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.

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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.

There’s always one

There’s always one – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo makes me smile… While each of these gorgeous Icelandic horses are warming their faces in the sun, there is one with his bum to the sun. So here’s to being different, interesting and unique, especially if it brings a smile to someone’s face and keeps your butt warm at the same time.

For other posts about Iceland click here.

Northern lights in Iceland

Northern lights in Iceland – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This photo was taken on a trip to Iceland in March, the season of the Northern Lights (Sept to Apr). I learned many things while practicing my night photography on this spectacular display.

Firstly, the lights themselves look brighter in a photo than in real life. This is because to take a night photo you will use a long exposure, so the photo is a collective of multiple seconds of light put together.

Due to the long exposure of a night photo there is plenty of time to accumulate blurry movement into your photo. Essentially a tripod is your best friend so that your camera is as still as can be. Not wanting to travel with a tripod, I found a table to rest my camera on.

The lights are in the North. This may seem obvious enough to most people, but the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. So when you see stunning photos of Northern Lights over a mountain or lake, that landscape must also be to the North of you.

They aren’t around every night or all night and to see them best, the sky needs to be mostly clear of clouds. This mysterious light display comes and goes at will, popping up and disappearing whenever it chooses. They are higher than the clouds, so clouds will obstruct your view of them. This means that to take the ultimate Northern Lights pic you needs a bunch of patience to sit up all night and watch the sky in a freezing cold environment.

Conveniently we stayed in a hotel which gives you a wake-up call when the night security person sees the lights appear. Great for us to get some sleep, but this means that the landscape you are photographing the lights in wont be as impressive as camping on the south aspect of a gorgeous mountain or lake.

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!