Book: “Beyond the Wonder: An Ecologist’s View of Wild Alaska”

Beyond the Wonder: An Ecologist's View of Wild Alaska by Thomas Bancroft

One of my charges at The Wilderness Society was to help bring a science component to our conservation work in Alaska. The landscape is wild and extensive but under many threats from development, climate change, and greed. We added an ecological and economic component to the excellent policy and advocacy work. I went to Anchorage … Read more

Olemut – The Giraffe

The word “Olemut” came as a whisper from the front, like that uncontrolled response one has to the unexpected, so I whipped around instantly, for Robinson, our guide, had been spotting things all morning, and no doubt something lurked in the bush. He had brought us through the gates into Nairobi National Park four hours ago, … Read more

The Undertaker Bird

A male Marabou Stork stands in the shallow water.

Three park rangers stood at the Y in the road, and our Landcruiser coasted to a stop. Our guide, Robinson, began talking with them in Swahili. The words were musical, crisp, and delightful to hear. I understood nothing. He handed them some papers, and I worried that something might be wrong. The one ranger stepped … Read more

Making a Connection

A dark bullet-like object shot across the road, it hesitated, and then dropped into the wildflowers. On the other side of some acacias, Yellow-necked Francolins were giving their “ko-waarrk” calls; loud, raucous, chicken-like. The songs of longclaws drifted from some grasslands in the distance, and a light wind rustled the acacia leaves. The clouds had filtered the … Read more

Red-collared Widowbird

A male Red-collared Widowbird looks over his left shoulder.

A long black tube-like bird came fluttering across the grasses. It seemed to be flying barely, flopping through the air, like a balance beam gymnast having trouble. “Can we stop?” I shouted to our driver. The slender shape was not quite vertical to the ground. I was standing in the back of a Landcruiser with … Read more

Two Bachelors on the African Plains

An Impala stares right at me in Nairobi National Park.

There, in the long green grass, stood two male impalas. Their curved horns rose several feet above their heads. With dark chestnut brown on their backs and a brownish white across their bellies, they blended into the savanna colors. Last night’s rain had slicked their fir down, but they showed no indication of being chilled. … Read more

Yellow-throated Longclaw: A bird of the East African plains.

 A bird flitted out of the long grass and landed at eye level in a dark-green bush. It glared right at me as I leaned out of the Landcruiser’s roof opening. Here was the meadowlark “look-a-like” that I’d ogled at repeatedly in the East African bird book. This individual had a black-V across its yellow … Read more

My First African Antelope

The sun was up but not showing through the clouds. The savanna in Nairobi National Park had taken on a soft green look, almost pastel in texture. It was 6:50 AM as we cruised slowly along a dirt track. Robinson, our guide, had raised the roof of his Landcruiser so we could stand and look … Read more

Yellow-billed Stork in Nairobi National Park

Only the base of the yellow bill showed above the water. The bird’s beak was pointing straight down, and it moved back and forth, latterly. A Yellow-billed Stork, my first ever sighting, was feeding in a small pond in Nairobi National Park. My brain wanted to study every detail of this bird, watch its behavior, … Read more


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