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Backyard Safari

Life in the rice paddies

You may have noticed that I often take photos of the rice fields; well this rice field is one of the main reasons why.


I pass this field every day on my way to work and even after almost a year of living here I find it incredibly beautiful with its backdrop Japanese houses and mountains. It changes with the seasons and the weather and always presents a new aspect that makes me smile as it comes into view.

I often pause on the way home and look at the fields and recently they’ve been full of life; I actually paused to try out my new camera by taking a photo of this (not so full of life) moth.


But under the surface there were so many things living there like these tadpoles and dragon fly lava.


I decided that one day I’d head out to a more secluded rice fields and see just how much life there is in the paddies. The perfect chance came up a couple of weeks ago when Haru was going away for a weekend spa trip with a friend and I free to do my own thing; so I kitted up and went hunting.


I chose a pair of fields fed with water from the hills via a big sluice gate. One side had been left to dry and was pitted with animal tracks, whilst the other side was still water logged and had a tree shaded stream running along its edge.


The drier side proved to be a hotbed of froglets still sporting stubs of tadpole tails; these will soon be the little frogs with sucker toes that climb the walls of my apartment building.


On the other side there were masses of larva for… well to be honest I’m not sure exactly, but I’m pretty sure these guys will turn into something that flies.


These on the other hand are destined to become crested newts I think.
(Edit: I've since been told that these are baby fire bellied newts NOT crested newts!)


There were also a quite a few fire bellied newts hiding in the stream.


First I returned everything to where I’d caught it.


Then I cycled off to check out a pond, which I’d spotted before but not investigated.




Once there I was greeted by a gaggle of mixed geese, ducks and other birds who obviously ‘owned’ the pond.


Moving past them I began to explore the reed chocked head of the pond which turned out to be full of crawfish basking in the shallows, which with a bit of difficulty I managed to net.



Despite looking quite delicious I let them go again and headed back to the rice fields for the best creature of the day – this little critter.


Which might not look like much with the camera flash illuminating it – but it’s quite impressive when it’s allowed to glow for itself.


Yes, it’s firefly season and these are the first fireflies I’ve ever seen. The fields where I started my safari are full of them twinkling in the dark, hovering over the stream and blinking their lights on the bushes and trees.

Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to get a good natural picture of them as the camera just doesn’t pick up their tiny lights. However, with about twenty of them in my bug box, a bit bit of patience, a mini tripod and a long exposure I managed to get these pictures.



That was a great way to end my backyard safari and I headed home happily, but there is a kind of footnote to this entry as I’ve been ‘bugging’ the science teacher in my school to do a bug hunt with me and the kids for some time now – and we finally got that arranged as well.

So, with the help of Kurumi Sensei and a friend of his who is an insect expert, we did set up a light trap after school one evening to see what we could catch. The results weren't as spectacular as as I had hoped, but it was an interesting experience and I had fun.


So, I'll leave you with some portraits the one bug I thought was so cool I took home and kept for a few days (but which has since been returned to the wild) - he is such an amazing blue and those antenna are just... WOW!


Next time: Optical illusions and some bigger, furrier beasts as we go to Wakayama for a weekend trip!

Posted by DKJM74 07:50

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