I certainly didn’t grow up with Autumn colors like this in Sydney, which is why I am in such awe when I get the chance to see them now. Acadia National Park was the perfect destination for a weekend getaway to see peak foliage colors painted across the most stunning scenery. This glorious day was the ideal combination of warm golden sun and chilly air – the best hiking weather. Climbing the steep Beehive Trail to the top of this small mountain provided an incredible vantage point with which to admire Mother Nature’s artwork. As a person who lives for color, even I could not have imagined that this many brilliant and intense colors could exist in a single landscape. Just incredible!
One thing I miss since moving to New York is the sweet smell of frangipanis. In Australia they grow in abundance in all but the colder cities and the flowering season goes for months. There are close to 300 different colors of frangipanis and all are incredibly beautiful. These trees make their own perfectly arranged bouquet of flowers at the end of each branch. The flowers are so soft and delicate that it feels great to stick your face and nose into them and take a deep breath of heavenly scent. Even once the flowers drop off they still look perfect and can be used as a beautiful decoration in your home by floating them in a bowl of water. Enjoy the weekend everyone!!!
I love the warm golden colors that the setting sun has painted across this landscape. This magnificent great blue heron was photographed in Zion National Park in Utah. I have seen many herons since moving to America, and even though we have herons in Australia I never really noticed them before. I am always amazed that for such a large bird, herons are incredibly shy and skittish. No matter how slow I try to creep up they never let me get very close at all, but I have seen these birds get courageously close to some pretty massive alligators! The photo below is the original before cropping which has a very beautiful arch created by tree branches. A dry looking landscape hiding a trickling stream just behind the tree line, and a dusty red path occasionally dotted with a green firework – sometimes nature creates its very own artworks.
Last week on the 20th of November it was international sloth day. These incredibly interesting and bizarre creatures were a highlight on my visit to Costa Rica. Honestly, they are one of those creatures that you hope you will see, but in reality never think you will be lucky enough to actually spot one. I was so very wrong… we actually saw quite a few. We were also lucky enough to see a couple of them on the move (although they move frustratingly slow, making you wonder how they get anywhere they want). You can imagine that in a world where things move so fast, and increasingly so, that these animals may not have a place in the future without a lot of help from humans. However for now, they always have a smile on their face and are truly happy just hanging around. After spotting a few on our own we decided to go on a guided sloth spotting tour to learn more about these fascinating creatures. The two photographs below were taken on a mobile phone through a telescopic lens that our guide had, so I cannot take credit for them, but they clearly show the differences between the two families of sloths. The first is a three-toed sloth with a darker fur, and the second a two-toed sloth with lighter fur.
We were lucky to have photos with their heads in them, as they mostly sleep all day, and all you often get to see while looking up into the trees is a furry bum. Being Australian, I think of them as the Central/South American cousin of the Koala. Both move quite slowly, live high up in the trees, spend most of their day sleeping (about 15-20 hours a day) and for the few hours a day they are awake they munch on leaves.
Click here for other posts from Costa Rica.
The Autumn season is upon us, and many trees in Manhattan are showing signs of changing color. Have you ever wondered how the trees know what season it is? Many trees and plants are photoperiodic, meaning they can detect the hours of darkness in a 24 hour period. In this way, trees and plants can detect the lengthening of nights into winter or shortening of nights heading into summer. This clever ability is achieved through pigments within the leaves called phytochromes, which can trigger a cascade of specific hormones and growth factors which regulate growth, flowering, and changes in leaf color during autumn. Leaves produce chlorophyll throughout most of the year, a green pigment critical for photosynthesis which allows trees and plants to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll masks other pigments present within the leaf such as carotenes and xanthophyll, which are responsible for orange and yellow coloring, respectively. As the length of night increases during autumn, it triggers a cork-like membrane to form around the base of the leaf stalk called an abscission. The abscission slowly cuts off the supply of nutrients to the leaf, thus limiting the production of chlorophyll and allowing the orange and yellow colors to be visible. Anthocyanin is also produced in autumn, which gives leaves a red and purple coloring. Eventually nutrients to the leaves are completely halted causing the leaves to fall off. After accumulating a certain amount of time in the cold during winter months, which is referred to as the number of chill hours, trees can then respond to the increasingly warmer temperatures and shorter nights of Spring. During this time there is an upregulation of genes responsible for producing antioxidants and vitamin C to rid the tree of hydrogen peroxide which has built up during the winter dormancy. Trees are now able to produce the hormones and growth factors necessary to begin flowering and making new leaves again. Happy Autumn Everyone!
