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 ...

Worlds of nature are just a click away

| Jun 16, 2005

Worlds of nature are just a click away

Although I’ve only just packed away my skiing gear (the remnant snowfields have crept too close to the peaks to make the physical cost of carrying heavy boots and skis so far uphill worth the downhill benefits), and though mountain cherry blossoms have only ...

Birders' islet of delights

| May 19, 2005

Birders' islet of delights

The last month has been one of considerable atmospheric variety here where I live in Hokkaido, with laggardly spring weather lapsing back to winter sunshine and warmth, then being followed by snow and cold winds. It has been playing havoc with blossoming times, bumblebee ...