Tag Archives: wildlife

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

Little egret hunting in a canal

On October 14, 2017, I saw a little egret in the canal that runs around my neighborhood. It was hunting by shaking a leg to drive prey from vegetation in the shallow water. As I was returning on foot from a long photo walk, my camera was ready. I was able to shoot a few minutes of video before the bird walked away up the canal.

I also took several photos, but still photography cannot show the egret’s quick leg movements.

Little egret (コサギ) in the canal at the northeast corner of Hayama Danchi in Ritto City

Little egret (コサギ) in the canal at the northeast corner of Hayama Danchi in Ritto City

Little egret (コサギ) in the canal at the northeast corner of Hayama Danchi in Ritto City

Little egret (コサギ) in the canal at the northeast corner of Hayama Danchi in Ritto City

Little egret (コサギ) in the canal at the northeast corner of Hayama Danchi in Ritto City

Notes

Video and photos were shot hand-held with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and a 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens.

Music: “Pennywhistle” by Jason Shaw at AudionautiX.com, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Video was edited with Kdenlive on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation.

This video is also available on YouTube.

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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Videos of small creatures with a compact camera

At the beginning of summer, 2017, I bought a little Panasonc LUMIX DMC-LX9 compact digital camera. This model has a flip-up LCD screen and enables extreme closeups with a large aperture and a wide-angle view. I have using it mostly for general photography, especially while cycling. As I had hoped when I bought it, works very well for closeup shots of small creatures.

Caterpillar in Hayashi

Closeup of a caterpillar on a sidewalk along a country road in Hayashi, Ritto City (map). Video was shot just before sunset on 6 July 2017. Music: “Before Dawn” by Jason Shaw at AudionatiX Music License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-A) 3.0

Inchworm along a forest road

Closeup of an inchworm at a bridge on a forest forest road in Bodaiji, Konan City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (map). Video was shot while mountain biking on 15 July 2017.

Shield bug (stinkbug)

Finally, an unpublished clip of a shield bug (カメムシ, 亀虫) at Kashiho Shrine (上葦穂神社) in Kojibukuro, Konan City (map). I discovered the shrine while I was cycling. As was leaving, I noticed this bug in the grass beside the parking lot. I followed it until it flew away. Later I trimmed heavily to remove most of the scene that was out of focus.

Technical notes

This little camera seems to work very well for closeup video of small creatures. To do extreme closeups I zoom out to the widest angle (30mm full-frame equivalent). Depending on the background, I set the aperture somewhere between f5.6 and f1.4. For small insects I must get very close. In fact, the inchworm in the video above actually hit the lens! This camera will not work well with small creatures that are shy. For shy creatures such as butterflies we can get better results with a close focus telephoto lens on a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

I have not done any color grading because I like the natural colors of the raw clips from the camera. I do all post-processing with free/libre and open-source software (FLOSS) on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I trim some clips with FFmpeg and edit with Kdenlive. I use the video editor to trim and join clips and to add titles and sound (music for the caterpillar video).

This little camera has features that I have not yet exploited. I have been shooting full HD (1920×1080) in aperture priority mode and continuous focus tracking. In the future I may shoot 4K video and try various settings; however, my present point-and-shoot style seems to work well. I have to hold the camera very close the the ground, which become difficult, so I may add a bracket or a cage to hold the camera. For more sophisticated editing and color grading I can use professional software such as Da Vinci Resolve by Blackmagic Design.

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.