Author Archives: Greg Peterson

About Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (full-time 1977-2014, retired/part-time 2014-). I am mostly retired, but I teach interpersonal and intercultural communication one day a week. I enjoy outdoor activities in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I have lived since 1980: cycling, hiking, photography, field recording, and sometimes just wandering around the countryside. Computers and media: I've used Free and Open Source Software on Unix, FreeBSD, and GNU/Linux workstations and servers since the late 1980s. I'm very comfortable with command-line computing, although I enjoy multimedia editing. I very rarely use proprietary operating system, and have no interest in video games.

Egret Rookery

Great egrets (ダイサギ), cattle egrets (アマサギ), and other birds nest in the woods at Hyozu Shrine (兵主大社) in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. I recorded the sounds of the rookery on Sunday, May 27, 2018, and posted a six-minute sample on radio aporee ::: maps and SoundCloud.

The woods are between a large shrine and Yasu City athletic facilities (野洲市中主B&G海洋センター). The white spots in the satellite image of the woods are egrets.

The recording location was not very photogenic. White bird droppings covered everything in the area. On the ground near the tree that held my recorder broken eggshells and a feather indicated young egrets above.

Eggshell below a great egret nest

Eggshell below a great egret nest beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Short feather below a great egret nest

Short feather below a great egret nest beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Nests and young birds were hidden in the treetops.

Egret nests and young great egrets (ダオサギ)

Egret nests and young great egrets (ダオサギ) in the woods beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Now and then an adult egret appeared, and I was lucky to see a cattle egret carrying a branch for a nest.

Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis, アマサギ)

Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis, アマサギ) in the woods beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Recording and post-processing

This recording was made with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Communications Clippy Stereo EM172 Microphone tied to a tree. Since I was near the south edge of the woods, I placed the mics placed slightly forward of center facing north.

Audio post-processing was done with Audacity on Fedora Workstation, a Linux system running on a Lenovo ThinkStation 20 computer. I trimmed this excerpt from a longer recording and raised the overall volume. No other digital signal processing was done.

Great Cormorants Nesting

This spring great cormorants (カワウ) are nesting high in trees along Yasugawa near my home in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. On Saturday, April 21, 2018, I made an audio recording in the woods under their nests. I tried to minimize sounds of human activity by recording during lunchtime.

Audio recording was done under the nests, where white bird poop covered everything. The cleanest spot was right at the trunk of a large tree.

At that location it was hard to see the birds in the dense woods.

They are more visible along a nearby dirt road.

Great cormorant (カワウ)

Great cormorant (カワウ) in Hayashi, Ritto City

Great cormorant (カワウ)

Great cormorants (カワウ) in Hayashi, Ritto City

Great egrets are also nesting nearby. I could hear the sounds of their wings as they landed on treetops. Sometimes I could see one overhead.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) in Hayashi, Ritto City

I saw one broken egg, but obvious signs of death are rare here in the woods.

Broken great egret egg

Broken great egret egg in the woods in Hayashi, Ritto City

Soon quite a few young people will be swimming and playing in the river just a few hundred meters downstream. Probably they’ll be unaware of the colony of great cormorants nearby.

Great cormorants (カワウ)

Great cormorants (カワウ) along Yasugawa in Yasu City, seen from Hayashi, Ritto City

Recording and post-processing

This method of quasi-binaural recording attempts to emulate human perception by placing left and right omnidirectional mics on either side of an object about the diameter of a human adult head. It is not ideal, of course, but setup can be done very quickly.

This recording was made with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Communications Clippy Stereo EM172 Microphone tied to a tree. Since the tree was quite a bit larger than a human head, I placed the mics placed forward of center facing toward the river and away from a nearby dirt road.

Audio post-processing was done with Audacity on Fedora Workstation, a Linux system running on a Lenovo ThinkStation 20 computer. I trimmed this excerpt from a longer recording, raised the overall volume, and added fade-in and fade-out. No other digital signal processing was done.

Flowering Weeds in Early Spring

In March and April the Japanese countryside comes to life as weeds appear along fields and streams, anywhere with soil. Some of these plants are known for medicinal properties, and some are gathered as food. Most are ignored or cut down.

This year I’m trying to learn the names of flowering weeds as they appear in nearby fields and along the Yasugawa riverbank in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. This photo gallery includes some of the flowers I’ve seen from the beginning of March until mid-April, 2018.

Many of the flowers are tiny! Most of these photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk. II camera and a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, which I showed on Twitter.

Crows along Yasugawa

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, I was cycling down the north bank of Yasugawa when I heard some noisy crows perched in nearby trees.

When I ride my touring bike, I carry a small audio recorder and microphones. For this recording I used a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and Clippy Stereo EM172 mics by FEL Communications Ltd. To mimic human hearing, a quasi-binaural sound image was made by placing the mics on either side of my bicycle handlebar bag. I prefer to use trees about the diameter of an adult human head, but I use the handlebar bag when I cannot find a tree.

Trek 520 touring bike with audio recorder and mics on handlebar bag in Yasu City

The Compass app on my iPhone shows the location, direction, and time.

Compass and geolocation app on bicycle handlebar bag in Yasu City

As we can see on the map, this location is between a river and near the edge of a suburban area. With aircraft overhead, vehicles on nearby roads, and rural and suburban human activities, this place is quite noisy, even on Sunday.

In everyday life we filter out much of the noise. When the crows are not so noisy, I suppose most people experience this environment as a peaceful and quiet little park, just as it appears in photographs.

Trek 520 touring bike in Yasu City

Trek 520 touring bike in Yasu City

Aging Camellia Flowers

On February 2, 2018, I was looking at a hedge of camellias behind the Ritto City Library (Shiga Prefecture, Japan). Some of the flowers were wilting. As I began to photograph individual flowers, I realized that the aging camellia flowers showed a lot individuality, each displaying a unique shape, texture, and color pattern.

Of course, most photos of camellias (ツバキ) show young flowers. Perhaps we become programmed to think of beauty as something fresh and flawless.

I’m sure many people see aging camellia flowers as ugly, but I wonder if that’s because they don’t look closely at each one as an individual. If we set aside our assumptions about beauty as youthful perfection, we can appreciate details that give character to each old flower.

Camellias (ツバキ)

Camellias (ツバキ) in the garden behind Ritto City Library