Category Archives: Japan

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.

Flowering Weeds in Early Spring

In March and April the Japanese countryside comes to life as weeds appear along fields and streams, anywhere with soil. Some of these plants are known for medicinal properties, and some are gathered as food. Most are ignored or cut down.

This year I’m trying to learn the names of flowering weeds as they appear in nearby fields and along the Yasugawa riverbank in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. This photo gallery includes some of the flowers I’ve seen from the beginning of March until mid-April, 2018.

Many of the flowers are tiny! Most of these photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk. II camera and a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, which I showed on Twitter.

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.

Japanese Wagtail

On January 25, 2018, I saw a Japanese wagtail (Motacilla grandis, セグロセキレイ) in a small irrigation canal. The bird’s injured right foot did not prevent it from actively foraging in the shallow water as light snow fell.

In addition to several video clips, I took a few still photos of the bird.

The plowed fields may look barren now, but quite a few birds gather here in winter.

Plowed fields and small canal

Plowed fields and small canal in Tsuji, Ritto City

Notes

Video and photos were shot hand-held with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and a 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens.

Music: “Rainbows” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License.

Video was edited with Kdenlive on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation.

Mallards at Hatonomori Park

In January 2018 I watched the mallard ducks at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園).

One male was especially active on January 12th as he scratched his head and rolled and flipped in the water. I took some still photos that caught him in various positions.

Watching wild creatures rewards us in many ways. We can appreciate their existence and their beauty, and often we can gain insight about their behavior. And sometimes we can be thoroughly entertained.

Notes

Video and photos were shot hand-held with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and a 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens.

Music: “Perspectives” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License.

Video was edited with Kdenlive on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation.