| 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 ...

Relics of Ice Age Japan

| Aug 15, 2010

Relics of Ice Age Japan

Scrambling across hillsides may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we naturalists are determined folk and take such activities in our stride when exploring our environment. Take the average hillside or mountainside in Japan; what does it consist of? Usually, forested slopes on ...

Bathing in northern 'megaherbs'

| Jul 18, 2010

Bathing in northern 'megaherbs'

When I first visited New Zealand in 1994 I was impressed by its astounding landscapes — the stunning beauty of its landforms, coasts and islands. However, I was soon not so enamored of its much-publicized “clean green” image when I realized the incredible destruction ...

Flying high with alluring aosagi

| Jun 20, 2010

Flying high with alluring aosagi

A large dark shape flaps in a leisurely fashion on deeply bowed wings across a dark gray sky. It looks somehow lumpy, with very broad, rounded tips to its arched wings — and at a distance it appears like a large black “M,” but ...

Brace yourself — I did say 'cute'!

| Apr 18, 2010

Brace yourself — I did say 'cute'!

When did you last go out into the woods at night? In this age of media-induced fears, and with far more than half the world’s population now being urban- dwellers, fewer of us brave the outdoors even during daylight hours, let alone at night. ...

Savoring the beauty of winter's final fling

| Mar 21, 2010

Savoring the beauty of winter's final fling

An indefinable quality in the light somehow signals the air temperature. Airflows from the north and northwest have, for many days this late February just gone, kept Hokkaido frigid. An intangible crispness in the atmosphere combines with the luminosity to forewarn of seriously subzero ...