ) male in Deba, Ritto City
I think this is a long-tail rosefinch. I could see a long tail in a video that I recorded; however, I am not certain. This was only the second time I’d seen a rosefinch, and this one never came out from the vegetation while I was watching.
Long-tailed Rosefinch (Carpodacus roseus, ベニマシコ) [?] in Deba, Ritto City
I’ve seen this daurian redstart female many time this winter. Usually she darts around on low branches in thick vegetation, but recently she has been spending more time in the open along the riverbed. When I walk through this area, I often pause and wait for her to appear.
Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along the path near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City
As we can hear in the recording, Sunday traffic is pretty noisy. This is not a quiet place, but at least it has not been covered in concrete. Local communities have developed riverside spaces for recreation, and they have tried to preserve natural habitats along the riverbed. In the 35 years that I’ve lived here, I think local people have been doing a pretty job of balancing the needs of humans and wildlife.