Category Archives: photography

Water lilies in mid-September

In the middle of September some Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン) and other aquatic plants are blooming at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森). Many of the flowers look a bit tired and wilted, but a few continue to stun visitors with their beauty.

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン) and other aquatic plants

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン) and other aquatic plants at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)

Water lilies (スイレン) and Victoria cruziana (パラグアイオニバス)

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン) and huge Victoria cruziana (Santa Cruz water lily, パラグアイオニバス) leaves at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン)

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン) at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)

Water lily (Nymphaea, スイレン)

Water lily (Nymphaea, スイレン) at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン)

Water lilies (Nymphaea, スイレン) at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)

Water lily (Nymphaea, スイレン)

Water lily (Nymphaea, スイレン) at the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)

Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森

I feel very fortunate to live near the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森).

From my home it is only a 25-minute drive. Since I am over 65 and a local resident, it costs only ¥150 to see such beauty in a well-maintained environment.

Grey wagtails (キセキレイ)

In winter I have been delighted to see several grey wagtails (キセキレイ). Here in Shiga Prefecture these beautiful birds are much less common and much more colorful than two other wagtail species, Japanese wagtails (セグロセキレイ) and white wagtails (ハクセキレイ).

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ, Motacilla cinerea cinerea) above Yasugawa dam in Moriyama

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ, Motacilla cinerea cinerea) above Yasugawa dam in Moriyama

In winter I’ve seen grey wagtails most often at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園). The small stream along the park is an ideal location that I discovered in 2016.

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ) in Hatonomori Park, Moriyama City.

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ) in Hatonomori Park, Moriyama City.

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ) in Hatonomori Park, Moriyama City.

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ) in Hatonomori Park, Moriyama City.

In 2017 the same stream remains a good spot.

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県   守山市 鳩の森公園)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県   守山市 鳩の森公園)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県   守山市 鳩の森公園)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Sometimes I encounter grey wagtails along other streams. In December I was able to photograph one as I was cycling along a canal near Hiyoshi Shrine (日吉神社) in Kamitoyama, Ritto City.

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) along a field near Hiyoshi Shrine (日吉神社) in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) along a field near Hiyoshi Shrine (日吉神社) in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

Now and then we can see grey wagtails in open areas. After it snowed here in January, 2017, one appeared for several days in Takano Park (滋賀県 栗東市 高野公園).

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

I am hoping to see more of these beautiful, shy birds before they fly away.

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City. Shot at 1/640sec @ f8 ISO 400.

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City. Shot at 1/640sec @ f8 ISO 400.

Daurian redstarts (ジョウビタキ)

In late fall and winter many beautiful small birds migrate to Shiga Prefecture in Japan. One of the most colorful species is the Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus), in Japanese, jōbitaki (ジョウビタキ).

Breeding males are easy to spot: orange chest and lower back, black upper back, head, and neck, grey crown and nape, and very dark brown wings with large white patches. They often perch out in the open, which makes them easy to photograph.

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at the Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Yasu City

Redstarts are sexually dimorphic. Females are not so colorful. They’re brown above, lighter below, with an orange rump and back-and-orange tail. They’re inconspicuous except in flight. Sometimes they appear in the open, but they tend to stay in or near trees and bushes.

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at a small playground in Ohata, Yasu City

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at a small playground in Ohata, Yasu City

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Daurian redstarts seem to be very territorial and easy to spot if you known where to look. I often see a male in a neighbor’s garden, several males and females along the river in Ritto and Moriyama, a male in the Omifuji Botanical Gardens, and a female in a little playground near the JR train tracks in Yasu City. It is always a pleasure to see such beautiful creatures so close to home.

Snow scenes

Ritto City in southern Shiga Prefecture, Japan, was covered with snow for a few days in January, 2017.

January 15th

On January 15th heavy snow covered Takano Park near my home.

Snow at Takano Shrine in Ritto City on January 15, 2017

Snow at Takano Shrine in Ritto City on January 15, 2017

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

As usual on Sunday, local children were playing at Takano Park. They seemed delighted by the rare chance to play in a snowstorm.

