Peculiar Pizote

Peculiar Pizote – Photograph by Laura Lecce

There are so many animals that I meet on my travels that I didn’t know existed. This pizote was one such animal that I had never heard of until I met this gorgeous creature in Costa Rica. It is also known as a coati and belongs to the same family as raccoons. They are omnivores with a diet of insects, small vertebrates and fruits. Like raccoons they will scavenge through the trash to find something to eat and seem to be quite used to human encounters. They are quite intelligent and have even been kept as domestic pets. This particular pizote seems to have learned that approaching the side of a car may result in being fed, however, on this particularly rainy day he was out of luck.

For other Costa Rican animals please click here.

Friday Flower – Brassia orchid

Brassia orchid – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This beautiful Brassia orchid is one of my favorites because it possess so much character. Every Spring it sends out a long flower spike with numerous colorful and fragrant flowers each with their very own unique and bold pattern (if you look close enough you will see that every splash of brown is a slightly different shape). These orchids which are mostly native to Mexico and Central America are also called spider orchids because their long thin petals resemble spider legs. If you need to be convinced – click here for my post on the St Andrews Cross spider. Have a happy weekend everyone!!!

Friday Flower – Jelly bean succulent

Jelly bean succulent – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Succulent sedum rubrotinctum is native to Mexico and a very lovely addition to any succulent garden. It displays lovely green jelly beans along each branch for most of the year except in summer to early spring when it gets a bit more sun it will blush a delicate red. Like most succulents, each individual segment (or bean) can fall off (or be picked off) and will grow roots and a brand new succulent when it touches the soil. The branches of this succulent grow upwards towards the sun and when they become long and heavy enough they will cascade over the side of a pot. For some creative succulent photography (and provided you don’t mind sacrificing your succulent for the sake of a photo) I sprayed this succulent branch with hairspray first to give it a lovely glossy shine. Happy weekend everyone!

For other succulent posts please click here.

A stony-faced stare

A stone-faced stare – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Would you even know you were looking at one of the worlds most venomous fish? Anyone would be grumpy with a face like this one. This is a stonefish and as you can imagine is easily stepped on by people due to the fact that it is not easily distinguished from its surroundings. The venom from this fish is extremely painful and can be lethal, so of course (like most venomous things) it lives in waters around Australia. If you are unfortunate enough to be stung by this fish, heat treatment of the site can be used to destroy the venom. For more severe cases antivenom is administered. The moral of this story is that when snorkeling do not pick up or touch anything….. even something as harmless looking as a stone can kill you.

For other snorkeling posts please click here.

Showmanship is everything

The proudest peacock – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I had never really imagined what it would be like to meet a peacock, perhaps because I never thought I would ever actually meet one. However this beautiful male was strutting his stuff in a park in Malaysia and putting on the performance of a lifetime for anyone who was interested in watching. They are a fairly large bird, perhaps the size of a turkey, but with over 200 tail feathers extended they are about 6 feet (2 meters) wide. In the world of birds there is certainly a lot of pressure placed on males to outperform competing males with brighter colors, more feathers, and complex mating dances. Female peahens will prefer a male with  larger sized and greater number of eye spots, as this will likely result in larger and fitter peachicks. One stunning male will have a harem of rather plain looking females and will play no role in raising the young. This is probably for the best as it helps the well camouflaged females raise their young by safely blending in with the scenery.

For other bird posts please click here.

When science mimics nature

Science mimics nature - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Science mimics nature – Photograph by Laura Lecce

For this Friday instead of a flower I wanted to show you this photo I took of a brittle winter shrub I came across in Utah. I was attracted to the geometry of the branches, the different layers of focus and the contrasting segments of color that come together to form a very beautiful abstract image. Many things that scientists do can resemble this kind of picture. Some examples are the drawings of chemical structures consisting of different atoms and their bonds, or cells branching out to each other in a culture dish. This kind of picture reminds me that nature, science and art are intricately linked. I hope you can also appreciate the beauty in each of those. Happy weekend everyone!

Friday Flower – Frangipanis in baby pink

Frangipanis in baby pink - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Frangipanis in baby pink – Photograph by Laura Lecce

One thing I miss since moving to New York is the sweet smell of frangipanis. In Australia they grow in abundance in all but the colder cities and the flowering season goes for months. There are close to 300 different colors of frangipanis and all are incredibly beautiful. These trees make their own perfectly arranged bouquet of flowers at the end of each branch. The flowers are so soft and delicate that it feels great to stick your face and nose into them and take a deep breath of heavenly scent. Even once the flowers drop off they still look perfect and can be used as a beautiful decoration in your home by floating them in a bowl of water. Enjoy the weekend everyone!!!