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.

Grey heron (アオサギ)

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).

Grey heron (アオサギ)

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).

Grey heron (アオサギ)

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.

Grey heron (アオサギ) and common cormorant (カワウ)

Grey heron (アオサギ) and common cormorant (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and common cormorants (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and common cormorant (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

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.

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ)

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).

Great egret (ダイサギ) and grey heron (アオサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

I’m looking forward to watching these magnificent birds throughout the winter.

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University. I have retired from full-time service (1977-2014) and now offer weekly lectures in interpersonal and intercultural communication. Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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