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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
I did not see these Canadian geese in Canada but in Yellowstone National Park. It seems the name is misleading as I have seen a lot of these geese in the US! They even nest in Central Park in Manhattan, and in the Spring you will see chicken-sized, fluffy babies following their parents around. These two posed so perfectly that they deserved to have their photo taken.
For other posts from Yellowstone National Park, please click here. This post is dedicated to my Canadian friends.
Life doesn’t get much better than this. Watching a mamma grizzly make her way slowly through a field of yellow wildflowers while her two cubs run around her. This picture was taken in Spring in Teton National Park. There were quite a few female grizzlies each with two beautiful and bouncy cubs. Predictably they took the same route every day, so on each day you could catch a glimpse of them making their way through this field. I learned that a grizzly can be distinguished from other bears because of the hump on it’s back above the shoulders. They are so much bigger than I imagined, and every time I saw a bear on this trip I would forget to breathe. You really feel like you are in the presence of a magnificent and truly special animal. What a truly wonderful experience.