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)

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.

Little Egrets (コサギ)

Little egrets (コサギ) in December

In Shiga Prefecture, Japan, most egrets and herons fly south in mid-autumn. Only a few a few remain, including several little egrets in locations that I often visit. One stays in Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園), and several can be seen along Oyamakawa in Yasu City (滋賀県 野洲市 大山川). On December 21 and 22, 2017, I shot video clips of one feeding in each location.  (See Notes below.)

Both little egrets shake their legs and shuffle their feet to drive small fish and other aquatic animals from vegetation in shallow streams. This hunting method is used by other species of egrets, and it seems to work. These birds ate well.

Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

The little egret at Hatonomori Park usually perches on trees in a pond. The bird appears at the pond nearly every time I visit.

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (Egretta garzetta, コサギ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (Egretta garzetta, コサギ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (Egretta garzetta, コサギ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (Egretta garzetta, コサギ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Little egret (Eコサギ)

Little egret (Egretta garzetta, コサギ) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Oyamakawa near Sakura Ryokuchi (滋賀県 野洲市 さくら緑地)

At Oyamakawa in Yasu City I have seen at least two little egrets.  The one in the video was in Omifuji. I often see another one upstream in Kitazakura near Sakura Ryokuchi Park. This bird is very shy.

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at Oyamakawa in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at Oyamakawa in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Once I saw it fly some distance to an electrical tower. As it landed, two crows flew away but soon returned. After a few seconds the little egret took off, and a crow chased it back down to the riverbank.

Little egret (コサギ)

Little egret (コサギ) at an electrical tower in Kitazakura, Yasu City

We can see the intensity of bullying that crows can inflict on little egrets in a short clip that I shot. Sorry, it’s very rough and unedited, directly from the camera.

At the beginning if winter few egrets and herons remain in this part of Shiga Prefecture. I hope this winter will be good to our resident birds.


Notes

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.

November photos

In November, 2017, I took several thousand photographs in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. I uploaded several hundred of them to my Flickr Photostream. A few of the better ones are among my photos on 500px.

This selection of November photos is in reverse chronological order without any attempt to group them by subject.

To see my photos more often, please follow me on Twitter or see my Flickr Photostream.