Omissions and risky commissions

| Apr 16, 2008

Omissions and risky commissions

For several years now I have been at work on a new book — to be titled “Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia” — that is due to be published later this year. You may think it would be an easy matter ...

Egrets' epitome of elegance

| Mar 19, 2008

Egrets' epitome of elegance

Late afternoon sunlight was slanting low, glinting like liquid gold, reflecting in the narrow strip of water between broad expanses of snow. A bugling flight of swans planed down on bowed wings, their white plumage appearing somehow creamy against the snowy backdrop as they ...

Snow season's not what it was . . .

| Jan 16, 2008

Snow season's not what it was . . .

“Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.” (Traditional proverb) It’s cold, but I feel the warming rhythm of my pace developing as I get into my stride. There is a mountain ahead and I have set my mind on reaching ...

There's no time like snow time!

| Dec 19, 2007

There's no time like snow time!

As much as I enjoy the rich biodiversity of the Tropics — as anyone who read my column here last month on the wildlife of Brazil will know — my favorite season is winter. Somehow it is in my blood. When temperatures start dipping ...

| Nov 21, 2007

Biodiversity to take your breath away

I promised that I would write more about my recent visit to South America, and as the first snows are now regularly dusting the mountains on view from my window here in Hokkaido — and even coating my balcony — it’s hard not to ...

Individual variations and a sense of identity

| Oct 17, 2007

Individual variations and a sense of identity

I have recently returned to Japan from five astonishing weeks in the neotropics. Exploring and observing the riches of Brazil’s Atlantic rain forest and Pantanal (the world’s biggest wetland area) has left me overwhelmed by their biodiversity. It seemed that no matter how many ...

Serendipity twice over

| Sep 19, 2007

Serendipity twice over

On a calm evening, I looked out from my balcony toward the mountains to the west, beyond Sapporo. Those distant peaks stretched in an apparently unbroken chain, from the gently sloping flanks of volcanic Mount Tarumae at the southernmost end, rising and falling northward ...

Bliss for a Lazy Birder

| Aug 15, 2007

Bliss for a Lazy Birder

Birders are often motivated by their species list — often something akin to their meaning of life. I’m a Lazy Birder — I knew I’d become one a few years ago, when I realized that my “bath list” was the most important to me. ...

Putting 'rarity' into context

| Jul 18, 2007

Putting 'rarity' into context

Stepping outside this morning, I heard a skylark singing above the open field adjacent to where I live. It’s a rare event for me, but perhaps you hear skylarks all the time. Then again, perhaps you have never heard that silvery cascade of notes ...