Category Archives: wildlife

Into the Hong Kong Wild–brushes with Big Snakes and Spiders!

Hong Kong, with colours

Hong Kong, with colours (Photo credit: 2careless)

Hong Kong is wilder than anyone realizes.  Most visitors never get off of Hong Kong island and the concrete jungle.  But just a few steps out of Central is a real jungle (note the dark spaces in the photo right next to the skyscrapers–all trees and hills and trails!), and a subway ride away puts you close to where the last tiger in the territory was killed in the 1940s!

We moved to a part of Hong Kong that has easy access to some of the remaining open spaces (over 50% of Hong Kong is preserved land!) so that we could have a real jungle as an antidote

to the concrete jungle.  It’s been fun to explore the trails, bays, beaches and mountains of Sai Kung.

I have a small running group for Tuesday morning trail runs, Oliver from Germany  and Roman from France.  We head out very early so that we can be in to our offices by 9.  A couple of Tuesdays ago, we were headed down a jungle track with me in the front.

Orb Weaver on High Island, Sai Kung

Orb Weaver on High Island, Sai Kung (Photo credit: GlobalCitizen01

I was running along full speed when my face was enveloped in thick strands of spider web—the golden orb weaver, a spider with legs about twice as long as my fingers, didn’t appreciate the man-sized hole in his very sticky web, but fortunately I didn’t have to pull him off my face.  The other guys were laughing at me as I was coughing and frantically trying to get the web off and started up the trail—I shouted, “you guys are next!”

About a mile later, with me in the rear of the line now, I suddenly saw them doing what can only be described as Euro-techno dancing in front of me, both hollering a the top of their lungs in foreign languages.   Looking down, I managed to hop over the tail of a 10 foot long Burmese Python as it scooted across the trail trying to avoid the weird disco performance that it clearly had not evolved to deal with.   Roman immediately ran a new European 1500 meter record down the trail as Oliver and I struggled to keep up……..

Audience volunteers holding an adult Burmese p...

Audience volunteers holding an adult Burmese python. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

High Altitude Goats–or Escape from a Slippery Slope

The distribution of the Rocky Mountain goat (O...

The distribution of the Rocky Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), as indicated in Shackleton, D. M. [Editor] and the IUCN/SSC Caprinae Specialist Group. 1997. “Wild Sheep and Goats and their Relatives.” Status Survey and Action Plan for Caprinae. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK (see here). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mountain Goat

In Glacier one summer solstice.  I had 2 days to see the park before a conference in Kalispell, so I was doing 2 long trail runs a day into the more remote areas of the park.  On the first day, in the southeast section, I hit Dawson Pass at around 10am and had planned to traverse around a mountain to Cut Bank and Pitamakan Passes into Dry Fork valley that would take me back to the car, but I couldn’t find the trail for all of the snow.

I started following what looked like a trail on a shelf, and what I thought were human footprints.  Pretty quickly I realized that these were mountain goat* tracks and the shelf ended.  I knew from the map that I was headed in the general direction so I kept going.  As I rounded the next high alpine ridge two things happened, the slope got a lot steeper and I saw the maker of the footprints about 100 yards ahead of me—a very large, male goat that looked back at me as if to say, “this way, dummy.”   Walking on hard pack snow with hiking boots on the flats is one thing, but running shoes and 50 degree slopes without ice axes is another thing entirely.

It seemed like I had made it through most of the really steep stuff, though, and the guy with 4 cloven hooves just kept moseying along with the occasional toss of the head to me to keep moving.  Had I fallen, what was left of me, 4000 feet below, probably wouldn’t have been found for years, as no one knew where I was, and no one was expecting me anywhere for a couple of days (this sort of situation helps to focus the mind…….)  But the goat was right, as I rounded another ridge, the pass was right up ahead.  He wondered onto a grassy ledge above and watched me head down the valley.  I nodded my thanks.

*Turns out the Mountain Goat isn’t a goat at all–but rather a relative of the asian antelope family.   Truly a beautiful and unique species.