A nutty scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaw – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This brightly colored scarlet macaw was spotted with it’s equally impressive partner, chowing down on beach almonds (Terminalia catappa tree) along the coast of Costa Rica. As is quite typical of the parrot family, they are large and they are loud! You almost always see them flying and hanging out in pairs, and they know how to communicate very well with each other. They will let each other know when it’s time to fly off to another spot with a very loud screech. This was such a spectacular sight on a bright sunny beach day – life doesn’t get any better than this. It makes me sad to think about how many of these birds live in isolation, in cages, unable to be free or have a partner to chat with. As glorious as they are to look at, nothing is more glorious than spotting them flying freely through the sky as nature intended it.  


Beautiful Boa from Belize

Beautiful Boa from Belize – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This is a gorgeous snake from Belize, which was happily perched on a tree branch hanging over a river taking a nap. By far the most sizeable snake I have ever seen in the wild, I was so excited to be taking its photo. I was quite close to the snake, trying to get a good angle through the leaves, and even though I didn’t know what kind of snake I was dealing with, I knew that if it remained happily coiled, I was going to survive the encounter. After a few photographs, the snake was clearly aware of my presence and started darting its tongue in and out to get a sense of what I was. I persisted with my photographs, and to my relief the snake stayed happily relaxed and allowed me to get my photo. After showing this photo to a snake expert, I was told it is a boa constrictor, a serial asphyxiator, a snake who chokes for a living! I was photographing a snake that belongs to the family of largest snakes in the world, made up of anacondas, pythons and boa constrictors. What an incredible thrill!

Merry Christmas

Portrait of a male elk – photograph by Laura Lecce

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my followers. I’m looking forward to an exciting 2018 with many more animals and many more photos, and I hope your 2018 also brings you much joy and happiness!


Friday Fishes – A parrotfish smile

A parrotfish smile – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This colorful parrotfish living amongst the reef in Belize, flashed me a giant smile, showing me some bright white teeth. They use these teeth to scrape algae off corals and rocks, thus preventing algae overgrowth in the reef. This harsh treatment on their teeth as they eat means that they grow continuously throughout their life. I must say that it is a totally different felling getting a toothy smile from a parrotfish compared to a toothy grin from a shark!


An elk is not a reindeer

An elk is not a reindeer – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This is a sleek and athletic looking young male elk. He calls Yellowstone National Park his home, and was munching on dinner in this lush grassy area. This is probably the closest chance I will have to see a reindeer-like animal. Elk and reindeer are very similar in size, however elk fur is very sleek and shiny, mostly dark with a white bum, and with shaggy fur around their necks. This is clearly a male with his small antlers, that will grow much, much larger once he’s older. They are newly grown and still covered in a velvet-like skin which will dry and fall off in Autumn. Each year after mating season, the antlers will also fall off and grow again for the next mating season. With reindeer, the presence of antlers cannot be used to distinguish between them, as both males and females have antlers.

For other posts from Yellowstone National Park click here.


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.


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.