Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer in Ibaraki

Moss & Pines

A dragonfly takes a break


The 7:20PM Spider


"Hanabi" by the Mito River

Mt. Tsukuba on an overcast day

A turtle in the Tsuchiura Palace moat


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cicada's, Starling's, Summer!

With the rise in summer temperature, Tsukuba seems to be teeming with life!

The first time I noticed it was on my way to the municipal swimming pool, under the trees overlooking the bus-stop at Tsukuba Centre. The first sign was noise that sounded like a busy construction site and it turned out to be just a major convention of birds!

From where did they suddenly appear? Why were they all converging only a certain type of tree - was it for food? But there was no sign of seeds or fruits on the trees...My Japanese Sensei, who happened to be passing by, said that the birds are called Mugidori. I looked this up and it turns out that the common name is "Grey Starling".

And then, the Cicadas. In the woods surrounding Ichinoya they make such a huge racket in the evening that your ears begin to hurt unless you move away from the trees.

At the central library, there are instruments monitoring the disturbance caused by construction activity, and the the occasional crash of building material the noise level goes up to 75dB. Just outside the library, the cicadas are creating nearly double that sound by just by just rubbing their legs against abdominal plates (120 dB)!

If Cicadas and Starlings are congregating on the trees, another group of birds had taken over the skies in the evening. Just as the setting sun was turning the clouds into various hues of pink and while airplanes glinted high above the clouds, massive swarms of birds whirled in the skies. Numbering in thousands, these birds swoop & dive, separate & converge on such a scale that from afar, they look like massive amoebic forms in the skies...

What is the advantage of moving in this way? Is it to feed on insects flying high above? But then why would insects want to fly at that height? Is it some kind of ritual for selecting mates?