Category Archives: photography

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.

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.

Aging Camellia Flowers

On February 2, 2018, I was looking at a hedge of camellias behind the Ritto City Library (Shiga Prefecture, Japan). Some of the flowers were wilting. As I began to photograph individual flowers, I realized that the aging camellia flowers showed a lot individuality, each displaying a unique shape, texture, and color pattern.

Of course, most photos of camellias (ツバキ) show young flowers. Perhaps we become programmed to think of beauty as something fresh and flawless.

I’m sure many people see aging camellia flowers as ugly, but I wonder if that’s because they don’t look closely at each one as an individual. If we set aside our assumptions about beauty as youthful perfection, we can appreciate details that give character to each old flower.

Camellias (ツバキ)

Camellias (ツバキ) in the garden behind Ritto City Library

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.

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)