Slugs, snails and astonishing tales

| Jul 15, 2012

Slugs, snails and astonishing tales

Late last month, I arrived at my friends’ house in the historic southwest English town of Stroud a little too early, only to find both Ian and Caroline Redmond out. So, with time on my hands, I wandered into their lovely garden on the ...

Rock on down to a geopark near you

| Jun 17, 2012

Rock on down to a geopark near you

To naturalists and hikers, the renown of 810-meter Mount Apoi near the southern tip of Hokkaido towers mightily above its lowly elevation. For the view alone it offers of the Pacific coastline south to spectacular Cape Erimo, it’s worth the easy trek up this ...

The wonder of feathers

| May 20, 2012

The wonder of feathers

A soft flake of seeming sky falls, wafts and floats earthward catching the light. Lightly, and soft as gossamer, it lands to add a splash of color to the greenery of spring. It may be no more than a tiny feather that’s fallen from ...

Wild Watch turns 30 this month

| Apr 15, 2012

Wild Watch turns 30 this month

As April 2nd’s 30th anniversary of my first Wild Watch column in The Japan Times neared, I was in India — teeming Delhi to be precise, with its cacophony of people, honking traffic and barking dogs, though a tailorbird would stop and call outside ...

Birds of a feather

| Mar 18, 2012

Birds of a feather

A crescent moon is just visible through the treetops, with Venus, Jupiter and Saturn aligned diagonally above it crisp and clear in a frost-sharpened sky — planetary heralds of the peppering of stars soon to be revealed as night falls. The mercury is plummeting ...

An ode to Japan's magnificent Sika Deer

| Feb 19, 2012

An ode to Japan's magnificent Sika Deer

Deep powdery snow is to a Sika Deer what a stage covered with fluffy feather pillows would be to a top-ranking ballerina. Both lead to loss of grace and floundering, for slim-footed deer and ballerina alike. Where narrow-hooved deer sink and flounder in snow, ...

Sealing a connection with nature

| Jan 15, 2012

Sealing a connection with nature

The cliff-ringed cape known as Notoro Misaki stands as a massive natural breakwater west of the city of Abashiri in northeastern Hokkaido, sheltering it from some of the might of the ocean. Under a summer sun and a vast near-cobalt sky, the white-flecked, blue-green ...

There's more to Christmas colors than meets the eye

| Dec 18, 2011

There's more to Christmas colors than meets the eye

The rotenburo (outdoor hot spring) that I most regularly frequent creates an excellent illusion of there always being a full moon bathing in its glow those soaking beneath. The careful (or perhaps coincidental?) placing of a pale-yellow dome light that shines through a gnarled, ...

Sarobetsu's a stopover to count on for wonders

| Nov 20, 2011

Sarobetsu's a stopover to count on for wonders

Gray predawn light suffuses the eastern horizon before crawling slowly across the landscape — but not before a rich clamoring reaches my ears. The swans are waking, and they are in earnest about moving on. The clamoring is their alert to one and all ...

In the wake of the Vikings

Nov 13, 2011

In the wake of the Vikings

At both its western and eastern extremes some 10,700 km apart in France and the Russian Far East respectively, the great, fused supercontinent of Eurasia breaks into fragments, into not quite matching fringes of islands. In the east, there are the likes of Hainan, ...