Debbie – The Garden Orb Weaving Spider

Debbie the Garden Orb Weaving Spider – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I’d like to introduce you to Debbie. She is a large, Garden Orb Weaving Spider that lives on my balcony in Australia. I rarely get a good look at her because she is a night spider that sits in the middle of her giant web from sunset until very early morning. She is hoping to catch some large insects for dinner such as flies, beetles and occasionally a cicada. Some nights if she hasn’t had much luck catching bugs, she stays out a little longer in the morning, which is when I got to take this great photo of her. I even fed her a large blow fly that had flown into my kitchen after I stunned it with the fly squatter. For a hefty spider, she certainly ran faster than I expected towards the fly I stuck to her web. She immediately wrapped it up, took it to the center of the web and ate him – she must have been hungry! During the day when she is not in the web, she is contently tucked away into her sleeping hole in one of the bricks of my balcony. She will sadly only live a year, as they generally die out in late Autumn to early Winter. Before that happens, she will try to find a mate and lay eggs in late Summer to Autumn encased in a silky cocoon. Unlike some other spiders, males and females are similar in size. The babies will hatch not long after and catch the breeze with their little silk balloon to relocate to a new home. Hopefully there will be many more little Debbies to share my home with and admire.

Cutest fruit bat ever!

Cutest little fruit bat – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Ok, so to those of you that hate bats, hopefully I can change your mind with these two very cute photos. In inner Sydney an hour before sunset the sky is full of winged creatures called flying foxes (also known as a fruit bat), which is one of Australia’s mega-bats. This particular type is native to Australia and is called a Grey-headed flying fox (typically a grey head with a neck collar of orange-brown fur). These little guys might be bigger than you think, with adults having an average wingspan of 1 meter (3.3 ft). They settle on the giant fig trees when in fruit, and if you are anywhere near, you will hear them squabbling loudly at each other. Unlike micro-bats they don’t use sonar to get around, they use their eyes an ears like we do and can see in the dark as good as a cat can. If you watch them closely enough you will see how cute they are, hanging upside-down and watching you while munching on a fig, which also means they poke their tongue out a lot. To me the photo below is just like an adorable teddy bear. They love nectar, pollen and fruits and are vital to maintaining the ecosystem by dispersing the seeds. I hope you also see how adorable a bat can really be once you get past the whole night creature with leathery wings.

Bat or teddy bear? – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Merry Christmas 2018

Christmas Bird 2018 – Photograph by Laura Lecce

A very merry Christmas and happy New Year to everyone! I’m looking forward to seeing the wonderful creatures that 2019 will bring. I am now back in Australia permanently, so hopefully some beautiful Aussie birds will come and say hi.

Woodpecker in Belize

Woodpecker in Belize – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Since we’re on the topic of woodpeckers, I thought I’d show you a different kind. This beautiful, puffed out bird was diligently hole checking on an island in Belize. It was traveling with a friend from palm tree to palm tree, which made me realize that the woodpeckers I’ve seen have often traveled in pairs. I’m not entirely sure what kind of woodpecker this is, as it has the face markings of a ladderback woodpecker, but more yellow coloring on the underbelly than usual. I saw them at the same times each day which gave me multiple opportunities to observe their behavior and get some great photos.

Woodpecker with a radical hairdo

Woodpecker with a radical hairdo – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This was a treat to finally get to photograph on of the largest woodpeckers in America. Growing up in Australia I didn’t know there were different types of woodpeckers, I thought there was only one. This particular bird is a Pileated Woodpecker that lives in Yosemite National Park. My ignorance about the woodpecker is valid considering they exist worldwide except for Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Madagascar and extreme polar regions. In America, well before I had even seen a woodpecker, I had learned to recognize the signs of woodpecker activity on trees who have had numerous holes poked into them and display naked areas where the bark has been hammered off. I’ve also often heard the bird in the distance hammering on the tree, but not actually seen the individual making all the noise. They hit the tree surprisingly hard with their beaks over and over again at incredible speed, it is a wonder how they don’t have a permanent migraine.

A lizard with blue spots?!

Lizard with blue spots – Photograph by Laura Lecce

If I didn’t have photographic proof, would you ever have believed that I found a lizard with blue spots? Well this Aruban Whiptail lizard with a ‘too cool for school’ facial expression is real and comes in differing degrees of blue. Many species of whiptails reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis, meaning the females eggs undergo chromosomal doubling without being fertilized and produce babies with the genetic make up (clones) of the mother. Because of this reproductive quirk, many species of whiptail lizards are all females. Goodbye males and genetic diversity and hello to a world where females rule all. See ladies, it can happen!

For other lizards posts please click here.