Brown anole in Jamaica

Brown anole in Jamaica – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This little anole is a type of lizard native to the Bahamas and Cuba. However, it is easily spotted on many other Caribbean Islands. It is a highly invasive species and easily outcompetes other small lizards and frogs because it will eat anything that can fit into its mouth. Like other lizards, they will communicate through mostly visual displays. When angry or threatened they expand the flap of skin on their throat to display an orange and yellow warning and perform some push ups. If the threat continues, they will bite, urinate and defecate, but also have the ability to detach their tail as a moving decoy to facilitate their escape from a predator. These traits are what makes this little lizard a very skilled survivor.

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.

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!

Mama bear is always watching

Mama bear is always watching – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This glorious black bear mama is keeping a watchful eye on her two bouncing cubs not too far away (click here to see baby bear post). Her fur is so shiny and in perfect condition. It was such an experience to sit and watch her graze while her two babies bounced over logs and tried to climb tree trunks and clumsily fell and rolled around in the grass. She wasn’t at all concerned by our presence (don’t worry I was much further away than this picture looks!), but every now and again the babies would stop and stare at me to see if I was still there watching before going back to their rough and tumble play. How blessed they are to call Yellowstone their home.

Spring brings baby bears

Spring brings baby bears – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This fuzzy little bear cub is the very essence of what makes Spring the best season of the year. Animal babies! This bouncy ball of fluff is one of two baby cubs to a mamma black bear (click here for her post) in Yellowstone National Park. She is much darker than her chocolate brown babies, but actually the name ‘black bear’ is actually quite misleading as they can come in many different colors such as brown, cinnamon, blond, grey and even white! Don’t you just want to give this cutie a cuddle? Most definitely not because mum is not too far away with an ever watchful eye on her two little bubs.

Click here for more Yellowstone posts.

Staring at an osprey that’s staring at me

Staring at an osprey – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This gorgeous, nesting osprey was giving me a very stern stare while I was taking her photo. I don’t think it’s her fault though because ospreys look inherently grumpy. Contrary to how this photo appears, I am not close at all, but she spotted me from miles away! After soon deciding that I was nothing worth worrying over, her and her partner went back to usual osprey activities such as mating, eating recently caught fish and general nest building and sitting. I was lucky enough to be able to watch this osprey pair for a few days, and I absolutely loved getting such an insight into their daily activities.

To see a photo of the male osprey, click here.

Yellowstone Moose

Yellowstone moose – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This male moose was just one of several moose we saw while traveling through Yellowstone National Park. We actually saw this particular moose on two occasions as he obviously likes to graze in the same area, and was accompanied by his girlfriend who was grazing nearby (I had to crop her rump out of my photo). Having visited in the Spring we were also lucky enough to catch a mother and her moose calf playing by a river. Knowing nothing about moose, I was surprised to learn that they grow new antlers every year, so that in Spring they don’t look like the typical male moose pictures you often see with giant antlers. Also, they are often found alongside rivers, lakes and marshy meadows because they like to feed on many aquatic plants as well, and have learned to be excellent swimmers and even dive for their underwater food! So when out looking for moose to photograph, check the nearby rivers and lakes…. who knew?!

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.