Category Archives: photography

Egrets in September

September at Yasugawa (野洲川) begins gently as the hot, lazy days of summer continue. Great egrets and grey herons stand patiently in and along the river.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa in Moriyama

Grey heron and great egret (アオサギとダイサギ)

Grey heron and great egret (アオサギとダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the Shinkansen tracks

As the river rises in early September, we see fewer egrets at popular summer locations such under the Shinkansen (新幹線) bridge.

Shinkansen (新幹線)

Shinkansen (新幹線) crossing Yasugawa (野洲川)

Many egrets gather at the dam between Yasu City and Moriyama City.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Some pursue fish in the river below the dam.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Some perch on the dam and hunt for small aquatic animals.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa above the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Some hunt in nearby fields, eating grasshoppers and other insects. Sometimes they find larger prey.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) with a large frog in Tsuji, Ritto City

Fall weather begins in early October. Many birds begin to migrate to warmer locations, while some egrets and herons remain at Yasugawa.

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ) at Yasugawa on the dam in Moriyama City

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at Yasugawa below the dam in Moriyama City

Butterflies in September


September is a great month to watch butterflies and other insects on flowers in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Between August 31 and September 21, 2017, I photographed ten species and saw several others while cycling in the countryside near my home.

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Old World swallowtail (Papilio machaon) – キアゲハ

Old World swallowtail butterflies (Papilio machaon), キアゲハ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Old World swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ) on a cosmos flower behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Old World swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ) on Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ [花虎の尾]) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Old World swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ) on Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ [花虎の尾]) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

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Asian swallowtail (Papilio xuthus) – アゲハチョウ

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

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Indian fritillary (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius) – ツマグロヒョウモン

Indian fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Indian fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) in Anyoji, Ritto City, near Ritto Nature Center (栗東自然観察の森)

Indian fritillary butterfly female (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) near the woods in Yasugawa Athletic Park in Ritto City 野洲川運動公園

Indian fritillary butterfly female (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) along the Yasugawa riverbank in Moriyama City

Indian fritillary butterflies (Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) mating near the woods in Yasugawa Athletic Park in Ritto City 野洲川運動公園. The more colorful female is on the left.

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Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) – ヒメアカタテハ

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) on a cosmos flower behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City, with Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

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Eastern pale clouded yellow (Colias erate poliographys) – モンキチョウ

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys, モンキチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys, モンキチョウ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ) on a sunflower behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

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Common bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon nipponum) アオスジアゲハ

Common bluebottle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon nipponum, アオスジアゲハ) on the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

Common bluebottle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon nipponum, アオスジアゲハ) on the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

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Small white (Pieris rapae) – モンシロチョウ

Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) [?] along the Yasugawa riverbank in Moriyama City

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Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum) – キタテハ

Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) on Allium tuberosum flowers (ニラ, 韮) behind Sakura Ryokuchi Park in Minamizakura, Yasu City

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Common straight swift (Parnara guttata guttata) – イチモンジセセリ

Straight swift butterfly (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ) at the ground golf course near the JR train tracks in Moriyama City

Common straight swift butterfly (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

Common straight swift butterfly (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ) on a zinnia flower (Zinnia elegans, ヒャクニチソウ, 百日草) along Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Rokujizo, Ritto City

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Spangle (Papilio protenor) – クロアゲハ

Spangle [butterfly] (Papilio protenor, クロアゲハ) on red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

Spangle [butterfly] (Papilio protenor, クロアゲハ) on red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

Spangle [butterfly] (Papilio protenor, クロアゲハ) on red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Kamitoyama, Ritto City

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Notes

Please let me know if you see errors in the photo captions. I have only recently learned the names of some butterflies and flowers shown here.

Most photos were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera and an M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14. Usually I shoot with Auto-ISO in shutter priority mode. For wide-angle and medium shots I use a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX9 (Japanese-only version of LX10/LX15).

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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.