Flourishing on nutrients few

| Aug 16, 2006

Flourishing on nutrients few

As the heat and humidity of summer build up, my favored relief is to head for the hills. Last weekend I even managed to slide down a snowbank, and that really cooled me off! Snow lingers late in the higher mountains here in Hokkaido ...

Home comforts in a natural idyll

| Jul 19, 2006

Home comforts in a natural idyll

It’s 07:30 and I’m just back from hiking to the 1,860-meter summit of Mount Yashigamine, having set out at 4 a.m. and been soaked to the skin in the rain along the way, and I am slipping into a welcoming hot bath — squeezing ...

Surprise sightings waiting to be made

| Jun 21, 2006

Surprise sightings waiting to be made

As a child I dreamed of watching wild creatures, and especially mammals, but with no relatives or friends to learn from, I was left to my own devices to find ways to do so. Youthful interests tend toward the energetic, so it was by ...

Mud, mud, glorious mud

| May 17, 2006

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Loss: That sense of deep detachment when a loved one has departed; the bewilderment and displacement at finding something or somewhere treasured to have gone; the confusion of returning to one’s childhood haunts only to find them changed beyond recognition. We have, no doubt, ...

Birds' amazing 'tweezers'

| Apr 19, 2006

Birds' amazing 'tweezers'

The chances are that you are reading this while holding The Japan Times in one or both hands. Alternatively you may be reading online after having tapped on various keys with your fingers to make images appear before your eyes. Either way, manual dexterity ...

What's making a noise in the woods?

| Mar 15, 2006

What's making a noise in the woods?

The cherry blossom wave has begun its annual northward sweep through the country, island-hopping up the archipelago from Okinawa in the wake of the delicately blossoming plum. As those fragile tree blossoms presage spring, so various resident birds, fine-tuned to the subtly lengthening hours ...

Underwater walker beggars belief

| Feb 15, 2006

Underwater walker beggars belief

The winter’s snow gathers first as a dusting on the riverside vegetation. The wiry dwarf bamboo bows slowly under the accumulating blanket; shrubs and bushes disappear beneath duvet-like domes of crisp whiteness. The surrounding Hokkaido forest becomes hushed; the trees white-coated, their branches laden ...

Half-truths to the aid of conservation

| Jan 18, 2006

Half-truths to the aid of conservation

Let’s just imagine for a moment that you are a conservationist. You discover, or become aware of, the breeding location of a rare mammal or bird, or of a site where there is an endangered plant growing. What do you do? There are two ...

Taking delight in decomposition

| Nov 16, 2005

Taking delight in decomposition

The autumn carpet of leaves along woodland and mountain trails deepens as each breath of wind spins more and more foliage from the trees and sends flakes of colors whirling across the landscape. Storms rip whole canopies of leaves away, snapping off branches and ...