Stellar’s Jay – Blue Jay’s cousin on the west coast

Stellar’s Jay – Photograph by Laura Lecce

During a recent trip to the west coast of the US, we couldn’t have missed this bird if we’d tried. They are out in numbers around Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park where conifer forests are prominent. Having spent time around Blue Jays (a close relative) in New York I think Stellar’s Jays are by far the noisiest of the two and make their presence known. In addition to numerous distinct vocalizations, they are also known mimics of the calls of other birds, animals and can also produce non-animal sounds.

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Iguana inspiration for Gremlins?

Gremlin Iguana – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I’m sure I’ve said in the past that all reptiles are beautiful, but I think this Iguana might just be the exception. I think he might have even been the inspiration for Gremlins (and not the cute furry one). He seemed like the king of this particular paddock, so it seems that looks don’t matter in the Iguana world and size definitely does!

For more Iguana’s that are easier on the eyes click here.

Yosemite rattlesnake

Yosemite rattlesnake – Photograph by Laura Lecce

It is said that Yosemite National Park is home to only one type of rattlesnake, and I was honored to meet him. This is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake which is patterned with grey and white markings. I might be the only person that would call this the highlight of their trip to this spectacular national park. My friends were understandably horrified when I told them that this was the perfect snake to photograph – not frightened and running away nor aggressive, just happily working it’s way through the tree roots and occasionally stopping for a photo. What a treat!

The colorful landscape of Zion

The colorful landscape of Zion – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Another epic landscape photo showing the colorful landscape of Zion National Park in Utah. Down below you can see the road that travels in the valley between these giant rocky mountains, which are perfect for hikers to get a scenic view of the area. It was very strange to me to be seeing a landscape that looks like a dessert, but at the same time, also a place where snow was falling. The wonders of mother nature at their best.

Horseshoe Bend – An iconic scene from Arizona

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona – Photograph by Laura Lecce

A sharp U-turn of the Colorado River has created this famous rock formation named Horseshoe Bend. So famous, that even I woke up BEFORE sunrise to get there (I almost never do that!) so that I could watch the colors of the landscape change as the morning sun washes over it. As amazing as it was, I would love to go at sunset so that the setting sun could appear in my photograph. It is true what they say – that sunrise and sunset are a photographers dream. It helps to have incredible scenery to capture, with all of its own rich colors, and the landscapes of Arizona are as rich with color as they come.