It might not have been the prettiest of colours, but this dragonfly stood still long enough for me to get some pretty good photos. Not only did it sit for a while, but even smiled for the photo (well not really, its mouth parts just give that impression). If you Google “dragonfly faces”, you get quite a selection of adorable dragonfly closeups showing you the different expressions of various dragonflies, some are very happy and others are quite grumpy looking. It’s an odd sight considering a dragonfly face is not something many of us get to see, especially since they’re mostly whizzing around at top speeds between 30-60 km/h (19-38 mph).
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.
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!
This brightly colored scarlet macaw was spotted with it’s equally impressive partner, chowing down on beach almonds (Terminalia catappa tree) along the coast of Costa Rica. As is quite typical of the parrot family, they are large and they are loud! You almost always see them flying and hanging out in pairs, and they know how to communicate very well with each other. They will let each other know when it’s time to fly off to another spot with a very loud screech. This was such a spectacular sight on a bright sunny beach day – life doesn’t get any better than this. It makes me sad to think about how many of these birds live in isolation, in cages, unable to be free or have a partner to chat with. As glorious as they are to look at, nothing is more glorious than spotting them flying freely through the sky as nature intended it.
A gorgeous school of Blue Tang fish swimming through the corals around South Water Caye island in Belize. These fish swim across you in undulating waves, and it’s very soothing and relaxing to watch them. They mostly swim in a large school of fish, moving through the water as if they are a single large organism, all connected and communicating. They seem so peaceful, as if no predators exist in the world, and for those moments I wish that could be true for us all.
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.
These beautiful plants are known for a range of colored flowers predominantly seen in red, orange and yellow. They are mostly a tropical plant and are unsurprisingly related to the Bird of Paradise (of which the flowers look very similar) and also bananas (which look like a larger version of this plant). The flower produces nectar to attract pollinators such as hummingbirds. If you ever decide you want a tropical-looking garden, the inclusion of some different heliconias are a must and fairly easy to grow. The luscious green foliage and bright splash of flower color will certainly brighten up your day. Happy weekend everyone!
New York is currently in full Christmas swing, and so I thought a Christmas colored photo would be a great one for today. This photo is of an adorable type of orchid called an Epidendrum, and they come in a large range of beautiful colors. This photo is actually flipped upside down, as this plant grows its flower stems pointing directly up (instead of many other orchids which arch over) so the flowers actually appear upside down on the stems. This is an orchid which is quite hardy and can tolerate drier conditions than a lot of other orchids, so it will grow outside in Australia without much trouble at all. Happy weekend everyone!!!
For more orchid photos please click here.
This past weekend I went to Mexico and had some amazing experiences that I will share with you next week. However, of all of my photographs, this one was quite unexpectedly the most beautiful (and I never thought I would say that about a giant grasshopper!). This almighty insect which visited my balcony was an incredible lime green color with striking blue eyes. It happily sat still while I took my time getting the photo just right. Later that same night as I was walking along the beach, I spotted a few more (even bigger ones!) which I almost stepped on in the dark. One of them was in the direct path of a crowd of people coming down the beach and in need of rescuing. I decided to carefully nudge the insect onto the book I was holding so that I could safely relocate it (mind you, the book was no bigger than the bug itself). However, rather than happily complying with my request, it instead took a flying leap onto my knee, and although I am not at all afraid of insects, this was still a most unpleasant surprise! After a successful second attempt, I moved the big guy out of harms way, and I’m sure he will make a very large and tasty breakfast for some bird in the morning.
The Jade Vine (not to be confused with the jade plant also known as money tree) is an unusual plant native to the Philippines and is closely related to beans and peas. It grows into a monstrous vine with stems of up to 60 feet (18 meters) and once mature will hang hundreds of cascading flowers, dangling from stems as long as 10 feet (3 meters). These flowers range from a lovely turquoise color to a mint green. The flowers above were photographed from a mighty vine growing inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (photo below) at the New York Botanical Gardens. It is a temperature controlled glass house that contains many tropical plants, which like myself, are most intolerant of New York winters. Happy weekend everyone!