From late March until mid October the rivers and fields near my home in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, are full of grey herons and great egrets. In autumn they fly south. By late November nearly all of them have gone, but each year a few remain. This December, 2015, I’ve seen at least one grey heron and two great egrets.
One grey heron has remained in Omifuji, Yasu City. This bird often stands along Oyamakawa, a small stream that has plenty of little fish to support a small population of herons, egrets, and kingfishers.
Sometimes the heron perches on the top of the riverbank, on the roof of a nearby factory, or above a pipeline that crosses the river (map).
A grey heron also appears now and then at the lower pond on the left bank of Yasugawa near Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City. I don’t know if this is the same bird that I see in Omifuji. It often stands on the same large rock (map).
In early December a great egret and several common cormorants joined the heron to catch fish in the pond, which became isolated from Yasugawa as the water level dropped.
On the 28th of December a grey heron and two egrets were walking along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City. The egrets were really shy, but I could get relatively close to the heron.
As the three birds moved downstream, they took turns flying to locations near one another. Finally they separated, and one of the great egrets flew to the mouth of Oyamakawa a little upstream from Yasugawa Ohashi (map).
I’m looking forward to watching these magnificent birds throughout the winter.