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

January 16th

On January 16th more snow was followed by patches of blue sky.

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus, スズメ) in a snow-covered field in Hayashi, Ritto City

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus, スズメ) in a snow-covered field in Hayashi, Ritto City

Tree at the end of the ground golf course in Deba, RItto City, during a snow storm

Tree at the end of the ground golf course in Deba, RItto City, during a snow storm

Two spring riders near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City, with Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Two spring riders near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City, with Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City, with Mikamiyama in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City, with Mikamiyama in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City

Pink rose in Tsuji, Ritto City

Pink rose in Tsuji, Ritto City

January 24th

We had a bit more snow on January 24th. By noon it was melting.

Snow-covered fields in Hayashi, Ritto City

Snow-covered fields in Hayashi, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, RItto City

Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, RItto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) seen from Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) seen from Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, RItto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) seen from the woods at Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) seen from the woods at Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, RItto City

Yasugawa Sports Park on a winter afternoon

Yasugawa Sports Park on a winter afternoon

Appreciating wider angles

This January a few days of snow reminded me to appreciate a wider view of the environment. Most of my photographs have been portraits of birds or closeups of bugs or flowers. I enjoy watching living creatures up close through a telephoto lens, but I don’t want to become too absorbed in such a narrow view of life. I think it’s wise to also see and photograph the world from a broader and more natural perspective.

January birds

In January, 2017, I took hundreds of photographs of birds near my home in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Here are a few of them.

More photos are on Flickr. Quality varies!

Selected photos are on 500px.

Eurasian tree sparrows (スズメ) in a field south of Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Eurasian tree sparrows (スズメ) in a field south of Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus, スズメ) in Takano, Ritto City

Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus, スズメ) in Takano, Ritto City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) in Takano, Ritto City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) in Takano, Ritto City

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Japanese tit (Parus minor, シジュウカラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Varied tit (Parus varius, ヤマガラ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Varied tit (Parus varius, ヤマガラ) in a cherry tree near the Sunrise Tower at Sakura Cemetery in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni, ビンズイ) in Yasugawa Sports Park woods

Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni, ビンズイ) in Yasugawa Sports Park woods

Oriental turtle-doves (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Oriental turtle-doves (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Oriental turtle-dove (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Takano Park in Ritto City

Oriental turtle-dove (Streptopelia orientalis, キジバト) at Takano Park in Ritto City

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla, アトリ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla, アトリ) at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ)  eating persimmons in Tsuji, Ritto City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) eating persimmons in Tsuji, Ritto City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) in Factory Park near the Kibogaokaguchi intersection in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) in Factory Park near the Kibogaokaguchi intersection in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Pale thrush (Turdus pallidus, シロハラ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Pale thrush (Turdus pallidus, シロハラ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Scaly thrush [Amami thrush] (Zoothera dauma, トラツグミ) in the woods along Yasugawa between the soccer ground and the parking lot near the backetball court in Moriyama

Scaly thrush [Amami thrush] (Zoothera dauma, トラツグミ) in the woods along Yasugawa between the soccer ground and the parking lot near the backetball court in Moriyama

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides, ホオジロ, 頬白) along Yasugawa riverbank near the ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Black-faced bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) on the gravel road to Takano Shrine in Ritto City

Black-faced bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) on the gravel road to Takano Shrine in Ritto City

White wagtail (Motacilla alba  lugens, ハクセキレイ) at Takano Park in Ritto City

White wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens, ハクセキレイ) at Takano Park in Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ) in Takano Park, Ritto City

Crow (カラス) in a tree along Yasugawa in Moriyama

Crow (カラス) in a tree along Yasugawa in Moriyama

Common kingfisher (カワセミ, 川蝉) female at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Common kingfisher (カワセミ, 川蝉) female at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ) in a camellia tree at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus, メジロ) in a camellia tree at Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園) in Moriyama City

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki,  コゲラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki, コゲラ) along Yasugawa riverbank near the lower ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

I’m looking forward exploring Shiga Prefecture and seeing more birds in February.