On January 1, 2019, I took an early afternoon walk to Yasugawa (野洲川) here in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市). Along the road many Eurasian tree sparrows (スズメ) appeared in trees and bushes.

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus saturatus, スズメ)
Eurasian tree sparrows (スズメ)
Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus saturatus, スズメ)
Eurasian tree sparrow (スズメ)

Several white wagtails (ハクセキレイ) were in a field, and one was hopping along the river.

White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ)
White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ)

A beautiful grey wagtail (キセキレイ) appeared briefly and flew across the river before I could get close.

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ)
Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

A pair of great cormorants (カワウ) took off downstream, flew over the Japan Route 8 bridge, Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋), circled back toward me, and then split up.

Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo, カワウ)
Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo, カワウ)
Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo, カワウ)
Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo, カワウ)
Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo, カワウ)
Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo, カワウ)

Several large uprooted trees lie in the dry riverbed, which becomes submerged at high water. Most are not very photogenic, but one older stump caught my attention.

Uprooted tree stump, grass, and the Hira mountain range
Old uprooted tree stump along Yasugawa in Deba

The river is now very shallow, which is common in winter.

Yasugawa (野洲川)
Yasugawa (野洲川)
Yasugawa (野洲川)
Yasugawa (野洲川)
Yasugawa (野洲川) and Mikamiyama (三上山)
Yasugawa (野洲川) and Mikamiyama (三上山)

As the wind became stronger in mid-afternoon, a few people were flying kites at the closed ground golf course along the riverbank.

Kite flying in blue sky
Kite flying over Deba, Ritto City

On my way back home another tree sparrow appeared, adding a final touch to a pleasant afternoon walk.

Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus saturatus, スズメ)
Eurasian tree sparrow (スズメ)

See more photos in my Flickr photostream or one of my Flickr albums.

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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2 Comments

  1. What a nice way to start a new year! I love the way that flock of tree sparrows appear in a tree as if they are fruits. They are adoreble.

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