Sunday, August 31, 2008

Try Not To Step on the Baby Lizards

The yard at 3919 N. Vine is alive with life right now, and baby lizards are among the most prominent. In some places, one must walk slowly to avoid stepping on them as they scatter. The most abundant actually seems to be the Tiger Whiptails. My point-and-shoot has only a 3x zoom, and I didn't crop this photo all the way so you can see how small this guy is.

This one is a baby Ornate Tree Lizard, even smaller than the whiptail, with a total length of about 1.25 inches. I used the super-macro on this one.

This adult female was nearby, perhaps the mother. There are also baby Desert Spiny-Lizards and Mediterranean Geckos about.

I should have posted this next photo when I took it on August 10, but I was in the midst of packing for Brazil. It's a Western Threadsnake, formerly called Blind Snake. I discovered it in the back yard as I was going out late to take the laundry off the line so I could finish packing. A minute baby gecko caught my eye, then the glimmer from this snake. It musked me nicely and squirmed nonstop. It took me 15 mintues to get one still photo.

Other stuff in the yard: Butterflies. At least 15 species, though I spent a total of only 20 minutes in the yard looking. Interesting were territorial individuals of three species of blues on an Australian acacia species. At one time, the three of them were buzzing around each other, vying for the best perch. These are Western Pygmy-Blue, Ceraunus Blue, and Marine Blue, in that order.

This is one of at least three territorial Fatal Metalmarks.

Not too many dragonflies call the yard home, but this Flame Skimmer used the hummingbird feeder stand as a perch to catch the many insects pollinating my Whitebush, Aloyisa gratissima.

And finally, there are some nice plants that have responded to the 8 or so inches of rain we've had in 2 months. This native is a Doubleclaw, Proboscidea parviflora, also known as devil's claw. It's in the Sesame family.

And yes, there are birds. There is a very dominant immature male Rufous Hummingbird who OWNS the two feeders visible from my bedroom/office window. We have 10 feeders in the yard, so the Anna's, Costa's, Black-chins and Broad-bills have plenty of food. It's nice to have five species in the yard. Migrant MacGillivray's and Yellow Warblers are in the yard today, and Purple Martins are flying over every evening.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cristalino Jungle Lodge Butterflies & Birds and Disaster on the Computer Front

Jim Brock and I led the WINGS tour to Cristalino Jungle Lodge from August 15-23. With the exception of the doomed day of August 19, it was a great tour. What happened on August 19? On that day my iBook hard drive gave up the ghost. It froze, a whining fan sound appeared, and I had to force the power off. I tried booting it several times, and it did come on a couple, but then it was extremely slow and would freeze when I tried turning it off. Not good. Meanwhile, 4650 miles to the NW, on the very same day, someone kicked in my back door and ran off with my iMac desktop computer. They also took my USB Transceiver (which I had bought because the older iMacs had a horribly weak antenna), Yamaha P60 electronic piano, piano stand, printer, about $10 in loose change, 108 music CD's, and 8 pieces of frozen Upper Crust pizza (with pepperoni, olives, and anchovies) from my freezer. That sums up to about $4100 worth of stuff they could probably sell for $200 if they're lucky. How many hits of their elixir of choice would that buy? Meanwhile, I lost 2 years of data (my backup habits weren't very good) and a year's worth of photos. I managed to save all my contacts and e-mails, magically.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed some 350 species of butterflies, maybe 250 species of birds, and had a great time in Brazil not worring about anything at all. A sampler:

Red-fan Parrot behind the Floresta Amazonica Hotel in Alta Floresta.

Croesus Eyemark, one of the commoner species that occurs in little groups in the understory.

Soltau-Liberg Private Tour

I did a private tour of three days locally for a good friend from New York City and his friend from San Francisco August 7-9. We had a great time. I'll post just one picture here of a Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake, but on this day (August 8) we saw: Black Bear, Spotted Skunk, Tiger Rattlesnake (3 within 100 yards of each other!), 2 Black-tailed Rattlesnakes, and a Mountain Lion. And some great birds, such as White-eared Hummingbird, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Montezuma Quail, Spotted Owl, Thick-billed Kingbird, and Five-striped Sparrow. What an amazing day.

Bugging in Montosa Canyon

I was home for a short time between tours in late July and early August. One of the first things I did was to join Philip Kline, Eric Eaton, and Margarthe Brummermann for a day of bugging in Montosa Canyon south of Tucson on July 31. We saw about 50 species of butterflies, and many beetles, wasps, grasshoppers, etc. Here's a Glover's Silkmoth that Margarethe found while admiring a cactus.

Oregon: Birds & The Bard

This is the photo sheet from my Oregon: Birds & The Bard tour. On this tour, we met in Portland on June 16, on the 17th traveled down the coast as far as Florence then arrived in Ashland on the 18th in time for a break, dinner and then our first play. Each morning for a week thereafter we went birding, with a picnic breakfast and lunch, and then returned in time for either the 2:00 or the 8:30 play. We ended up seeing all 4 Shakespeare plays and 3 of the non-Shakespeare plays. All were excellent this year. We saw: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coriolanus, Othello and The Comedy of Errors, The Clay Cart (Sûdakra), Our Town (Thornton Wilder), and A View from the Bridge (Arthur Miller). On Monday, when there are no plays, we went as far as Klamath Falls, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and and Fort Klamath (I recommend the quaint Aspen Inn, run by two very friendly women). On Tuesday, we then return to Ashland via Crater Lake National Park. I'm already looking forward to next year's tour, scheduled for July 7 - 17.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Galápagos Islands: The First WINGS Charter

These are the photo sheets I made from the Galapagos cruise I led in early July.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Utah in Late June: American Birding Convention

The week of June 22 I flew to Salt Lake City to help lead field trips for the American Birding Association's annual convention held at the Snowbird resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was a fun week of meeting new people and hanging out with friends in a gorgeous setting. The wildflowers and butterflies were particularly wonderful.

I arrived a day early to spend some time with my younger brother and his family. One of the fun things we did was cruise roads at night for reptiles. This Western Rattlesnake was our best find.

Here are just a very few photo highlights from my field trips.

Callippe Fritillary

prickly pear cactus blossom


A picnic lunch on the Deseret Ranch