To see my other post on Autumn in New York, please click here.
Moraine Lake was one of the destinations on my trip to Canada last year. The purpose of this trip was to see some of Canada’s natural wonders, the beauty of the mountains and the amazing wildlife that call this country home. This lake was one of the many highlights of my trip. There are few places in the world that are as photogenic as this turquoise lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains which provide a stunning backdrop. Located in the Valley of Ten Peaks, the lake is filled with glacial runoff which gives the water its signature color. As the glaciers thaw, the trickling water collects rock flour (sediment) on the way to the lake, formed by erosion of the rocks as the glaciers grind against them. This is a place in the world where photography cannot live up to actually being there. The crispness of the air, the tranquility of the forest, and the magnitude of the mountains all contribute to the magnificence of Moraine Lake.
For those of you wondering why my blog has been quiet lately, I have been on vacation to my home country of Australia. So on my return, I thought it fitting to share with you some photos I took along the way. Todays flower is from the eucalyptus tree. There are many varieties of these beautiful trees and shrubs and most are native to Australia. They play a vital role in Australia’s natural environment and are found abundantly throughout the country, the only major environment they do not inhabit is Australia’s rainforests. Interestingly they release biochemicals which can influence the growth, reproduction and survival of other organisms, and thus inhibit other plant species growing nearby (this is called allelopathy). Planting these trees and shrubs in your yard are a great way to encourage Australian wildlife to visit your garden, as they attract and support a multitude of Australian wildlife. The most well known eucalyptus eater is the koala, but they also attract cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and other parrots, gliders and possums. The flowers alone are beautiful to photograph, and even once they fall off, the remaining gum nuts still make for interesting subjects (seen in the photo below). Happy weekend everyone, its a long one in the USA… enjoy!
This is a photo from last year while on a mini road trip from Calgary to Banff in Canada. Barely a road trip, it took only about 1.5 hours to drive, but there was just so much to see along the way that it felt like a road trip. Driving in Australia you almost never see scenery like this…a stunning backdrop of snow capped mountains, and a row of Christmas trees (I know that’s not their real name), behind these cute little highway arches. It took me a few tries to get this photo right, sitting in the passenger seat, camera pointed out the front window while my husband drove. Not all the bridges had a backdrop of mountains and I had to get the distance just right before the mountains were obscured behind the bridge. Not bad for highway speed photography!
I was lucky enough to encounter many Capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. After watching them for some time, I was able to observe some of their relationships and behaviors. In the first image, I had clearly met one of the more senior and respected members of the group. This individual was happiest observing the humans that were observing him, and was quite content in sitting back and allowing the other younger capuchins to cause a raucous.
They often moved together as large family groups, and when they did it was like a tornado moving through the trees. At one point they needed to cross a road, and before letting the mums and bubs exit the safety of the trees, they sent out scouts (pictured in the second image) to make sure the coast was clear. Once the scouts gave the all clear, monkey after monkey came flying out of the trees to scurry across the road and back into the jungle. Some of their leaps from tree to tree were incredibly far and seemed very dangerous, but they were completely confident and surefooted.
The monkey pictured in this last photo was caught making quite a mess with the little fruits hanging from this palm tree. Surely a source of food for these cuties, but at times it looked like it was having more fun throwing the fruits to the ground than actually caring to eat them. I think their cute little faces easily fool humans into thinking they are very friendly, but in contrary they can be quite aggressive and territorial and wont hesitate to flash some pretty sharp canines if you get too close.
Sometimes I think my husband believes I’m crazy by how excited I get when I see a decaying tree trunk full of perfectly formed sprouting mushrooms. I think they’re absolutely adorable, and I mustn’t be the only one. I can see why people have often drawn fairies sitting atop mushrooms and toadstools. They seem like the perfect playground for teeny fairies to bounce across, and shelter under when it rains.
Mushrooms are also a perfect example of how death gives rise to new life. In the rainforest, every time a tree dies it gives life to millions of other organisms and its legacy lives on. I hope some of you share my delight in photographing mushrooms, and if so, please share a link to your photos, as I would love to see them!