In November and December we can see gradual but dramatic changes in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Brilliant autumn colors appear and then fade, and deciduous trees and shrubs begin to appear barren as they reveal their branches. Bird populations change; most cormorants, egrets, and herons leave for warmer places, and winter migratory birds begin to appear.
With very mild weather this year, I saw a few butterflies until late November.
Black kites and other birds of prey often soar over rivers and fields. Sometimes crows steal their food.
Daurian restarts (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) appear in the fall and stay until early spring.
Japanese tits (シジュウカラ) and other small birds become more visible as trees begin to lose their leaves.
In early December I saw a Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi, イタチ) in mowed grass along an irrigation canal.
Autumn wind often blows from the northwest. Sometimes the sky is beautiful.
A large persimmon tree near my house attracts several species of birds, especially as the fruit ripens in late autumn.
Quite a few species of birds are very common throughout rural Shiga in late fall and winter.
Some egrets and herons stay into late autumn, and a few may stay all winter.
This year (2016) the autumn colors were brilliant, and I was able to spend quite a few days outdoors with a camera. All of the photos shown here were taken within a few kilometers of my home in Ritto City. Wild birds appeared in many places that I visited in Moriyama, Yasu, and Ritto by bicycle on on foot. I did not see any rare species that many bird photographers seek, but I am grateful that I can experience so much diversity so close to home.