Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy New Year -良いお年を

Every once in a blue moon, nature rewards the outdoor enthusiast with perfect conditions. It's a matter of probability, I suppose. If you make excursions three or four times a week like we do, sooner or later that perfect day is bound to happen. A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed one on Mt. Tenshu in the Kyushu Central Mountains, where we are continuing to explore obscure hiking trails. Seen from the highway on the approach, as a crystal clear day broke over the range, the higher ridges shone a brilliant white even before the sun was fully up. Likely, a fog had formed earlier in the calm, frigid night around the mountaintops; the supercooled water droplets then encased every tree branch and twig in a delicate layer of feathery rime. We expected an ice-cold soaking as the rime melted and fell on us during the day, but luckily the sky stayed brilliant blue, the winds remained calm, and temperature held low throughout. We enjoyed a full day of magic while also managing to hike nearly 20km of new trail.



Approach on the lower mountain. To link our hike into a loop, we followed a seldom-walked, badly eroded old looging railroad carved into the steep mountainside. アップローチ中、内大臣川の上での急坂にあった侵食した古い鉄道の跡を辿った。ちょっと危なくて難しいけど、車を置いた鴨猪川の谷からアクセスできるから便利でした。

This winter holiday, which for us starts today, we are heading back to the Central Mountains, as we did last winter. Somehow, these hills have cast a spell on us. We can't wait to get up at dawn every morning and play in the snow all day. At our home in Amakusa, snow is very rare indeed, and maybe as Canadians we unknowingly need some of the white stuff for our spiritual health. Be that as it may, we won't be around for a couple of weeks so Happy New Year everyone and we hope that you spend it in your own, fulfilling way.












Aquarium Update - Freshwater Goby

Here are a few pictures of our aquarium and its inhabitants. It's coming up to about a year and a half since the start of this aquatic world and things are going along fine with only a few minor problems. I am still fine tuning the growth of various species of plants before I make the final 'aquascape' design, maybe next year if I can find plants that grow together well and look interesting at the same time. Right now, although there is no aquascape, the tank is still nice to look at: a bright and green island of tropical jungle in our (otherwise) unheated living room.



One of our five Corydoras sterbai catfish takes a break from foraging along the tank's bottom. Its mouth is clearly well adapted for finding a morsel among the gravel pebbles.

This is the male of a pair of Papiliochromis ramirezi South American cichlids. Besides displaying bright colors, this fish is also the tank's most intelligent, reacting to our presence more than the other fish do.

A few months ago we added six transparent 'glass catfish', Kryptopterus bicirrhis. Visitors to our house are always surprised by this strange see-through fish. They are often secretive, hiding in the plants most of the day, but they emerge and become very active around midnight, just before the automatic feeder dispenses food, at which time they go into a feeding frenzy. Interestingly enough, if we remove the timer and feed by hand, they don't exhibit this behavior. Their internal clock seems to be more sensitive than the other fish. この体の透明「ガラスキャット」は、我が家を訪れる人が最も気をつきます。様子も行動も面白い魚で、普段水草の葉っぱの間に身を隠れるけど、餌タイマーが餌をやる時間の30分前外へ出て来て、餌が出るまでタイマーの下で待つ。他の魚より時の知識がよさそう。

Here is an interesting addition to the tank: a freshwater goby from Ishigaki Island in Okinawa. We brought a few baby fish back from our trip in a 500ml drink bottle, having captured them in a sandy creek estuary. Amazingly, all of them survived the journey; they are now about 5cm in size.

Their curious habits make these gobys interesting aquarium fish. We thought we were on to something, but a quick scan of the Internet shows that there are plenty of goby freaks already out there. Also interesting was the number and variety of colorful species they keep. Our gobies may belong to several species themselves, but we're pretty sure they belong to the genus Rhinogobius. Their particular coloration seems to be unique to Ishigaki Island. ネットに調べると「ヨシノボリ」と言う淡水のハゼの仲間です。(ハゼのいろんな種類を飼っている人もいる事でかなり驚いた。)行動の面白い魚なのでかなり好きになっている。

A little to either side of the abdomen the goby has a suction cup-like device with which it can adhere to the glass of the aquarium, as this one is doing. ヨシノボリは、おなかのところキスゴムみたいやつがあり、植物、石、水槽のガラスなどにくっ付く事が出来る。



Subscribe in a reader
[View Guestbook] [Sign Guestbook]