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.

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!

The colorful landscape of Zion

The colorful landscape of Zion – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Another epic landscape photo showing the colorful landscape of Zion National Park in Utah. Down below you can see the road that travels in the valley between these giant rocky mountains, which are perfect for hikers to get a scenic view of the area. It was very strange to me to be seeing a landscape that looks like a dessert, but at the same time, also a place where snow was falling. The wonders of mother nature at their best.