Wild Watch

Trekking back in time among Okinawa's fronded wonders

Aug 17, 2013 A heavy fog hangs around the forested area of Yambaru in the northern hills of Okinawa. On this rainy-season morning in June, there’s a steady dripping all around, though what I can see of the sky is cloudless. Instead, this “rain” is droplets that the trees have garnered into their canopies from the clouds, and which they are now dispensi...

Building a case for birds

Jul 20, 2013 Many people would consider Stonehenge in southwest England or the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt — which both date from around 4,600 years ago — among the crowning glories of human achievement. ...

Cycads: 'living fossils' with a deadly twist

Jun 16, 2013 Almost two months after revelers in most of Japan began partying beneath cherry blossoms in mid-March this year, we hardy northerners in Hokkaido were still waiting patiently for warm zephyrs to waft in with a late promise of spring. ...

Dwarf bamboo's no pushover whatever the season

May 19, 2013 An unseasonably cold spring wind blasts in from the north shaking all before it. Oak trunks tremble; mast-like young white birches sway alarmingly and ineffectively rattle their branches at it. Buildings even shudder at the wind’s assault. Slender, elegant bamboos sway, bow and bend, as if wave-washed by the same invisible force. The sound of the...

Nature art: It's in the 'I' of the beholder

Apr 21, 2013 When a thing of beauty is perceived, the observer experiences some kind of a reaction; but what defines “beauty”? Is it art? ...

Ski sortie takes a shrewd turn for the cuter

Mar 17, 2013 It was cold and snowing and my mind was far away: I was already imagining returning to the warmth and color of the indoors after this, my latest winter sortie outdoors. It was only the rhythm of my skiing that was keeping me on track and bound for home. ...

Dancing Demoiselles of the desert

Feb 17, 2013 In a dry, dusty, desert landscape, the clamoring of cranes seems so surprising. I am used to the great winter assembly of more than 10,000 cranes in Kyushu at Izumi, where they congregate on winter-fallow rice fields; and I regularly frequent the winter gatherings of Red-crowned Cranes in snowy eastern Hokkaido. I have dreamed, too, of witnessing t...

Impossible forests where tides ebb and flow

Jan 19, 2013 A ripple flows gently inland across an expanse of dark-gray mud. It washes in, then drains back, dampening the surface; it briefly fills, then empties from, tiny holes made by innumerable small crabs. The ebb is over, and the flow tide has begun. ...

Beware: Devil birds at work in the woods

Dec 16, 2012 The final months of the year seem something of an afterthought following the delightful palette of autumn colors; they offer only fickle moods and fickle weather. ...

The little 'black bird' is a hit, from Liverpool all the way to Asia

Nov 18, 2012 It is 50 years this year since the best-selling band in history, The Beatles, released their first single, “Love Me Do.” They were set to catapult Britain into the Swinging ’60s and launch a global musical phenomenon. ...

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