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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Leaping Robber Fly

Robber flies are fast, fearless, and ferocious predators of the insect world. I thought it might be interesting to get a few photos of these little guys flying since they were fairly common where I was working in the high-desert of Washington.

Interesting yes, easy no.....

For an insect that has extremely agile flight capabilities, it sure is stubborn about not flying when ever I had my camera around. I did manage to get one leaping into flight from a patch of soil, but it took two days...

Predacious robber fly (Efferia sp.)

I had to take an occasional break from the frustrating robber flies, so I took advantage of the wild mariposa lilies that were making their annual appearance.

sagebrush Mariposa lily (Calochortus macrocarpus)

Sagebrush Mariposa lily (Calochortus macrocarpus)

Sagebrush Mariposa lily (Calochortus macrocarpus)

And managed to photograph a small native anthidium bee near a Salt heliotrope (Heliotropium Curassavicum) flower.
Anthidium bee (Anthidium sp)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wet Side / Dry Side

Its hard to believe that I have dropped the ball here for so long. Its not for lack of work, but more a case of too much. I am beginning to get a little caught up, and have lots of stuff to share.

From this Spring: I found myself in the interesting position of traveling, in a matter of a couple of days, from the wet coastal forest in Oregon to the hot desert of Central Washington.

Red-legged frogs are slowly disappearing, thanks to the introduced mississippi bullfrog, so it was a pleasure to come across two of them on property managed by The North Coast Land Conservancy along Circle Creek.

Red-legged frog / Rana aurora)

A remote camera also had an unexpected visit from a black bear during a rain storm. This camera was set-up to photograph skunks, but this american black bear seemed curious about the set-up. I was absolutely surprised that the camera was untouched by this visitor considering how close she came to the wide angle lens.

American black bear / Ursus americanus)

Two days later I was in the hot, dry desert of Central Washington working along the basalt cliffs. As the sun sets, life begins to stir among the crags and cracks of the cliffs.



Pallid bat / Antrozous pallidus)

Bats love the extreme heat that builds up along these southern facing cliffs, and as the evening cools they emerge to begin hunting insects.

(Western small-footed bat / Myotis ciliolabrum)

Pallid Bat / Antrozous pallidus)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Seminole Bat (Lasiurus seminolus)

With the wonderful help of Leigh Stuemke, I went out into the wilderness of East Texas and photographed seminole bats. Like so many bats, there are many mysteries about the life habits of seminole bats, but they are beautiful animals with striking features.



It was a warm and humid evening with fireflies and frogs. A cottonmouth was curled up next to the pond where we set-up the gear. This was only a few days after hurricane Ike devastated Galveston, and we had to navigate around downed trees to make our way into the Stephen F Austin Experimental forest.

I can only wonder how such a small creature could survive a monster storm, tucked into some small crevice, or under the bark of a swaying tree.


Bats are quick and lovely, and I never fail to be amazed by them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nurse Log

Or stump actually. New trees often find the rotting corpses of dead trees to be a rich source of nutrients. Forest litter gathers in the niches and crevices of rotting wood, constantly adding more to the stew of decay that nourishes trees.

In this case, young trees are growing out of the stumps of trees harvested 70 years ago, so they are remnant stumps, not logs. The wet temperate rain forest along the north Oregon coast helps the stumps to break down at an accelerated rate. In this case, western hemlock seedlings gained purchase and grew to adult trees suckling on the dead stumps.

The result is rather sculptural, and I dragged some heavy duty studio lights into the forest so I could highlight some of the more interesting visual
characteristics of the nurse logs.


Here a western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is balancing on the rotting stump of a douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)


Below - A sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) stump is surrounded by adult western hemlock trees, The roots still piercing the rotten wood of the stump.


Decaying trees are mini ecosystems unto themselves, providing shelter and food for fungi, lichen, small mammals, birds and untold populations of invertebrates. Below, a biologist holds the large larva of a giant root borer (Prionus californicus), which burrows through soft wood of various trees.


The stumps were photographed at property managed by the North Coast Land Conservancy not far from the Necanicum River on the northern Oregon Coast.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Foggy Coast, Haystack Rock

Passing through the Costal Mountains from Portland on the way to the beach on a recent morning, heavy fog had settled into the valleys.

misty mountains, oregon coast range

Mist is a common occurrence in the coastal mountains, but usually as you get closer to the beach the wind coming in from the Pacific clears out the fog. But on this trip, I noticed the the rare absence of any breeze along the coast.

foggy haystack rock
haystack rock, cannon beach, oregon.

Haystack Rock, an old remnant basalt monolith that emerges from the surf near Cannon Beach, has been photographed about one hundred quadzillion times over the past century. However, it was such a rare atmosphere that it was a pleasure to hike out and capture a few images as the sun set.

Haystack Rock along the Oregon Coast.
haystack rock marine garden, oregon.

Haystack Rock is designated a Marine Garden by the Oregon Division Of Fish and Wildlife above the high-tide line, and it is also part of the Oregon Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Haystack Rock at sunset
haystack rock, oregon island national wildlife refuge.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bat Skeleton

I photographed this bat skeleton some time ago, but the image sat in my cataloging folder until I could get the post processing done.

Bats are such delicate creatures, and yet so beautifully put together. Their evolution is slowly being revealed by the fossil record and genetics.


I was hoping to illustrate the delicate nature of the skeleton, and yet show the dynamic flexibility of a flying mammal. I'm not so sure I was successful, and the tiny wing bones made the whole process very challenging. It will have to do for now.


This bat is a different species than the skeleton, but has a similar build. No matter what I tried, I could not come close to the elegance of a live flying bat that is shown here.
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Details About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer