Tag Archive: nature photography


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This young Forster’s Tern, alongside dozens of others, was partaking in a research project studying the efficacy of a restoration project in Fremont, California. To capture these rambunctious fellas we had to pick them up from their nests, follow them in kayaks and scoop them out of the water, or find their camouflaged little bodies hiding in the small shrubbery by their nests. While they juvenile birds were unhappy being captured, they were released shortly after being weighed and measured and returned to their original nests, after which their parents promptly fed these nagging munchkins.

Snowy Egret

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California Quail

California Quail

California Quail found in, you guessed it, California! Our beloved, charismatic state bird.

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

This bossy Great Blue Heron, like the Great Egret posted previously, was also found at Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary and is one of thousands of birds who benefits from the converted landfill. Having larger bodies and longer legs than most shorebirds, these herons can wade in deeper water and thus have access to more prey which they will often catch by spearing with their long beaks.

Blue Land Crab

Blue Land Crab

This blue land crab with its asymmetrical claws sits guarding a den 200 yards from a Costa Rican beach. A den such as this requires constant tending to ensure the bottom reaches the underlying water table and fills with 1-2 liters of water, allowing the crab to stay moist. Blue land crabs cannot swim but return to the water, risking drowning, to release fertilized eggs into the salty water after carrying them in a sac on the female’s back for two months. This annual migration follows spring rains as well as the lunar cycle – females release their eggs within two days of a full moon. While the chances of survival for these eggs are minuscule, those that reach adulthood will have undergone 60 molts for their carapace (back) to reach 4.3 inches, and males may see their larger claw reach up to 5.9 inches long!

information from: http://www.sms.si.edu/IRLspec/Cardis_guanhu.htm

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Here flutters an Anna’s Hummingbird, we can tell it’s a male because of it’s bright pink gorget (iridescent feathers on the throat that actually extend all the way past the forehead for Anna’s Hummingbirds). Unlike most other species of hummingbird, female Anna’s also have gorgets but they’re much smaller and often diamond-shaped. Anna’s hummingbirds are common in California, Oregon and Washington all the way up to Vancouver and most individuals spend the entire year in these western locations. The average internal temperature of an Anna’s Hummingbird is 107 º F and when the outside temperature drops, as it does on a winter night, individuals will drop their breathing and heart rates and will enter a sort of hibernation until the outside temperature increases, at which time they will take several minutes and then resume normal function and activity. The diets of these ping-pong ball-sized birds consists of insects (including those already caught in spider webs), nectar (even from eucalyptus trees – poisonous to many other species) and tree sap from the holes created by sapsuckers. When mating season begins, female Anna’s Hummingbirds will spend a week constructing nests from spider webs, plant down and insect cocoons and will decorate the outside with lichen and moss, occasionally stolen from other nests. A female will bring a male back to this nest to mate only after an elaborate courtship ritual during which a male will fly upwards 130 feet, plummet downwards and at the last minute turn up and create a chirp through its tail feathers, all the while orienting itself so that it’s iridescent feathers flash pink to the female. Both females and males may mate with multiple individuals during a single breeding season and the female alone will raise the young.

Russell, S. M. 1996. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)In The Birds of North America, No. 226 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America Online, Ithaca, New York

Eyelash Pit Viper

Eyelash Pit Viper

Another creature captured in Costa Rica, this eyelash pit viper carries venom in its hinged, hollow fangs. Eyelash vipers have many color variations including brown, red, and yellow like this one, and are named for the scales above their eyes resembling eyelashes and the heat-sensitive pits between their eyes and nostrils that allow them to sense prey. Unlike most other species of snakes, eyelash vipers have rough, not smooth, scales that protect the snake while meandering through its arboreal habitat. These snakes are also ovoviviparous; fertilized eggs develop inside the mother and hatchlings are either born live or immediately after eggs are laid. Interestingly, a single clutch of eggs may contain vipers of every color variation. Eyelash pit vipers were, quite happily, removed from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) threatened list in 2002.

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

Golden silk orb-weaver spiders are found all over Costa Rica (they range between the southern United States to Argentina), spinning their webs with golden silk so strong it is used by locals as fishing line and by some hummingbirds as nest material. This particular spider is a female, as the males are five to six times smaller. The golden silk produced by these orb-weavers is currently being tested as a stronger alternative to Kevlar, the fiber used in bullet-proof vests.

Ring-billed Gulls

Ring-billed Gulls

A group of ring-billed gulls posing elegantly on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA.