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 ...

Autumn sees predators in action

| Oct 19, 2005

Autumn sees predators in action

The hunters are abroad! Every day, now, the sparrow hawks, goshawks, honey buzzards, ospreys and falcons that summer in Northeast Asia are migrating out of the region. As cooler weather approaches and prey numbers decline, these predators head south for the winter. Soon, almost ...

Taking it slowly to savor eco-exploring

| Sep 14, 2005

Taking it slowly to savor eco-exploring

These days, “eco” has become something like a random, loosely attached, brand name. Not associated with any particular company, nor with any particular product, eco — which “Webster’s” defines as a combining form meaning “environment or habitat” — is applied seemingly indiscriminately. Yet, though ...

What a curious wonder the walrus is

| Aug 18, 2005

What a curious wonder the walrus is

The walrus is a peculiar, even comical, creature — and not only in Lewis Carroll’s 1872 poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” “The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes / and ships / and sealing-wax / Of ...

Birds of no feather

| Jul 21, 2005

Birds of no feather

It’s a strange fact but true, that if you hike regularly in the Japanese mountains, you’ll see some amazing sights — and I don’t mean just magnificent scenery. Up there, you’ll find folk hiking without water bottles, peak-baggers wearing training shoes, even ladies in ...