In November, 2015, I took video clips and photographs of wildlife from along the left bank of a small river, Oyamakawa (大山川), in Omifuji, Yasu City, a short bike ride from my home (map).

Video clips were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk. II camera. I used three Olympus lenses: a 17mm f1.8 for panoramas and old 200mm f4 and 300mm f4.5 Zuiko manual focus lenses for wildlife scenes. Music is from “Perspectives” by Kevin MacLeod (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license).

Postproduction was done with Audacity (audio), FFmpeg (video clip trimming), OpenShot (video editing), and digiKam (still photo editing) on a Lenovo ThinkStation S20 computer running the Fedora Workstation operating system.

Oyamakawa (大山川) is a small, gentle creek that flows from the hills above Bodaiji into Yasugawa just upstream from the Japan Route 8 bridge, Yasugawa Ohashi. The lower part of the creek in Omifuji, Yasu City, is full of vegetation that supports wildlife. The river seems tiny in its deep channel with high concrete banks for flood control.

Oyamakawa (大山川)

Oyamakawa (大山川)

Oyamakawa (大山川)

Usually the mouth of the river is even smaller than we can see in this photo (below), which was taken across the north fork of Yasugawa just after quite a lot of rain. The mountain in the background is Mikamiyama (三上山).

Autumn colors at Yasugawa

The video shows the most common birds there in November, but some appear more in still photos. For example, one grey wagtail (キセキレイ) is very photogenic at the river, but I have seen the bird there only a few times. Usually I see it at a distance, flitting about in bushes across the stream.

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ)

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ)

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ)

Great egrets were very common in early November, but I saw very few after the middle of the month.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Common kingfishers (川蝉) live at the river in at least two locations. At one of their favorite hunting places two older men have planted tree branches as perches for them in the riverbed. About once a week one of the men comes to take photos. Both men have the same routine. They dress in camouflage, sit patiently in folding chairs, and take photos with Olympus cameras attached to small telescopes. I don’t have such patience, but I was able to take a few photos of birds on their perches.

Common kingfisher (川蝉, カワセミ)

Common kingfisher (川蝉, カワセミ)

Common kingfisher (川蝉, カワセミ)

Another kingfisher hunts upstream and often perches on the concrete bank or on rocks in shallow water.

Common kingfisher (川蝉, カワセミ)

Some creatures don’t appear in the movie. For example, quite a few huge joro spiders had webs between trees early in the month.

Jorō Spider (Nephila clavata, ジョロウグモ)

Japanese black kites (トビ) sometimes flew overhead.

Japanese black kite (トビ)

Small birds appeared in trees and bushes, but I had better luck getting photos of them at other locations. For example, in October a Siberian stonechat (ノビタキ) was at the mouth of the river.

Siberian stonechat (ノビタキ)

A bull-headed shrike (モズ) was upstream in Sakura Ryokuchi Park.

Bull-headed shrike (モズ)

Pheasants, turtle doves, and numerous smaller birds live in the bushes near the mouth of the river.

Oyamakawa (大山川).

The Ritto ground gold course, which we can see on the other side of Yasugawa, is just a short walk from my house. It’s great to have so much vegetation and wildlife so close to home.

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (1977-2020). Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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