Dapper black-and-white razorbills (at right) and bright-beaked puffins (at left and in air, at center) find a haven on the Shiant Islands, just a few miles southeast of Lewis. Nearly 8,000 razorbills and more than 200,000 puffins are estimated to use these islands as their breeding grounds each year.
At a breeding facility in Indonesia, baby green tree pythons (Morelia viridis) cling to perches that substitute for branches in their native tropical forests. Seen here at about eight inches long, each snake will grow to several feet and will likely turn a shade of green—though a few retain their yellow hue or even change dramatically to colors such as sky blue. For snake collectors around the world, captive-bred animals offer a sustainable alternative to those taken from the wild.
Tangles of seaweed lure a flock of sheep from Iona's green slopes down to the beach for a mineral-rich graze. In Gaelic this stretch of coast is called Camas Cùil an t-Sàimh, the "bay at the back of the ocean."
In Kallang Riverside Park swirls of color trace the flight paths of remote-controlled kites equipped with LED lights. Members of the Singapore Night Flyer Kite Club meet here to enjoy the unique aircraft, which were invented in 2000 by native Michael Lim. "This is some kind of new nightlife," he says, "much healthier than computer games."
Arrayed in battle formation, rows of life-size terra cotta soldiers form an advance guard facing east, the direction from which future enemies—conquered states, most likely—would attack. Qin Shi Huang Di, China's first emperor, was right to be worried about what might happen after he died. His unified state disintegrated, and rebels defaced his replica army, making off with bronze swords and other weapons many of the figures carried.
The last St. Kildans abandoned their stone-walled homes at Village Bay nearly 80 years ago. The oldest archaeological finds suggest that people began visiting this isolated and storm-battered little group of islands 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
A curtain of mist and some 2,000 years separate the modern-day islanders whose homes cluster nearby from the Iron Age builders of the Dun Carloway broch on Lewis. Nearly 50 feet across, the remains of the double-walled, drystone fort stand almost 30 feet high. Scholars believe that the prestige of living in these commanding structures may have been as important to the families that built them as the physical security they offered.
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