Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstarts (ジョウビタキ)

In late fall and winter many beautiful small birds migrate to Shiga Prefecture in Japan. One of the most colorful species is the Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus), in Japanese, jōbitaki (ジョウビタキ).

Breeding males are easy to spot: orange chest and lower back, black upper back, head, and neck, grey crown and nape, and very dark brown wings with large white patches. They often perch out in the open, which makes them easy to photograph.

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Redstarts are sexually dimorphic. Females are not so colorful. They’re brown above, lighter below, with an orange rump and back-and-orange tail. They’re inconspicuous except in flight. Sometimes they appear in the open, but they tend to stay in or near trees and bushes.

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at a small playground in Ohata, Yasu City

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at a small playground in Ohata, Yasu City

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstarts seem to be very territorial and easy to spot if you known where to look. I often see a male in a neighbor’s garden, several males and females along the river in Ritto and Moriyama, a male in the Omifuji Botanical Gardens, and a female in a little playground near the JR train tracks in Yasu City. It is always a pleasure to see such beautiful creatures so close to home.

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow scenes

Ritto City in southern Shiga Prefecture, Japan, was covered with snow for a few days in January, 2017.

January 15th

On January 15th heavy snow covered Takano Park near my home.

Snow at Takano Shrine in Ritto City on January 15, 2017

Snow at Takano Shrine in Ritto City on January 15, 2017

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

As usual on Sunday, local children were playing at Takano Park. They seemed delighted by the rare chance to play in a snowstorm.

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

January 16th

On January 16th more snow was followed by patches of blue sky.

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus, スズメ) in a snow-covered field in Hayashi, Ritto City

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus, スズメ) in a snow-covered field in Hayashi, Ritto City

Tree at the end of the ground golf course in Deba, RItto City, during a snow storm

Tree at the end of the ground golf course in Deba, RItto City, during a snow storm

Two spring riders near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City, with Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Two spring riders near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City, with Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City, with Mikamiyama in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City, with Mikamiyama in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City

Pink rose in Tsuji, Ritto City

Pink rose in Tsuji, Ritto City

January 24th

We had a bit more snow on January 24th. By noon it was melting.

Snow-covered fields in Hayashi, Ritto City

Snow-covered fields in Hayashi, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, RItto City

Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, RItto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) seen from Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) seen from Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, RItto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) seen from the woods at Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) seen from the woods at Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, RItto City

Yasugawa Sports Park on a winter afternoon

Yasugawa Sports Park on a winter afternoon

Appreciating wider angles

This January a few days of snow reminded me to appreciate a wider view of the environment. Most of my photographs have been portraits of birds or closeups of bugs or flowers. I enjoy watching living creatures up close through a telephoto lens, but I don’t want to become too absorbed in such a narrow view of life. I think it’s wise to also see and photograph the world from a broader and more natural perspective.

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

January birds

In January, 2017, I took hundreds of photographs of birds near my home in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Here are a few of them.

More photos are on Flickr. Quality varies!

Selected photos are on 500px.

Eurasian tree sparrows (スズメ) in a field south of Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Eurasian tree sparrows (スズメ) in a field south of Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus, スズメ) in Takano, Ritto City

Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus, スズメ) in Takano, Ritto City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) in Takano, Ritto City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) in Takano, Ritto City

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Varied tit (Parus varius, ヤマガラ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Varied tit (Parus varius, ヤマガラ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni, ビンズイ) in Yasugawa Sports Park woods

Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni, ビンズイ) in Yasugawa Sports Park woods

Oriental turtle-doves (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Oriental turtle-doves (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Oriental turtle-dove (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Takano Park in Ritto City

Oriental turtle-dove (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Takano Park in Ritto City

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla, アトリ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla, アトリ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ)  eating persimmons in Tsuji, Ritto City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) eating persimmons in Tsuji, Ritto City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) in Factory Park near the Kibogaokaguchi intersection in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) in Factory Park near the Kibogaokaguchi intersection in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Pale thrush (Turdus pallidus, シロハラ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Pale thrush (Turdus pallidus, シロハラ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Scaly thrush [Amami thrush] (Zoothera dauma, トラツグミ) in the woods along Yasugawa between the soccer ground and the parking lot near the backetball court in Moriyama

Scaly thrush [Amami thrush] (Zoothera dauma, トラツグミ) in the woods along Yasugawa between the soccer ground and the parking lot near the backetball court in Moriyama

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Black-faced bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) on the gravel road to Takano Shrine in Ritto City

Black-faced bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) on the gravel road to Takano Shrine in Ritto City

White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ) at Takano Park in Ritto City

White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ) at Takano Park in Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Crow (カラス) in a tree along Yasugawa in Moriyama

Crow (カラス) in a tree along Yasugawa in Moriyama

Common kingfisher (カワセミ, 川蝉) female at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Common kingfisher (カワセミ, 川蝉) female at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ) in a camellia tree at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ) in a camellia tree at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki,  コゲラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

I’m looking forward exploring Shiga Prefecture and seeing more birds in February.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park

Just before noon on January 7, 2017, I made a field recording in a large park along Yasugawa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan (野洲川立入河川公園). The recording was made with a small Sony PCM-M10 digital recorder mounted on a tripod near the lower end of the park. I chose this location in order to reduce traffic and train noises from bridges upstream, as well as the rumble of water at a dam downstream. I pointed the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama.

We can hear the rumble of a nearby dam, traffic, crows, and kids playing in the distance. These sounds are overwhelmed by a recorded public address message broadcast from speakers on a small building on the embankment above the park. The recorded message asks people to obey park rules: no golf, RC cars or aircraft, fireworks, unleashed dogs, fires, littering, or other activities that may disturb people. The same loud recorded message dominates the sonic environment of the park once every hour.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking with the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking with the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

I often visit this park to look for birds. Egrets, herons, cormorants, and ducks can be found in the river both above and below the dam, and many small birds live in the vegetation along the riverbank.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking downstream to the north

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking downstream to the north

On January 7th, as I was recording, I walked upstream and saw a few birds.

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Dusky thrush (ツグミ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Dusky thrush (ツグミ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Activity in this park varies a lot, depending on the season, the weather, and the day of the week. But whatever they are doing, everyone in the park hears the same loud recorded message once every hour.

Audio recorder at New Year's Eve in the park along Yasugawa upstream from the Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama

New Year 2017 Temple Bells and Fireworks

This recording is also on radio aporee ::: maps.

On New Year’s Eve I wanted to record temple bells and fireworks along with other rural sounds from a nearby location with little traffic. I thought one of the Yasugawa riverside parks might be far enough away from major roads but still close to home.

There are no lights near this location and no place to park a car at night. I had to go by bicycle, so I practiced in daylight on December 31st.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

In daylight I mounted a small audio recorder on a light tripod. That practice helped me when I mounted an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder on the same tripod late at night in the dark.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

At night I recorded from at about 23:30 on December 31st until about 00:10 on January 1, 2017. As I was recording, I sat on a park bench with a nice view of Mikamiyama.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

View of Mikamiyama from the public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

The audio recording sounds pretty noisy, but that’s what it’s like in this suburban area with so many people and so much activity. We become so accustomed to noise that we just filter it out. Maybe that’s why they announce the year with fireworks. Those midnight explosions are hard to ignore.