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.

Little Egrets at Yasugawa

Little egrets (コサギ) are very active at Yasugawa (野洲川) in early August.

When conditions are just right, many little egrets and a few great egrets (ダイサギ) and grey herons (アオサギ) feed on small aquatic creatures at the weir between Moriyama City on the left bank and Yasu City on the right. I recorded some of the action with video and still photos just after sunrise on August 6, 2018, and again in late afternoon on August 8, 2018.


Photos – August 6

On August 6, 2018, some little egrets and a few great egrets were catching fish in shallow water above the weir in Moriyama City. Others were standing on the weir and feeding on small aquatic creatures.

Often one bird would chase away an interloper. They did not chase other species of birds, but when confronted by an aggressive crow the egrets did not back down.

Photos – August 8

On August 8, 2018, I went to the river late in the afternoon. The sun was behind my back, and there was a strong wind from the northwest (downstream).

As usual, some little egrets bullied others over territory

A few little egrets crowded up close to much larger great egrets (ダイサギ). Sometimes the larger birds snapped at the little ones when they got too close, but real conflict erupted only between birds of the same species. Once a great egret stopped feeding and marched off to confront another great egret.

Sometimes other birds appeared at or below the weir.

Some of the little egrets were feeding very actively.

As we can see in the video above, sometimes they would slip and fall before taking flight. It seemed that they had temporarily forgotten that they could fly. Of course, little egrets fly very well!


All photos and video clips were shot handheld with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and M. Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens. Some closeup scenes were shot with the camera’s 2X digital teleconverter.

Music: “Kawai Kitsune” by Kevin MacLeod (, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

All postprocessing was done on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I edited the video clips and added titles with with Kdenlive, but I did not modify the colors or add any enhancements. Photos were organized and edited with digiKam.

Other photos can be seen on my Flickr photostream. Videos are on my YouTube video channel.

Kubon Falls (九品の滝)

One of my favorite places in Ritto City is Kubon Falls (九品の滝), also called Inoue Falls (井上の滝). Here I have been practicing long-exposure photography.

When I began to use a tripod, I was using exposure times of 5-8 seconds with an ND64 filter.

Recently I’ve been trying an ND1000 filter and longer times of 20-60 seconds.

Minerals in the water turn the rocks brown, and moss adds green here and there.

Sometimes we can see wildlife near the falls or down in the valley.

Not many people visit each day, but access by car is easy. A sign, a bus stop, and a small parking lot mark the entrance to the falls from the road up the valley in Inoue.

Usually I go by bicycle, so I can ride up the path along Anakuchigawa (穴口川) all the way to the falls.

I always enjoy the scenic ride back down the valley in Inoue and Misono.

With a bicycle it’s easy to stop and appreciate whatever we see along the road.

Rudbeckia hirta flowers (black-eyed susan, キヌガサギク, 衣笠菊) in Inoue

Rudbeckia hirta flowers (black-eyed susan, キヌガサギク, 衣笠菊) along a rice paddy in Inoue, Ritto City

Young Egrets and Herons at Ten Shrine

In June, 2018, I recorded and photographed several species of egret and heron chicks at Ten Shrine in Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.

My little recorder captured the whole sonic environment, noise and all, with small omnidirectional mics that I attached to my backpack in order to create a quasi-binaural soundscape.

Low-frequency traffic noise was pretty loud, even on a Sunday afternoon. We can hear the birds more clearly by adding a high-pass filter, for example, a -6dB roll-off beginning at 880Hz.

Unfortunately, such manipulation distorts reality. It may sound better to most people, but it is no longer an authentic field recording.

Bird nests filled the trees surrounding this shrine, especially along a road near the entrance, as we can see on the radio aporee map for this location.

Fortunately, we had blue skies on several days during Rainy Season in June.

Many young birds were in the trees, calling and competing with siblings.

Species included birds I rarely see, such as black-crowned night herons.

Cattle egrets stayed close to tree trunks but sometimes showed themselves.

Birds in flight included adults bringing food and youngsters testing their wings.

I talked with several people who live near the shrine. They have to put up with a lot of noise and bird droppings that have increased in recent years as wildlife habitats are destroyed. Nearly all the trees that once lined the nearby Yasugawa riverbank have been bulldozed, leaving only low bushes, weeds, and a few recreational facilities. Many of the remaining trees for colonies of these beautiful birds are in sacred groves at rural shrines.

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.