After a short stay in Saiseikai Shigaken Hospital (済生会滋賀県病院) from January 13th to 16th in order to install a chemotherapy port, I have been able to get outside a only few days. The weather has been pretty gloomy, leaving only a few nice days before I must return to the hospital on January 27th for a few days of chemotherapy under observation. Fortunately, I was able to take a few photos in the last days of the traditional season, 小寒 Shōkan (Lesser cold), and the first week of 大寒 Daikan (Greater cold).

January 16 – Photowalk

On January 16th, I took a walk to Yasugawa (野洲川). I was pleased to find some early spring flowers in bloom and a few small birds.

Veronica persica flower (Persian speedwell, bird’s-eye speedwell, オオイヌノフグリ) along a field in Tsuji, Ritto City
Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides cioide, ホオジロ)
Japanese pied wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ)
Red rose in Tsuji, Ritto City
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes, シメ)
Child crossing sign and camellia bush in Tsuji, Ritto City

January 18 – Photowalk along Yasugawa riverbank

January 18th was pretty dark. I took a short walk along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City. Most birds were hiding in cover. The snowless winter scenery was less than inspiring, but it had its own subtle beauty.

Bull-headed shrike (Lanius bucephalus, モズ)
Rustic bunting (Schoeniclus rusticus, カシラダカ)
Yasugawa right bank along the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

January 20 – Mountain bike ride to Yasu City

On Monday, January 20th, I took a 15km round-trip mountain bike ride to Yasu City, up Oyamakawa (大山川) through Omifuji, along rich farmland in Kitazakura, and up Koyamagawa (小山川) to the Omifuji Botanical Gardens.

Cultivator and crows

At the Omifuji Botanical Gardens I notice a sharp contrast between the bright colors of emerging flowers and drab snowless winter colors of trees.

Wintersweet flowers (Chimonanthus praecox form. concolor, ソシンロウバイ)
Pink plum blossoms (梅) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens
Trees behind the lotus pond at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens

Coming back down along Oyamakawa I saw very few birds except a bull-headed shrike (モズ) and a great egret (ダイサギ) that stayed just in front of me for a while.

Bull-headed shrike (Lanius bucephalus, モズ) along Oyamakawa in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Great egret (Ardea alba,ダイサギ)
Great egret (Ardea alba,ダイサギ)

Crossing Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) on the way home, I saw four great egrets (ダイサギ) downstream from the bridge with the Shinkansen (新幹線) crossing the river in the background.

Great egrets (Ardea alba,ダイサギ) below Ysugawa Ohashi

I was able to get out with my camera only a few days, but fortunately some birds and flowers appeared and gave life to otherwise pretty dreary winter scenes. I must spend most of next week in the hospital, but I hope to see more sunshine, interesting skies, wildlife, flowers, and scenery in February.

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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  1. Very glad you are finding the beauty in perhaps the most drab time of year. I liked the egrets with the shinkansen in the background.. stillness / speed.

    1. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but I think we can discover beauty if we remain open and alert to diversity. Little blue flowers really lifted my spirits one day. I was pleasantly surprised to find four egrets together in winter. In warm seasons they often gather in the shade under the train tracks. Then the stillness vs speed contrast is pretty dramatic

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