The beginning of the modern new year in January overlaps two traditional Japanese seasons: 冬至 Tōji (Winter solstice) and 小寒 Shōkan (Lesser cold). In Shiga Prefecture autumn colors have mostly disappeared. Susuki grass and shrubs along rivers have become a darker shade of brown. We can see some flowers, but most large and colorful flowers have been planted. Small winter migrant birds have appeared, adding some activity and color to the countryside and local parks.
On February 24, 2018, a long-tailed tit (エナガ) struggled to remove insect cocoon material from the left side of its head, neck, and wing. A sequence of photographs shows how the bird rubbed itself against a branch to escape from the material.
The two-week period of February 4-18 marks the beginning of spring, Risshun (立春) in the traditional Japanese calendar of 24 seasons. In southern Shiga Prefecture winter birds are still here, often hiding in bushes and trees as raptors patrol the skies. Sparrows are active in fields, and great cormorants return to local colonies. Pink and […]
The period from January 20th to February 3rd is Daikan (大寒), “Greater Cold” in English, in the Japanese traditional calendar of 24 seasons. In the cold weather I photographed quite a few species of birds within walking distance of my home. See more photos in my Flickr photostream or one of my albums.
Winter brings more ducks to local ponds and wetlands. A shallow reservoir near Ono Ramp in Ritto City attracts northern shovelers (Anas clypeata, ハシビロガモ), which are conspicuous with their huge spatulate bills. They feed on aquatic invertebrates by shoveling water and mud and straining out their food. Their feeding can be very energetic, as we […]