Tag Archives: Japan

Wildflowers and Insects

Here in Shiga Prefecture some wildflowers continue to bloom well into November. They attract a variety of flying insects, including butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies, and wasps.

On November 3, 2018, quite a few insects were feeding along an irrigation canal near rice and soybean fields near my home.

Common grass yellow butterfly (Eurema hecabe hecabe, キチョウ) on Allium pseudojaponicum (タマムラサキ)
Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) on a dandelion flower
Beet webworm moth (Spoladea recurvalis, シロオビノメイガ
Giant hoverfly (Phytomia zonata, オオハナアブ
Small branded swift butterfly (Pelopidas mathias, チャバネセセリ

Few insects visit tiny flowers such as henbit dead-nettle (ホトケノザ).

Henbit dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule, ホトケノザ) flower

Tall goldenrod (セイタカアワダチソウ) grows beside fields and along rivers and ponds. Many species of insects can be seen on goldenrod flowers.

Goldenrod flowers (セイタカアワダチソウ) in Tsuji, Ritto City
Goldenrod and other weeds along Yasugawa near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City

On November 5th, 6th, and 8th, I saw insects on tall goldenrod near the irrigation canal in Tsuji, the riverbank near the tennis courts in Yasugawa Athletic Park (野洲川運動公園), and along Oyamakawa (大山川) in Yasu City.

Harmonia axyridis (ナミテントウ, Asian lady beetle) in Tsuji, Ritto City. This ladybird has many color patterns and many English names.
Harmonia axyridis (ナミテントウ, Asian lady beetle) in Tsuji, Ritto City. This ladybird has many color patterns and many English names.
Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica, ニホンミツバチ)
Female Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン)
Female Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) on goldenrod along Oyamakawa in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Male Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City
Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

On November 16th a potter wasp was on tall goldenrod at the reservior near Ono Ramp in Ritto City.

Potter wasp on goldenrod flowers at the reservoir near Ono Ramp (小野ランプ) in Ritto City

Other flowering weeds compete with tall goldenrod. Bidens pilosa (beggar’s tick, コセンダングサ) yellow disc florets continue to attract bees and other small butterflies after the white ray florets fall off.

Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica, ニホンミツバチ)
Long-tailed blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus, ウラナミシジミ

Bidens pilosa fruits come off easily and attach themselves to clothing.

Bidens pilosa (beggar’s tick, コセンダングサ) weed along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

Other flowers have continued to bloom and attract insects in November.

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) along the road behind Sakura Ryokuchi in Minamizakura, Yasu City
Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City

After mid-November larger insects such as butterflies are becoming rare.

Small branded swift butterfly (Pelopidas mathias, チャバネセセリ) on a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, セイヨウタンポポ) in Hayashi, Ritto City


End of Summer

The last days of summer 2018 in Shiga Prefecture have been mostly cloudy, with quite a bit of rain and very little sunshine. Whenever it was not raining too hard, I went out with a camera most days September 11-19, 2018.

September 11 – insects in a garden, Yasugawa, nearby fields

Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ) in a neighbor’s garden attract many butterflies, moths, bees, and other insects.

Yasugawa has been running high but not at flood levels.

Late in the afternoon local farmers were hurrying to harvest their rice before rain the following day.

September 14 – Takano

As soon as the rain stopped in mid afternoon, I walked to Takano Park, just a few minutes from my house. Along the way neighbors’ flowers caught my attention.

In Takano Park a few small creatures appeared after the rain.

September 15 – Yasugawa riverbank, fields in Deba

Scilla scilloides flowers(Barnardia japonica, ツルボ) have begun to bloom along the Yasugawa riverbank. Other flowers grow nearby.

Great egrets and grey herons hunt for fish nearby in the river. Most days a few of these large birds can be seen in nearby fields.

September 16 – Yasugawa riverbank

In late afternoon I was able to take only a few photos along the river before I got rained out.

