Saturday, November 09, 2013

Madagascar: A Preview

I just got back from a two week vacation to Madagascar.  The primary reason for going there was to explore nature and check out all the amazing wildlife that it has to offer.  Someone once told me that Madagascar was the Galapagos on steroids.  Given all that I saw after this fairly short trip, I tend to agree.

Here are some sample pictures.  Longer trip reports will be posted after I find the time to sort through all the photos (nearly 3000 were taken).

Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi)

Giraffe Weevil (Trachelophorus giraffa)

Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone mutata)

Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata)

Laundry Day in Southern Madagascar

To be continued...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chia Sink

Maybe a week ago, I had a homemade smoothie with chia seeds added to it.  The smoothie was great and the chia seeds, while they don't taste like much, give it some nutritional boost.  And, for anyone that's had chia seeds before, you know that it's pretty easy to have some seeds get stuck between your teeth.

What do you do?  Well, you rinse out your mouth.  And, as you'd imagine a few small seeds fall out and get washed down the drain.  However, if you have a drain strainer, it doesn't always work that way.

So, recently I've noticed my drain isn't draining too well, and I just chalked it up to it getting gunked up over time.  To my amazement, upon closer inspection, some of those chia seeds had sprouted and began growing.

Talk about resilience.  These seeds have managed to survive the drain hole hazard, managed to hang on to life despite being inundated with mouthwash (Listerine even!), toothpaste, soap, and hot water.  I pulled the drain strainer out to take a picture of the sprouts and their long roots.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Lava Beds National Monument

For part of the extended 4th of July weekend, I camped out at the Lava Beds National Monument. There are many caves that you can explore there, and there's plenty of stuff to see and do.  But, it's not that large, so you probably wouldn't want to stay out there for too long (two days is enough).  And, unless spelunking is your thing, after you adventure into half a dozen caves, you probably won't feel an urge to check out more of them.  Nevertheless, it was a cool experience.

Also, make sure to bring a hard hat or helmet and also don't forget flashlights.  While you can borrow them from the visitor center, it limits your exploration times as you need to return the borrowed items fairly early.  One more thing... even if it is summertime and the temperatures are high, be sure to bring at least a light jacket as it can get surprisingly cold inside some of the caves.

Here are some pictures I took.  The insect pictures are starting to look a bit better now that I have an actual macro lens.

Please enjoy!

Lava Beds National Monument Entrance Sign

Crawling around in the Balcony and Boulevard Caves

Entrance to the Big Painted Cave

Crawling into a tight spot in the Golden Dome Cave

Inside the Heppe Ice Cave

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) inside the Heppe Ice Cave

Jot Dean Cave in the Shasta-Trinity Forests

Another picture of the icy Jot Dean Cave in the Shasta-Trinity Forests

Medicine Lake

Boreal Toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) at Medicine Lake

Modoc Volcanic Scenic Byway 

Skull Cave - It's pretty large... look at the tiny people down there.

Valentine Cave - One path leads to death, the other to riches.

Valentine Cave - A cool drop of water.

Nice looking leaf outside one of the caves.

American Bluet (Enallagma)

Crimson-ringed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia glacialis)

Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis) in Hidden Valley

Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus)

Metallic Green Bee (Agapostemon)

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Robber Fly (Asilidae)

Different Angle of the same Robber Fly (Asilidae)

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

Another Variegated Meadowhawk 2 (Sympetrum corruptum)

Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla)

Western Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum)

Western Pondhawk (Erythemis collocata)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bahamas - Diving and Snorkeling

So, I went to the Bahamas over the holiday weekend for some relaxation.  Did some diving and snorkeling while out there - Atholl Island, Runway Reef (Stuart Cove).  One of the dives was a cage-free shark dive where a dive master in chain mail was feeding the sharks while all the divers sat in a ring to watch the activity.

Anyway, here are all the different creatures for which I was able to snap reasonably good photos.  There is a sponge and also some translucent jelly-like creature that I wasn't able to identify with any confidence.  If you happen to know what they are, please let me know!


Atlantic Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus)

Bar Jack (Carangoides ruber)

Black Sea Rod (Plexaurella homomalla)

Blue Chromis (Chromis cyanea)

Bluehead (Thalassoma bifasciatum) and Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) - Initial Phases

Bluehead - Terminal Phase (Thalassoma bifasciatum)

Bluestriped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus)

Brown Chromis (Abudefduf taurus)

Caribbean Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus perezii)

Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus)

Creole Wrasse (Clepticus parrae)

Erect Rope Sponge (Amphimedon compressa)

Foureye Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus)

French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Gray Angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus)

Green Razorfish (Xyrichtys splendens)

Grooved Brain Coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis)

Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus)

Netted Barrel Sponge (Verongula gigantea) - maybe?

Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Ocean Surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus)

Sea Plumes (Pseudopterogorgia)

Shark Arena - Cage-free Shark Dive at Stuart Cove

Slippery Dick - Juvenile (Halichoeres bivittatus)

Smooth Trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

Social Feather Duster Bristleworm (Bispira brunnea)

Spanish Hogfish (Bodianus rufus)

Spotfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ocellatus)

Spotted Goatfish (Pseudupeneus maculatus)

Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) - Terminal Phase

Tobacco Basslet (Serranus tabacarius)

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)

Unknown Translucent Creature (?) - maybe Pyrosoma atlanticum

Whitefin Sharksucker (Echeneis neucratoides)

Yellow Stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis)

Yellow Tube Sponge (Aplysina insularis)

Yellowtail Damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema)

Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus)