Ancient birds, Stone Age music

| Mar 17, 2005

Ancient birds, Stone Age music

All winter long, the cacophony of sound at Sunayu, on the eastern shore of Lake Kussharo in eastern Hokkaido, is almost entirely comprised if the bugling and whooping of swans. There, Whooper Swans crowd into the narrow ice-free strip along the lake edge where ...

Natural numbers games

| Feb 17, 2005

Natural numbers games

As island nations go, I have always maintained that Japan sits on a motherlode of biodiversity; it is rich in so many senses of the word. That seems fair enough, Japan is an extraordinary place; it comprises a diverse array of island groups within ...

Serendipities abound in a wintery wonderland

| Dec 16, 2004

Serendipities abound in a wintery wonderland

Recently I spotted a Quetzal from Central America, a Snowy Owl from the Arctic, a Short-tailed Albatross from a remote Pacific island — and a hovering Skylark. Amazingly they were all together, along with woodpeckers and barbets, thrushes and flycatchers, finches, frigate birds, other ...

On the woodland trail of sprites and fungal delight

| Oct 21, 2004

On the woodland trail of sprites and fungal delight

Common sounds in the hill forests of northern Japan these days are the thin “tsiping” calls of Black-faced Buntings elusively flitting through the dwarf bamboo, as enormous numbers of them head south to milder climes. Meanwhile, higher up in the canopy, amid the calls ...

The changes that come what may

| Sep 16, 2004

The changes that come what may

The arrival of just one dramatic, even devastating, typhoon, storming to the center of the seasonal stage like a massively overblown diva with a case of bad timing, is enough to signal autumn is on its way. This year the global signs of the ...

Down in the grim intertidal zone

| Aug 19, 2004

Down in the grim intertidal zone

A coffee-shop friend of mine recently summed up his appreciation of our local lowland forest just outside Sapporo, saying: “You know, it’s wonderful here; every season is the best season.” And, you know, he has a powerful point. I believe, though, that it is ...

'Hideous alien' had an exotic past

| Jul 15, 2004

'Hideous alien' had an exotic past

Sometimes accidentally, sometimes to order, we humans transport a bewildering array of species about the world. Many of them wither under the regimens of their new environments; alas, some thrive to the detriment of the locals. A beloved native in one part of the ...