September 17 – Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden

Kusatsu City Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森) is one of my favorite places. It’s a short drive from my home and usually not too crowded.

On September 17th a large display of Canna flowers stood near the entrance in front of the fountain.

A large number of water lilies are in ponds,

an outdoor tank,

and the Atrium.

Quite a few flowers were blooming in various outdoor locations.

Giant Hibiscus ‘titanbicus’ were blooming near the entrance.

September 18 – Yasu City

The sun appeared now and then as I rode my mountain bike across the river to Yasu City and up Oyamakawa to Sakura Ryokuchi Park. Along the way I stopped to photograph red spider lilies along rice paddies.

September 19 – Rokujizo and Misono

Sunshine! I rode my mountain bike south from my home in Ritto City, first nearby to Rokujizo, where we can see several varieties of flowers in the neighborhood and along Hayamagawa.

Up the valley in Misono red spider lilies bloom along the terraced fields.

In Kamitoyama I saw some globe amaranth flowers in a small garden. As I was admiring the flowers, a painted lady butterfly appeared.

I often see a grey heron at Konzegawa in Misono on my way home. The bird ignores me when I pass along the bike path. If I stop nearby, it flies.

In late summer and early fall rural Japan changes dramatically. Various flowers bloom, colorful butterflies and moths become very active when the weather permits, and fields become empty as farmers harvest their rice. Sometimes it seems gloomy, but even when the sky is dark, there is always something to see if we take time to look closely.

Egret Rookery

Great egrets (ダイサギ), cattle egrets (アマサギ), and other birds nest in the woods at Hyozu Shrine (兵主大社) in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. I recorded the sounds of the rookery on Sunday, May 27, 2018, and posted a six-minute sample on radio aporee ::: maps and SoundCloud.

The woods are between a large shrine and Yasu City athletic facilities (野洲市中主B&G海洋センター). The white spots in the satellite image of the woods are egrets.

The recording location was not very photogenic. White bird droppings covered everything in the area. On the ground near the tree that held my recorder broken eggshells and a feather indicated young egrets above.

Eggshell below a great egret nest

Eggshell below a great egret nest beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Short feather below a great egret nest

Short feather below a great egret nest beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Nests and young birds were hidden in the treetops.

Egret nests and young great egrets (ダオサギ)

Egret nests and young great egrets (ダオサギ) in the woods beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Now and then an adult egret appeared, and I was lucky to see a cattle egret carrying a branch for a nest.

Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis, アマサギ)

Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis, アマサギ) in the woods beside Hyozu Taisha (兵主大社) in Gojo, Yasu City

Recording and post-processing

This recording was made with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Communications Clippy Stereo EM172 Microphone tied to a tree. Since I was near the south edge of the woods, I placed the mics placed slightly forward of center facing north.

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 and raised the overall volume. 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.

Crows along Yasugawa

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, I was cycling down the north bank of Yasugawa when I heard some noisy crows perched in nearby trees.

When I ride my touring bike, I carry a small audio recorder and microphones. For this recording I used a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and Clippy Stereo EM172 mics by FEL Communications Ltd. To mimic human hearing, a quasi-binaural sound image was made by placing the mics on either side of my bicycle handlebar bag. I prefer to use trees about the diameter of an adult human head, but I use the handlebar bag when I cannot find a tree.

Trek 520 touring bike with audio recorder and mics on handlebar bag in Yasu City

The Compass app on my iPhone shows the location, direction, and time.

Compass and geolocation app on bicycle handlebar bag in Yasu City

As we can see on the map, this location is between a river and near the edge of a suburban area. With aircraft overhead, vehicles on nearby roads, and rural and suburban human activities, this place is quite noisy, even on Sunday.

In everyday life we filter out much of the noise. When the crows are not so noisy, I suppose most people experience this environment as a peaceful and quiet little park, just as it appears in photographs.

Trek 520 touring bike in Yasu City

Trek 520 touring bike in Yasu City