Category Archives: 自然環境

Chinese Pond Turtles (クサガメ)

Migration in November

On November 19, 2017, I was surprised to see three Chinese pond turtles (Mauremys reevesii, Reeve’s turtle, クサガメ) crawling up a nearly empty irrigation canal. The was my first time to see turtles like these with three ridges along their backs. I later learned that this small turtle is an endangered species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Japan Ministry of the Environment: 環境省レッドリスト).

The turtles were making their way upstream, probably migrating to a small pond along the canal.

Chinese pond turtles (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ) walking up the the canal in Tsuji, Ritto City.

The closest one withdrew into its shell as soon as it noticed me.

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

I backed away, but turtle was surprised by a white wagtail (Motacilla alba, ハクセキレイ).

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ) and Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ) and Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Eventually the turtle posed before returning its journey.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Sighting in January

On January 2, 2018, I spotted a Chinese pond turtle upstream in the canal near the pond, which had dried out. It was basking in the sun under a little waterfall where food was plentiful.

The turtle was covered with mud and some vegetation.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

This small turtle is not very photogenic, but the survival of Mauremys reevesii as a threatened species makes this Chinese pond turtle a beautiful creature.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Egrets in September

September at Yasugawa (野洲川) begins gently as the hot, lazy days of summer continue. Great egrets and grey herons stand patiently in and along the river.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa in Moriyama

Grey heron and great egret (アオサギとダイサギ)

Grey heron and great egret (アオサギとダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the Shinkansen tracks

As the river rises in early September, we see fewer egrets at popular summer locations such under the Shinkansen (新幹線) bridge.

Shinkansen (新幹線)

Shinkansen (新幹線) crossing Yasugawa (野洲川)

Many egrets gather at the dam between Yasu City and Moriyama City.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Some pursue fish in the river below the dam.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Some perch on the dam and hunt for small aquatic animals.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa above the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Some hunt in nearby fields, eating grasshoppers and other insects. Sometimes they find larger prey.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) with a large frog in Tsuji, Ritto City

Fall weather begins in early October. Many birds begin to migrate to warmer locations, while some egrets and herons remain at Yasugawa.

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ) at Omoigawa (思川)

On Sunday, October 1, 2017, I rode my touring bike along Japan National Route 1 to Omoigawa (思川) in Iwane, Konan City. The ride out was hard and slow as I fought against a strong southeast headwind, but I enjoyed the emerging fall colors along the small river.

Omoigawa (思川) is now more of a canal than a natural river, but it teems with vegetation and wildlife. Fish attract large birds like this grey heron (アオサギ).

Grey heron (アオサギ) at Omoigawa (思川) in Iwane, Konan City

Local authorities in Shiga Prefecture try to educate people about the importance of keeping rivers clean. For example, an old sign explains the relationship between water quality and species of fish and aquatic animals that thrive in rivers.

Trek 520 touring bike parked along Omoigawa (思川) near Chudebashi (中出橋) in Iwane, Konan City, at a large sign which lists species of fish and aquatic animals that live at different water quality levels

The southeast wind was so strong that I decided to make a u-turn at Tsushima Shrine (津島神社), only about 11km from home.

Trek 520 touring bike at Tsushima Jinja (津島神社) along Omoigawa (思川) near Kamiebashi (上出橋) in Iwane, Konan City

As I was resting, I walked over to the nearest bridge, Kamidebashi (上出橋), and saw some Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ) swimming upstream.

Eastern spot-billed ducks (Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha, カルガモ ) at Omoigawa (思川) near Kamidebashi (上出橋) in Iwane, Konan City

I shot one still and some video clips with my little Panasonic DMC-LX9. At home I edited the video clips with Kdenlive on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. Editing was minimal. I trimmed and combined clips, added music and titles, boosted color saturation, and reduced brightness a little.

Music: “Drifting” by Jason Shaw at AudionautiX.com, Licensed under a Creative Common Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license.

Butterflies in September


September is a great month to watch butterflies and other insects on flowers in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Between August 31 and September 21, 2017, I photographed ten species and saw several others while cycling in the countryside near my home.

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Old World swallowtail (Papilio machaon) – キアゲハ

Old World swallowtail butterflies (Papilio machaon), キアゲハ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Old World swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ) on a cosmos flower behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Old World swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ) on Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ [花虎の尾]) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Old World swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ) on Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ [花虎の尾]) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

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Asian swallowtail (Papilio xuthus) – アゲハチョウ

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

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Indian fritillary (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius) – ツマグロヒョウモン

Indian fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Indian fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) in Anyoji, Ritto City, near Ritto Nature Center (栗東自然観察の森)

Indian fritillary butterfly female (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) near the woods in Yasugawa Athletic Park in Ritto City 野洲川運動公園

Indian fritillary butterfly female (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) along the Yasugawa riverbank in Moriyama City

Indian fritillary butterflies (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) mating near the woods in Yasugawa Athletic Park in Ritto City 野洲川運動公園. The more colorful female is on the left.

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Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) – ヒメアカタテハ

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) on a cosmos flower behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City, with Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

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Eastern pale clouded yellow (Colias erate poliographys) – モンキチョウ

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys, モンキチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys, モンキチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ) on a sunflower behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

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Common bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon nipponum) アオスジアゲハ

Common bluebottle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon nipponum, アオスジアゲハ) on the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

Common bluebottle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon nipponum, アオスジアゲハ) on the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

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Small white (Pieris rapae) – モンシロチョウ

Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) [?] along the Yasugawa riverbank in Moriyama City

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Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum) – キタテハ

Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

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Common straight swift (Parnara guttata guttata) – イチモンジセセリ

Straight swift butterfly (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ) at the ground golf course near the JR train tracks in Moriyama City

Common straight swift butterfly (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Common straight swift butterfly (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

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Spangle (Papilio protenor) – クロアゲハ

Spangle [butterfly] (Papilio protenor, クロアゲハ) on red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

Spangle [butterfly] (Papilio protenor, クロアゲハ) on red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

Spangle [butterfly] (Papilio protenor, クロアゲハ) on red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

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Notes

Please let me know if you see errors in the photo captions. I have only recently learned the names of some butterflies and flowers shown here.

Most photos were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera and an M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14. Usually I shoot with Auto-ISO in shutter priority mode. For wide-angle and medium shots I use a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX9 (Japanese-only version of LX10/LX15).

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Sounds of cicadas at the end of summer

Along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, cicadas dominate the soundscape in summer. In mid-September, before autumnal equinox, smaller insects join the chorus.

On 2017-09-15 the cicadas were very loud as I rode my mountain bike on a path through a grove of ornamental cherry trees between a small river and a residential neighborhood (radio aporee ::: maps – Omifuji, Yasu-shi, Shiga-ken, Japan).

Araya Muddy Fox mountain bike

Araya Muddy Fox mountain bike near the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City.

Audio recorder and microphones

Audio recorder and microphones on a cherry tree in the woods along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

A little before 13:00 I mounted a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Clippy EM172 mics on a tree trunk for quasi-binaural recording. The mics face northwest toward a busy two-lane road, Japan national route 8, with the river and farms to the right and a residential neighborhood to the left.

Audio recorder and microphones

Audio recorder and microphones on a cherry tree in the woods along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

We can hear cars, trucks, agricultural machinery (rice harvester), and other human sounds, but the cicadas compete well and nearly drown out the songs of smaller insects. Soon the cicadas will fall silent, and we’ll wonder how another summer passed so quickly.

Red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花)

Red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Mikami, Yasu City, Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background.