Frogs that wear denim

Blue jeans poison dart frog – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This tiny little beauty is a type of strawberry dart frog from Costa Rica. They call this particular variety a blue jeans poison dart frog because the red bodied frog has blue arms and legs. The bright colors of these frogs is a signal to any predators that they are extremely toxic and should be left alone. The poison from one individual frog is enough to kill 10 adult humans. When I saw this frog it shocked me how tiny they really are, as they are generally about the size of your big toenail. It’s also amazing to me that such tiny frogs can create so much noise!

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.

Pelicans in love

Pelicans in love – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This pair of pelicans are very much in love. She thinks he’s tall and handsome with his dark hair and brooding eyes. He also has a funny side to his personality and often makes her laugh. He thinks her daintiness is adorable and also loves her headstrong and ambitious personality. The day they met she followed him down the river, knowing that he’d be a loyal and respectful mate. He’d also help raise the chicks and fiercely protect his family, ensuring they are always safe. They have a great life in a beautiful place called Grand Teton National Park. It is where they will make happy memories, raise a family and grow old together.

Dance of the Pelicans – Scene 1

Dance of the Pelicans 1 – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This was one of my most challenging and yet rewarding photography experiences. I was sitting on a wharf, while the sun was setting in the late afternoon, watching pelicans in small groups dive bomb over and over again for food. I had to photograph a moving target, in frame and in focus, and hopefully come away with some incredible poses of these pelicans in flight. This is my favorite photo, I hope you enjoy seeing these incredible birds as much as I enjoyed taking their pictures.

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.

Whistle pig in a meadow

Whistle pig in a meadow – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Any creature in a meadow of bright yellow flowers is adorable, but these cute and furry ground squirrels are also very entertaining. You may also know them as marmots, groundhogs, woodchucks or whistle pigs. The last name describes the shrill call they make to alert the colony of trespassers nearby (such as us humans). Which also means that as you walk through whistle pig territory (Yellowstone National Park), you have high-pitched music following you around everywhere you go.

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?!