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 ...

Gone are the geysers of Kamchatka

| Jun 20, 2007

Gone are the geysers of Kamchatka

If a trip to the Valley of the Geysers on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Siberia had been figuring among your long-term travel plans, then I have sad news to impart. Just as I had finished my column that was intended to occupy this space, ...

Seasons seen out of sync

| May 16, 2007

Seasons seen out of sync

I really thought I had missed out on spring this year. Having left Hokkaido when it was still blanketed with snow, I then spent a prolonged spell in South America before island-hopping across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It all left me overly warm ...

Cuteness belies killers' true nature

| Apr 18, 2007

Cuteness belies killers' true nature

Movement in the snow; the surface bulges, bursts, and out pops a creamy-faced creature with round black eyes like tiny beads and a stare that seems to say “I can kill.” Powder snow dusts its head as it looks around. Then it’s gone, like ...

Viewing nature in the best possible way

| Mar 21, 2007

Viewing nature in the best possible way

Ibegan writing natural history notes back in 1968; the immature handwriting in my first dogeared notebook is a reminder that then I was just a lad of 13. I was growing up in semi-rural Worcestershire in central England, and that was the year when, ...