May 29, 2011

Serendipities at every turn on this island 'pearl'

The sound of Buddhist chanting grew louder as my travel companions and I entered the compound around the “temple,” where flickering torches lit the smiling faces of sedately circling monks as the warm tones of their voices carried through the impenetrable darkness on a ...

Japan's mammalian riches

| May 15, 2011

Japan's mammalian riches

I came across my first bumblebees of the season as they were busily draining the nectar from a broad swath of Blue Corydalis. The delicate flower stems nodding in a light breeze looked delightful in the sunshine, while above them frothy willow catkins were ...

The green heart of Tokyo

| Feb 20, 2011

The green heart of Tokyo

An unexpected whickering whistle had me mystified. I circled, trying to pinpoint the direction it was coming from, and puzzled over its origin. It became clear that its source was quite high in the trees. There was something vaguely woodpecker-esque about the ringing call, ...

A dream comes true with the blues

| Jan 16, 2011

A dream comes true with the blues

My last great wildlife adventure of 2010 began in darkness to the sound of waves crashing on an idyllic beach. My alarm woke me at 3:30 a.m. and, eager with anticipation, I rose quickly. Outside my guesthouse room, the swishing sound of a breeze ...

| Dec 19, 2010

The explosion of life: demise

Second of two parts I consider the British naturalist, writer and broadcaster David Attenborough (now Sir David) to be one of the greatest figures alive in terms of environmental conservation and education. Thanks to him, the beauty, mystery and excitement of the world’s natural ...

Brazil: the wild side

Dec 12, 2010

Brazil: the wild side

Statistics tell us one story of Brazil: It is the world’s fifth-largest country and South America’s largest by far, and it is an anomaly in being the only Portuguese-speaking nation on that continent. Brazil is home to the largest tropical forest on Earth and, ...

| Nov 21, 2010

The explosion of life: uprising

First of two parts I have a fascination for our natural world that has been with me since childhood, and I am inexpressibly fortunate in being able to travel — in part through work as a nature-tour guide — to see some of the ...

Biodiversity inspiration

Oct 24, 2010

Biodiversity inspiration

The value of biodiversity can be argued from various perspectives. Foremost, in practical terms, there’s its ecological service value, as we depend on it to provide us with breathable air, useable water and productive soil, for filtration of global gases and liquids, and as ...

Singing the praise of the silent majority

| Oct 17, 2010

Singing the praise of the silent majority

It is a peaceful autumn day here in Hokkaido; a Black-eared Kite banking, wheeling and gliding effortlessly on outspread wings just outside my workroom window tempts me out for a walk in Nopporo Forest near where I live. There, I stroll among trees that ...

Taking up residence uninvited

| Sep 19, 2010

Taking up residence uninvited

I could scarcely make out the small songbird moving secretively through the undergrowth in the gloom of the dark forest. Its calls were barely familiar to me and seemed so out of context that I didn’t recognize them at all at first. Then, by ...