Category Archives: 野鳥

A Ride to Hatonomori Park

On December 13, 2018, I rode my mountain bike down along the left bank of Yasugawa to Moriyama. Along the way quite a few Japanese black kites (トビ) were flying and roosting on the ground and in trees near the carcass of a large fish.

Japanese black kites (トビ)

Japanese black kites (トビ) at Yasugawa

Japanese black kite (トビ)

Japanese black kite (トビ) at Yasugawa

Japanese black kite (トビ)

Japanese black kite (トビ) at Yasugawa

Below the weir I rode over the embankment that divides the riverbank from houses and fields in Moriyama. A patch of weeds along the road included shepherd’s purse (ナズナ) with tiny white flowers.

Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's-purse, ナズナ)

Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s-purse, ナズナ)

Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's-purse, ナズナ)

Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s-purse, ナズナ)

At the end of the road I rode up the hill and along a playgound (北川原公園) to Shiga Prefectural Route 151. I turned left and followed the right fork of the street to Hatonomori Park (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園).

In the park I left my bike near a bridge across the little stream, where calla lilies were blooming.

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica, カラー)

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica, カラー)

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica, カラー)

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica, カラー)

I was hoping to find small birds among the camellias, but there were only flowers and fallen petals.

Camellia bushes

Camellias at Hatonomori Park (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Camellia bushes

Camellias at Hatonomori Park (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Fortunately, quite a few birds were near Firefly Pond (蛍池), the upper pond. Japanese white-eye (メジロ) were in large trees.

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ)

Some bushes and trees border the area above the pond. A pygmy woodpecker (コゲラ) was on a small tree right in front of me.

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ)

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ)

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ)

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ)

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ)

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ)

Nearby a Japanese tit (シジュウカラ) flitted between bushes. The shy but curious little bird stayed in the area as it kept its distance and peered out at me from cover.

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ)

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ)

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ)

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ)

A female Daurian redstart (ジョウビタキ) in the same area perched in the open and called. She did not seem to mind my presence.

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

At the lower pond a flock of Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ) included one with green head plumage, perhaps a hybrid.

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ)

As usual at this pond, two pairs of mallards (マガモ) joined the Eastern spot-billed ducks. One of the females swam leisurely, and other was more active.

Mallard female (マガモ)

Mallard female (マガモ))

Eastern spot-billed (カルガモ) and mallard ducks (マガモ)

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ) around a mallard female (マガモ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

One of the mallard males put on a show right in front of me as he stood and fanned his wings. What a beautiful creature!

Mallard male (マガモ)

Mallard male (マガモ)

Mallard male (マガモ)

Mallard male (マガモ)

After I left the park, I rode back toward the river, stopping at Ten Shrine (天神社) to admire the late fall colors.

Late fall colors atTen Shrine (天神社)

Ten Shrine (天神社) in Kawata-cho, Moriyama City

At Yasugawa I crossed Kawata Ohashi (川田大橋) and rode upriver along the right (north) bank.

Susuki grass along Yasugawa

Susuki grass along the north side of Yasugawa in Ichimiyake, Yasu City

A few kilometers from home I paused atop a mound to rest and enjoy the late afternoon scenery.

MOuntain bike, woods, and Mikamiyama

Mountain bike on a mound at the woods along the north side of Yasugawa at in Ichimiyake, Yasu City (野洲川北流跡自然の森), Mikamiyama (三上山) in background.

In nearly five hours I rode only 19.25 kilometers, but I was lucky to enjoy the colorful late fall scenery, see wildflowers still in bloom, and photograph some beautiful birds. A short bike ride down along the riverbank turned into a very good day outdoors.

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.

Video

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!

Notes

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 (incompetech.com), 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.

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.

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

Long-tailed Tits (エナガ)

On January 27, 2018, I was walking along the edge of a field near my house when a flock on long-tailed tits (エナガ) appeared right in front of me at eye level. I was able to take a few photos of them.

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tits (エナガ)

Long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tits (エナガ)

Long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

These cute little birds blessed me with their presence for only a few minutes before they vanished. If I had not been there, quiet and alert, I would have missed the opportunity to see them so close.

We experience life most richly when we are fully present.