Bark-mimicking grasshopper

Bark-mimicking Grasshopper – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This sizable insect is commonly known as a bark-mimicking grasshopper (Coryphistes ruricola) and even its eyes look like they are actually made of wood. They are common in Australia and depending on location and surrounding environment, appear in various colors from grays to browns. Collectively they are an interesting view of natural selection at work. This grasshopper which was photographed in Western Australia was in an area where there weren’t many trees at all, but blended in very well with the sand it was sitting on. If I was a bird I would certainly think twice about whether I was about to eat a grasshopper or a piece of fallen tree branch.

For other insects please click here.

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Starling in a Snowstorm

Starling in a Snowstorm – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Storms are hard on everyone, but none more so than the poor birds which have very little shelter from the wind and cold. I saw a photo today of a very defeated cockatoo in Australia sitting amongst fallen branches, wet and with most of his feathers blown off by cyclone Debbie. Thankfully he was rescued by the photographer and I hope he will make a speedy recovery. The bird in these photos was weathering out a snowstorm in New York two weeks ago (hopefully our last one of the winter) and was grateful that I provided some breadcrumbs. Actually in truth I am not sure that the bird was grateful because grumpy is its permanent facial expression. I cannot blame him as I’d be grumpy too if I was locked outside in a snowstorm with no socks to keep my feet warm.

Grateful but naturally grumpy – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Friday Flower – Electric pink dahlia

Electric Pink Dahlia – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I think it’s about time for another dahlia. The huge variety in these flowers ensures that they always get my attention. This stunning pink flower is made even more impressive against the dark green leaves of the plant. The layers of petals are carefully arranged to expose just a hint of deep yellow in the center of the flower. With every day, new petals are developing and the flower continues a seductive undress for all the insects that want to access the precious pollen at the heart of this magnificent flower. Happy weekend everyone!!!

For other dahlia posts please click here.

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.