A heron with a spunky hairdo

A spunky hairdo – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This juvenile Green Heron was photographed in Belize, and what amazes me with these birds is how different they appear as an adult compared to a juvenile. This bird is called a Green Heron because as an adult his back and wing feathers will be a very deep green color (rather than brown) and a chestnut red neck and breast. Hopefully he will get to keep those lovely white streaks down the front of his neck. This little fellow is stretching his neck out to see as far as he can from his perch, but a lot of the time they will sit with their neck folded. These birds have quite a spiky hairdo which they can emphasize at will by raising their crown feathers when annoyed or disgruntled, or just because they can.

A formidable pair of ospreys

A formidable pair of ospreys – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This mating pair of ospreys were getting their nest ready for the future egg that will call this nest home. They were the only ospreys on this tiny island off the coast of Belize, and having the entire island to themselves meant they had ample food to catch in the reefs off the shore. Ospreys are the kind of bird that if they were ever happy, they never show it, with their face fixed in an icy frown. At one point hubby returned with a fish and wifey jumped with joy and ran across the roof top to share the meal, still looking as angry as ever! Poor guy, I guess he should have caught a bigger fish.

The three seabirds

The three seabirds – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Not all seabirds are what we imagine. When I hear “seabird” I think of a large pointy-winged hunter gliding over the ocean, waiting to dive for its prey just below the surface of the water. Or, I think of a huge colony of squabbling seagulls on the sand fighting over their food. In this photo however, are a trio of fairly timid and quiet seabirds that are often overlooked for a photo. I think that the red-brown feathers and bright orange legs are a perfect match for this crystal clear, aqua blue water.

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.

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.

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!

Sometimes blending in is more important than standing out

Black and white butterflies – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Looking at this photograph I started to wonder –  What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth? Simple, right? Not so much. For every rule, there are always exceptions and this is no different. However, here are some of the (exceptions aside) differences between moths and butterflies.

Butterflies are generally a day creature (diurnal) while moths prefer the night (nocturnal). Due to this distinction, moths are usually colored grey, black and brown, while butterflies generally show off brilliantly colored wings. Butterflies have slender bodies and long, thin antennae with a club-shaped end, while moths are stout and furry and have feather-like antennae. Butterflies rest with their wings up (like the butterfly in this image), whereas moths rest with wings down. During metamorphosis, moths make a silk cocoon, whereas butterflies make a smooth and hard chrysalis.

Although these are the general rules, this particular butterfly is not so brightly colored, and for the most part sat with wings down against this tree (see image below). I think these traits ensure successful camouflage with the bark of this tree, and therefore a greater likelihood this butterfly evades predation. This reminded me of the classic evolutionary tale of the peppered moths (for more info follow this link).

Butterfly Flattened – Photography by Laura Lecce