Wild Watch

Japan’s efforts bring back ‘extinct’ species

Jun 7, 2014 Oriental stork 73; crested ibis 82; red-crowned crane 1,143; short-tailed albatross estimated 3,550. Those numbers of wild birds in Japan seem perilously low — and they are, especially when considered alongside the Japanese population of 126.75 million people — but in reality they are good news!...

Rhododendrons, azaleas: blooming marvels of the plant world

May 10, 2014 It seems that many of my natural-history musings revolve around unprocessed thoughts that emerge while I soak in some rural hot spring or other. I have watched mammals, birds and insects from the bath and, surprising though it may seem, I have even contemplated the behavior of plants while I have been enjoying a soak. Yes, I did say “behavior.”...

Swimming upstream to become a dragon

Apr 12, 2014 While shuffling back from my early-morning dip in a hot spring at Kambayashi Onsen, I noticed the fish in the garden pond. They had gathered, heads together, in a strange starlike cluster, as if for a piscine tête-à-tête. They were languorously wafting their tails slowly through the water as if barely alive....

Noisy bulbuls change with the seasons

Mar 8, 2014 On cold winter mornings the bulbuls come squawking their full-throated calls as they swoop onto bird-feeders, their white-tipped gray breast feathers appearing frosted by the chill....

Weather in Japan: from balmy to barmy

Feb 8, 2014 The division of Japan into distinct climatic zones means that anyone traveling around the country will normally encounter quite predictable demands in terms of clothing requirements; while for those in any one area the local weather forecast will be correct more often than not....

Seasons come and go - but when?

Jan 11, 2014 Another new year has arrived and a Hokkaido blizzard is tearing past my window, drifting snow onto every surface as if it means to drown out the world in whiteness. Thankfully it also brings a muffling silence into which thoughts pop and crackle....

Tales from on the trail of Okinawa's rail

Dec 7, 2013 Thirty-one years ago I set off on a quest to look for a species so rare that it seemed as mythical as a Phoenix. Not only was it almost unknown, but also the Okinawa Rail had only recently been discovered. It was, as reporters like to say, a species new to science. Nothing was known about its numbers, its distribution, its habitat or its behavior -...

Mammals choose when to reward my quest

Nov 9, 2013 My thoughts were miles away as I crossed the parking lot outside my Hokkaido home. Then a nagging doubt intruded: Had there — or had there not — just been a formless blur of movement on the ground beyond my car? I had certainly not seen anything, so if there had been something, then my awareness of it had been merely subliminal....

Just picture that - and know how to

Oct 12, 2013 It's one thing to be agog at nature's wonders, another to be able to share shots of them later on...

On the trail of the legendary Koryak reindeer herders

Sep 15, 2013 The dark herd rushed at the slope like a massive wave crashing ashore. Hitting the base of the steep escarpment they were momentarily lost from my viewpoint; they surged upslope, reemerging into view on the upper terrace as a thundering horde, the vibration of their cloven hoof beats discernible through the tundra turf and clearly audible. ...

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