| Nov 21, 2010

The explosion of life: uprising

by Mark Brazil

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 ...

Taking up residence uninvited

| Sep 19, 2010

Taking up residence uninvited

by Mark Brazil

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

by Mark Brazil

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'

by Mark Brazil

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 ...

Savoring the beauty of winter's final fling

| Mar 21, 2010

Savoring the beauty of winter's final fling

by Mark Brazil

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 ...

Singing the praises of sparrows

| Feb 21, 2010

Singing the praises of sparrows

by Mark Brazil

In a rush of small wings, a fluttering, chirruping, congregation of familiar birds — Eurasian tree sparrows — descended on the bush in front of me. They chattered noisily among themselves, each shifting its position almost constantly as if unsure whether it had the ...

Tuning in to Alaskan bears

| Dec 20, 2009

Tuning in to Alaskan bears

by Mark Brazil

With temperatures falling steadily, amazing things are happening in the natural world. Among plants, insects, birds and mammals there are so many different strategies for coping with the cold season that my head spins trying to grasp them all as wildlife sightings change week ...