The yellow eyebrows of a blue grouse

Blue Grouse – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This is a gloriously proud male grouse who had decided I was infringing upon his territory. To let me know this he performed his intimidation dance – tail feathers sprawled, neck feathers on end to uncover that red wrinkly skin, and an angry frown with his bright yellow eyebrows. Little did he know, that instead of scaring me away, his dance was what got him noticed in the first place. After taking his photo, I let him think he won and scared me off with his territorial display. Such a gorgeous and unusual bird!

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Friday Flower – A bright star Allium

A bright star Allium – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This sharply pointed, geometric flower belongs to the Allium genus. A spring flowering bulb related to garlic, onion and chives that comes in varieties of pink, whites and purples and different sized flowers. The flowers cluster on the top of a single long stem and once opened, they appear as a bright firework of color. Many of them also have a glittery shimmer on the petals, catching the light and adding to their stunning beauty. This flower is a wonderful addition to any garden since purple flowers against a backdrop of green always looks so impressive. Its great to be back, have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Friday Flower – The adorable aquilegia

Aquilegia (columbine) – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This beautiful flower which belongs to the adorable aquilegia plant was staring up at me, proud to be the first to open, surrounded by slower growing, unopened flower buds in various stages of development. The name aquilegia comes from the Latin word for eagle because the petal spurs look like an eagles claw, although you might know this plant by the more common name of columbine. The nectar filled spurs attract moths, butterflies or hummingbirds to pollenate the opened flowers and different species of this plant have adapted the spur length to attract certain pollinators over others.  The flowers of some aquilegia species are edible in moderation, however the roots and seeds are incredibly toxic and can cause severe gastroenteritis, heart palpitations and even death. Despite it’s ominous nature, this plant stuns passers by with so many different varieties of colorful, bright and attractive flowers.

Good at spotting balls of fluff (commonly known as raccoons)

Ball of fluff – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Isn’t this the cutest face you’ve ever seen?!

I always keep an eye out for raccoons whenever I am walking through Central Park in New York. I have become very adept in spotting them after I learned a few simple things. They are mostly in the trees and not on the ground. I had no idea that raccoons slept in trees, so look for round bundles of fur tucked into the fork of trees where the large branches leave the trunk. The hour before sunset is when these little fuzz balls are waking up and they start moving which makes them easier to see. You will find them stretching, grooming and coming down from the trees to rummage through the parks trash cans. This little youngster was quite unsure of me and so had all of its fur on end – clearly a grumpy morning person (or evening raccoon).

The rock waves of Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon rock formations – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Antelope Canyon is an amazing rock sculpture that has been beautifully designed by Mother Nature herself. These canyons have been formed by many years of flash flooding, which brings fast running water carrying abrasive sand and rocks through the canyon, continually eroding and sculpting the sandstone walls. The narrow, twisting walls of slot canyons create photos with multi-layered depth, different shades of rich color and interesting compositions. Antelope Canyon is located in Arizona, east of Page and has two separate segments called Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon and is well worth a visit.

Nothing’s greener than a tree frog

Nothing’s greener than a tree frog – Photograph by Laura Lecce

These green tree frogs are the masters of camouflage. They look exactly the same color and shape as new mangrove leaves, which is exactly how I would want to look too if I lived in croc infested waters in Cairns, Australia. They’re actually quite chubby and large for a frog, growing to about 4.5 inches long (11.5 cm). They are a wonderful visitor to have in your garden if you are so lucky, as they eat cockroaches, locusts, moths and spiders. They are docile creatures who are relatively unafraid of humans, and so are commonly found hanging around outdoor lights waiting for approaching food. They are incredibly vocal using calls for mating, but will also scream when attacked by predators or squeak when poked. As cute as that may be, I do not encourage you to go around poking tree frogs as any toxins on your hand will get absorbed through their skin which is also how they absorb oxygen to breathe.

For other frog posts please click here.

Flower Friday – Purple

Purple – Art by Laura Lecce

Can you ever have too much purple? The answer to that is YES! When I was little, my favorite color was purple. I put a lot of thought into choosing my favorite color, it is a big commitment for a kid. You see, I was a well thought out semi-conformist, I liked to be part of everything but certainly in my own non-obvious way and pink was way too obvious a choice for a girl. I also wasn’t an outgoing, center of attention kind of kid, so yellow and orange were eliminated. Also ruled out were green, which in the right shade can be beautiful but also has way too many shades of yucky and blue was clearly set aside for boys. So purple it was. To show my commitment to my favorite color I hounded my dad to paint my bedroom a deep and intense color purple (much like the background of this painting). I love it…..for a good few years anyway. Isn’t it always the way though, that too much of a thing you love becomes a thing you hate. As I approached my teenage years I felt stifled by purple, suffocated by purple, and was very much relieved to move on to a turquoise blue and green room.