bee eater.

Lush, Lovely Langkawi

Backroads, sloughs and mudflats make for one happy naturalist. This week, I left the bustling, chaotic cities of Asia behind, and wandered through sloughs, alleys, back roads, mud flats and farms on the lush green island of Langkawi, Malaysia. It was a most welcome change. I’m finding the rich cityscapes of Asia absolutely fascinating, and just as exhausting. Whether it be the ultra-rich, ultramodern Singapore or Kuala […]

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Cairns: Strange Birds in a Strange Land

Continents are like people, I suppose. Leave them alone for long enough and they start to go a little crazy. Witness Australia: this remarkable land, once part of a vast supercontinent called Gondwana, has been left to drift on its own for millions of years… and what a strange diversity of life has arisen on this raft! From a single opossum-like ancestor has evolved everything […]

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Three Beautiful Boobies

Traveling by cruise ship is one of the best ways on earth to see some pretty cool wildlife. There’s a whole range of animals that you can only see at sea, and pelagic birds, in particular, are a real treat. Pelagic just means ocean-going; there’s a variety of birds that are practically never seen from land, unless you’re standing right on their breeding grounds. Albatrosses […]

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Sand goanna

Kissed by the Goanna Gods

A visit to Airlie Beach, Australia. I didn’t have high hopes for a visit to Airlie Beach, Australia. I wasn’t expecting to hate it; by all reports, this town on the Queensland coast was a beautiful spot. But most of the guidebooks describe it as a party town, a “drinking village with a sailing problem.” Alas, I feel I’m getting too old for that sort […]

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father and son

Fiji- The Indian Connection

Fiji’s natural and cultural history show a strong influence from the faraway subcontinent. Fiji is a jewel of a destination. Islands like these, in the far southwest Pacific, hardly seem real to Canadian eyes, with their jagged green mountain ranges sloping steeply downward into calm azure waters. Do people really live their lives in places like this, with such staggering beauty (and stifling heat?) Of course they […]

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rainbow lorikeet

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden

We went for the trees, we stayed for the birds. Arriving in Sydney, Australia by cruise ship is unforgettable. The journey takes you between the rugged cliffs of the outer harbour (“The Heads”) and into beautiful Sydney Harbour where you sidle up alongside the exquisite Sydney Opera House, to dock right at the Circular Quays in the heart of the city. (Rival city Melbourne can’t […]

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Sex and the Single Chickadee

I’ve been a naturalist long enough to know that as soon as you project human values on the animal world, it’s going to come back and bite you. Let’s face it: eagles are far from noble, no matter how much they look the part. Owls are no wiser than any other bird of prey, and swans are far less dignified than they seem, oinking and […]

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Don't leave home without your binos.

Nikon Monarch Binoculars: Replacing the Eye Cup

A couple of years ago, I damaged the right eye cup of my beloved Nikon Monarch birding binoculars. Ever since, I have been unable to adjust between naked-eye viewing (eyecup extended) and eyeglass viewing (eyecup retracted.) It was a pain in the butt—I switch between contacts and glasses all the time. Finally I got tired of procrastinating about it and decided to fix it, and […]

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