Flower Friday – Pointleaf Manzanita

The bleeding bush - Photograph by Laura Lecce
The bleeding bush – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This post today is not so much a flower but a really interesting shrub I saw while recently hiking in Sedona, Arizona. A shrub commonly named pointleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens), manzanita meaning “little apple” in Spanish. These plants make berries (that look like little apples, hence the name) which are a food source for various wildlife in this dry and harsh environment, and are also harvested to make jam in some parts of Mexico. They have gorgeously twisted, blood-red bark and branches ending in small green leaves. Even more fascinating is that many of them are a tortuous combination of dead (grey) and live (red) parts which look as though blood is streaming down the side of the plant. It is also fitting that an area famous for its red rocks has its very own red shrubs too. Happy weekend everyone!

Flower Friday – Ornamental grasses

Autumn Grass - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Autumn Grass – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Autumn is a time when even grass can become a beautifully colored photograph. Grasses are a very diverse plant group and can be found in a huge range of climates, colors and sizes. Mibora minima is the smallest grass which grows between 2-15 centimeters tall, whereas the largest grass which is actually a bamboo can reach a height of 30 meters (98 feet)! Grass grows on every continent and in every climate even in Antarctica, and so can be a colorful and very hardy addition to any garden. Happy weekend everyone!

Spot the Emu

Spot the Emu - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Spot the Emu – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Can you spot the emu? This photo was taken on a Western Australian highway on a road trip from Exmouth to Monkey Mia, with a stop at Coral Bay. Coral Bay is a beautiful area where the Ningaloo Reef stretches along the coast just a short swim off the beach – a must see location for snorkelers. Monkey Mia is a famous location in WA where dolphins swim into incredibly shallow waters to get fed and interact with humans. On this remote stretch of road you will witness a very dry landscape with expanses of red dirt to either side. You may see small leafless shrubs with adorable tiny goats huddled underneath trying to seek refuge from the hot sun. Closer to the coast the shrubs get larger and slightly greener, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some emus running across the land, darting in amongst the shrubs after being spooked by your car. They remind me of the Looney Tunes character the Roadrunner (with Wile E. Coyote), except that real roadrunners run at a speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), whilst emus can run at 31 mph (50 km/h). Below is a close up photo just in case he ran so fast you missed him!

Click here for posts on other Australian wildlife.

In case you missed him
In case you missed him

A dreary Sunday

A dreary Sunday - Art by Laura Lecce
A dreary Sunday – Art by Laura Lecce

Here in New York we just experienced a very cold and bleak Sunday which was not worth leaving the house for. This Monday morning is equally dreary, depressing and cold. To combat the Monday morning blues, I want to share the painting I did yesterday. I set out to paint something so ‘hurt your eyes’ bright which could compensate for the lack of sunshine outside, and this pink daisy made my day. I hope it is enough brighten up your Monday!

It wasn’t always so peaceful

It wasn's always peaceful - Photograph by Laura Lecce
It wasn’t always peaceful – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Today is an extra special Friday… the one year anniversary of my blog!!! I want to thank everyone (all of my followers) for your support which has made blogging the wonderful experience it has been so far. Today I am breaking Friday tradition, and instead I want to share with you an alternate photo of one of my earliest posts. The original photo below (click here for original post) was of a peaceful Western Australian seascape with well behaved, black and white cormorants. Todays photo above was taken just moments before that one, the cormorants squabbling over a territorial dispute involving expensive waterfront real estate. Together these photos are the perfect metaphor for how quickly life can change in a mere moment, and that no matter how ugly a current situation is, the calm will eventually arrive.

Life at Sea - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Life at Sea – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Early on in my blog I also had a post on my battle with anxiety, especially bad when I travel on airplanes (click here for post). I am proud to say that two days ago I was courageous enough to fly alone for the first time in about 10 years. It wasn’t a great experience with definite moments of panic, but I calmed myself down and I made it. I did it by myself and I can be very proud of that! So here is to the incredible changes that one minute, one hour, or one year of time can bring to someone’s life. Happy Weekend Everyone!!!

Friday – A Flower and a Fly

A Flower and a Fly - Photograph by Laura Lecce
A Flower and a Fly – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Today I present to you this fly……on a flower. This fly is called a green bottle fly because of the shiny metallic green color of its body. Flies such as these have very important uses in both forensic science and medicine. They are often the first flies to arrive at a human or animal carcass, and this is where they can begin their lifecycle – A female will lay about 200 eggs which hatch and become larvae in 1-3 days, fully developed larvae in 3-10 days, and pupal development takes 6-14 days after which an adult fly emerges. Forensic investigators can use this knowledge to approximate the length of time a deceased has been dead.

These flies (or more correctly, the maggots) are used by doctors to treat wounds which are unresponsive to conventional treatments. They eat away the dead tissue and bacteria, and also secrete antimicrobial enzymes which together prevents infection and allows healthy tissue to grow successfully. Given the increasing resistance of bacteria to known antibiotics, this may just become the medicine of the future. Sorry to give such a literal example of making your skin crawl….

Happy weekend everyone!

I’m Going Batty

Going Batty - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Going Batty – Photograph by Laura Lecce

So this was an absolute treat…. About a week ago, this furry little bum showed up on a window sill at work. Completely perplexed by this round ball of golden colored fur, it took me a few minutes to figure out that what I was actually looking at was a bat! It was so tiny, like the size of a mouse. I watched closely to make sure he was breathing (as I thought originally that he might be dead), and I wondered what circumstances he had endured to be forced to spend his daily nap on our window sill. The poor little bugger looked so cold that I wished I could have given him a warm cuddle. I regularly checked on this little golden fur ball through out the day, hoping I would eventually see him fly off. Unfortunately, sometime as the sun was setting I missed the takeoff moment, but hoped he would have found his friends. This tiny little guy is very different from the bats I’m used to back in Australia. Some of our bats are much larger and are actually named flying foxes (although we have about 75 species of bats of all different sizes!). Flying foxes are large black bats with a mane of golden fur around their necks, they are seen throughout Sydney. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney was home to a very large colony of flying foxes (over 20,000 of them at times) which took up residence on few leafless trees, completely destroyed to accommodate their numbers. They were incredibly loud, constantly squabbling as they tried to find sleeping room on those poor trees. They have since moved on, but it was always an amazing sight to see and hear so many bats in one place!