Friday – Fishes Blue

Many Fishes Blue – Photograph by Laura Lecce

A gorgeous school of Blue Tang fish swimming through the corals around South Water Caye island in Belize. These fish swim across you in undulating waves, and it’s very soothing and relaxing to watch them. They mostly swim in a large school of fish, moving through the water as if they are a single large organism, all connected and communicating. They seem so peaceful, as if no predators exist in the world, and for those moments I wish that could be true for us all.

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Terrifying Tarantula

Terrifying Tarantula – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Even though I named this photo terrifying, and I can understand why it might be to some people, I was so excited to see this gorgeously hairy tarantula. Even though tarantulas have fangs and are venomous, and may on a rare occasion bite causing discomfort, there has never been a death by tarantula bite (of a human). Their body hairs however can irritate the skin and cause a rash, and some people are known to be highly allergic to them. These spiders hunt at night which is when we saw this beauty, which was about the size of my hand. Squished up in a burrow they wait for unsuspecting prey (or a thin stick in this case) to walk by the entrance to their lair, and then they pounce! As is quite common in the world of spiders, male spiders are terrified of females, but of course need to get close to mate. So to make it a quicker affair, before males encounter a female they lay a ‘sperm-web’ and secrete semen onto it, rub their specialized legs into it (pedipalps), and then go on a search for a receptive female. Using female pheromones to guide him, he finally encounters a female burrow, and will tap to let her know he is there. If she likes him she will exit the burrow and he will spider-dance for her. If he has impressed her, her will get closer, hold her fangs with his legs and deposit the sperm underneath her abdomen. If she didn’t enjoy his dance she will either pay him no attention at all or attack him, and hopefully he has fast enough reflexes to get away.

 

Outstretched Osprey

Outstretched Osprey – Photograph by Laura Lecce

To my absolute delight, the moment I arrived on the small island of South Water Caye in Belize, I spotted an osprey nest. I had previously stalked out osprey nests (each with a baby inside) in Yellowstone National Park hoping to get a glimpse of a parent returning, but having no luck at all. This time, the ospreys and I were stranded on an island together and I was determined to get my photograph… and I got several! These large beautiful birds mate for life, and I got to watch a gorgeous couple of ospreys ‘baby making’ on several occasions. I don’t think it would be very pleasant at all having your male partner dive onto your back with huge sharp talons, I hope the feathers provide some cushioning. Ospreys live near water, either a river or the ocean where it can hunt for fish, so you may get to see some dive bombing. They inhabit all continents on earth except Antarctica, which means they are in Australia too!

The angry orange iguana

The Orange Iguana – Photograph by Laura Lecce

After returning recently from an epic trip to Belize, I will start off with my favorite animal. This glorious and giant iguana who was longer than I am tall, was perched high up in a palm tree, enjoying the view of the ocean on the coast of Belize. I have so much love for these beautiful, dinosaur-like reptiles, but sadly they never return my love. Instead I always get a stony glare, and this one went so far as to wag his chin flap at me to show me just how annoyed he was that I was taking his photograph. This action of disdain, to his disappointment, only made me love him even more!

 

For other annoyed lizards please click here!

Beauty in death

Beauty in Death – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Yellowstone National Park is full of breathtaking scenery. You can drive from wildflower covered hills and grass covered valleys, to snow-scattered mountains such as the ones in this photo. I had to be prepared for significant changes in temperature along this trip, ready for just about anything. I often find myself pointing my camera at a dead tree as the focal point of my photo. There is something hauntingly beautiful about a naked tree, the branches reaching out and forming interesting shapes. No longer a living part of this world but a significant aspect of the current landscape in which it once lived.

 

Friday Fungi – A Mound of Magnificent Mushrooms

A Mound of Magnificent Mushrooms – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This giant family of mushrooms photographed in Rochester NY, have prospered by setting themselves up in this ideal location. Nestled at the foot of this tree, on the shady side of town, where they don’t have to deal with any hot sun. Even so, each mushroom still fights for it’s fair share of light by either climbing higher or further out than its relatives. They get their nutrients from whatever leaf litter that falls from the tree and degrades into the rich soil below. They will each make millions of microscopic spores in the gills hidden underneath their caps, and eventually release them into the wind to find a new home next year.

For other mushrooms please click here.

Too close for comfort

Too close for comfort – Photograph by Laura Lecce

By that I mean my comfort! This chipmunk was way too curious for my liking and I was worried he was going to jump on my head! He kept getting so close my camera couldn’t focus and I had to keep backing up to take a photo. As a general rule I prefer not to interact with wildlife so that I can photograph them behaving naturally in their environment, but sometimes wildlife can’t help but get a little too curious!