Tag Archives: Japan

Sounds of cicadas at the end of summer

Along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, cicadas dominate the soundscape in summer. In mid-September, before autumnal equinox, smaller insects join the chorus.

On 2017-09-15 the cicadas were very loud as I rode my mountain bike on a path through a grove of ornamental cherry trees between a small river and a residential neighborhood (radio aporee ::: maps – Omifuji, Yasu-shi, Shiga-ken, Japan).

Araya Muddy Fox mountain bike

Araya Muddy Fox mountain bike near the path along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City.

Audio recorder and microphones

Audio recorder and microphones on a cherry tree in the woods along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

A little before 13:00 I mounted a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Clippy EM172 mics on a tree trunk for quasi-binaural recording. The mics face northwest toward a busy two-lane road, Japan national route 8, with the river and farms to the right and a residential neighborhood to the left.

Audio recorder and microphones

Audio recorder and microphones on a cherry tree in the woods along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City

We can hear cars, trucks, agricultural machinery (rice harvester), and other human sounds, but the cicadas compete well and nearly drown out the songs of smaller insects. Soon the cicadas will fall silent, and we’ll wonder how another summer passed so quickly.

Red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花)

Red spider lilies (lycoris radiata, 彼岸花) along an irrigation canal in Mikami, Yasu City, Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background.

Uguisu (鶯)

On June 4, 2017, a quiet Sunday, I took a bike ride in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. On the way home I heard a Japanese bush warbler (uguisu, ウグイス, or 鶯).

I always carry a small audio recorder and a pair of Primo EM172 mics in my touring bike handlebar bag. The bird began was sing loudly as I rode into a wooded area, so I quickly leaned my bike against a small tree, attached the mics, and began to record.

Bike is parked in foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City. Audio recording of bird calls with Clippy EM172 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Trek 520 touring bike along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City

The uguisu (Japanese bush warbler) remained in dense foliage, and I never saw any of the birds we hear in this recording. (The photo at the top was taken in 2016.)

Foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City

This area was once a park. On weekdays dump trucks haul dirt and gravel nearby along the riverbank, but on weekends it’s very quiet, a nice place for leisurely cycling.

Foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City

Foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City

Location

The Compass app on my phone shows the direction and location of the stereo recording, but it is not accurate. The mics were aimed south, but the city is Yasu, not Moriyama, and maps coordinates were off by several hundred meters. An annotated paper map or an online map with a satellite image would be more accurate and useful.

Trek 520 touring bike parked in foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City. Audio recording of bird calls with Clippy EM172 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

This shows the location within the abandoned park.

Recording and post-processing

This method of quasi-binaural recording attempts to emulate human perception by placing the left and right mics on either side of a bicycle handlebar bag. It is not ideal, of course, but setup can be done very quickly. This recording was made with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and FEL Communications Clippy Stereo EM172 Microphone.

Trek 520 touring bike parked in foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City. Audio recording of bird calls with Clippy EM172 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Trek 520 touring bike parked in foliage along road in abandoned park in Ichimiyake, Yasu City. Audio recording of bird calls with Clippy EM172 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Audio post-processing was done with Audacity on Fedora Workstation, a GNU/Linux system running on a Lenovo ThinkStation 20 computer. I trimmed the recording from more than 20 minutes to 5:19 and normalized the gain. I did not add any filters, EQ, or compression.

This recording is also available on radio aproree ::: maps – sounds of the world.

Turtle Doves (キジバト) in Hatonomori Park

On May 28, 2017, a couple of Oriental turtle-doves (キジバト) were mating in Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園).

Earlier a solitary turtle-dove was high in a tree, calling to its mate.

Oriental turtle-dove (キジバト) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

As I was looking for small birds, my wife saw the two turtle-doves and called me. I saw them mating, but I was not able to get a clear view.

Oriental turtle-doves (キジバト) mating at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

By the time I found a place to take photos and video clips, the turtle-doves were taking turns grooming each other.

Oriental turtle-doves (キジバト) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

Oriental turtle-doves (キジバト) at Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (滋賀県 守山市 鳩の森公園)

While I was moving to another position, the two birds separated and then flew away.

The two turtle-doves appeared together for only a few minutes, but I was moved by their mutual affection as I watched them through the viewfinder.

Notes

Video was shot handheld with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk II camera and 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens with a 1.4x teleconverter.

Music in the video is from “Love Story” (piano) by Sławomir Zając, chafer on SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/chafer).

Post-processing was done with Kdenlive running on Fedora Workstation, a GNU/Linux operating system.

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.