The two-week period of February 4-18 marks the beginning of spring, Risshun (立春) in the traditional Japanese calendar of 24 seasons. In southern Shiga Prefecture winter birds are still here, often hiding in bushes and trees as raptors patrol the skies. Sparrows are active in fields, and great cormorants return to local colonies. Pink and white Japanese plum blossoms (梅の花) bloom, attracting birds and a few bees and other flying insects.
Many days are still cold and gloomy, but Japanese plum blossoms and the wild creatures that visit them reassure us that spring is on its way.