Great white egret landing at a small river penninsula.

Herons and Egrets – October 2014

This movie is an attempt to show some activities of herons and egrets as seen at Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, in October, 2014. The clips in the movie were extracted from many hours of video that includes other birds, especially black kites, cormorants, wagtails, and many crows. Other creatures, not caught by the camera, include kingfishers, pheasants, pigeons, and a beautiful little weasel that emerges from the bushes now and then.

The location is a noisy place, with the Tokaido Shinkansen roaring past every few minutes, traffic on Japan Route 8, people walking past along the riverbank path, and baseball games on Sundays. Sometimes the crows in nearby trees dominated the soundscape. The map below shows the location. Most scenes were shot from the path we can see along the left side the riverbank, halfway between the Shinkansen tracks and Japan Route 8.

Video was shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. For all wildlife scenes I used old (c1986) Olympus OM-System Zuiko MC Auto-T (manual) 200mm and 300mm lenses. Shooting required great patience while I waited and then quick decision-making as birds suddenly appeared. Sometimes I waited for over an hour for a burst of activity that lasted a few minutes.

This was my first attempt to add a music soundtrack to a wildlife movie. I wanted to suggest a calm pastoral environment but also convey the epic drama of hunting and killing by these beautiful creatures. I think we humans tend to focus on their elegant beauty as they glide and land. We may downplay the fact that such magnificent birds are hunters. They prefer certain locations but explore other places, watch the water, stalk their prey, sometimes stumble, and often miss when they strike. As we can see in the movie, they do not give up easily. Every day they face a life-or-death struggle to survive, and they thrive because they are relentless killers.

Music is from the album “Calls and Echoes” by Kai Engel (www.kai-engel.com). Soundtrack License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Many thanks to Kai Engel!

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