Category Archives: audio

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.

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

New Year 2018 Field Recording

Here is a New Year’s Eve audio recording made in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. We can hear temple bells, traffic, trains, and other sounds. At midnight nearby fireworks and a neighbor’s firecracker announce the new year. We can also hear the rumble of fireworks in the distance.

On December 31, 2017, I scouted the location to be sure that I could set up easily at night.

Fields in Tsuji

Fields in Tsuji, Ritto City, on December 31, 2017. At midnight I recorded temple bells and fireworks here.

The Compass app on iPhone helped me point the microphone north.

Compass on iPhone and fields in Tsuji

Compass on iPhone and fields in Tsuji, Ritto City, on December 31, 2017. At midnight I recorded temple bells and fireworks here with the microphone aimed north.

At night I set up my recording gear a little before 23:30

New Year's Eve recording outdoors

New Year’s Eve recording outdoors at midnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

I rode my old commuting bike to the field and parked with the headlight aimed at the tripod location. With plenty of moonlight and a clear sky, I turned off the light before recording.

Old touring bicycle outdoors at night

Old touring bicycle outdoors at mdnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

After setup and testing, I recorded for about 40 minutes. I could see very well with a small headlamp.

New Year's Eve recording outdoors

New Year’s Eve recording outdoors at mdnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

Frankly, I was a little disappointed with this recording. I’d expected a nearby temple bell to be more dominant, but it did not stand out as I’d hoped. I like the variety of bells that we can hear in this recording, but next year I’ll try to record closer to a temple.

Notes

  1. Recording was done with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder mounted on a tripod.
  2. For post-processing I used the Audacity multitrack editor.
  3. This recording is also available on radio aporee ::: maps.

Takano Shrine on a Windy December Day

On December 12, 2017, I made a field recording at Takano Shrine in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社). See the location on radio aporee ::: maps.

Noisy aircraft, traffic, and other human sounds nearly drown out the voices of all the birds except a nearby crow.

Inner gate and worship hall (haiden, 拝殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (ema, 絵馬)

Wooden prayer tablets (ema, 絵馬) that hang near the main sanctuary clatter in the strong westerly wind.

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Winter birds

As the days become cooler, more and more birds appear in trees and bushes around the shrine.

Black-faced Bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) in Takano, Rito City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Late autumn colors

A few maple trees are still showing their autumn colors.

Fall colors at Takano Park in Ritto City

Maple leaves along the entrance to Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Technical notes

Audio was captured with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone with a Rycote Windjammer and recorded with a Tascam DR-70D recorder. Post-processing was done with Audacity on an old Lenovo ThinkStation 20 running Fedora GNU/Linux Workstation version 27.