Friday, August 26, 2011

Toroweap - August 25, 2011

This is the most famous view of Toroweap Point. It is 3000' down to the river.

We saw our little Coyote friend when we stopped for a restroom break at the Ranger Station.
It was busy hunting mice and didn't pay us much attention.

I caught this little lizard during our lunch break.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Autotomy - self amputation

In the spring of 2011, I came upon a lizard while parked at Red Pass on the Titus Canyon Road in Death Valley National Park. It was early spring and still a little chilly so the lizard was easy to catch. However, as I caught it, it took off to run away and I got ahold of its tail. Immediately, the tail came off and fell to the ground as the lizard escaped. The tail started to squirm and wiggle. This is a natural defense mechanism in the lizard called Autotomy.
Below is a youtube video of the experience with the lizard at Red Pass.

From - the spontaneous casting off of a limb or other body parts such as the tail of certain lizards or the claw of a lobster, especially when the organism is injured or under attack.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Autotomy (from the greek auto = self, and tomy = severing)
or self amputation is the act whereby an animal severs one or more of its own appendages, usually as a self defense mechanism designed to elude a predators grasp. The lost body part may be regenerated later.

This is a Mediterranean Gecko that Bryan caught in our yard. I was photographing it and accidently grabbed its tail and it came off. The tail quivered for about 4 or 5 minutes until it stopped. In the wild the quivering tail would draw the attention of the predator so that the lizard or gecko could escape.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everyone needs a little break now and then!

I spent last week up in Sitka, Alaska. I lived there for 12 years with my family. We moved to the Las Vegas area in August of 2007 so I left about 4 years ago. I hadn't been back since we left.

It was nice to see old friends and remember old memories.

The following is a photo journal of my trip. The funny thing is that as the Mojave Desert is the hottest, driest desert in the Western Hemisphere, Southeastern Alaska is the largest temperate rain forest in the world.

Whale-watching in Sitka Sound
This is the tail flukes of a Humpback Whale as it is starting a deep dive to feed.

Starting a hike up the Verstovia Trail. One of my favorite hikes in Sitka.

Looking down on a drizzly Sitka from the top of Verstovia.
Elevation: 2,550' above sea level

Bryan and Brad just down from the summit.

A photo of "Kilisnu" out at the Fortress Of The Bears

We finally got a glorious sunshiny day! This is at John Brown's Beach, a neat little beach on the North end of Japonski Island.

John Brown's Beach

Green anemone's in a tidal pool at John Brown's beach.

Brad with beautiful Sitka waterfront in the background

Herring Cove Trail from Herring Cove to Beaver Lake.
Beaver Lake in the background.

Desert Bighorn Ram in the Valley of Fire

I took this photo on July 26, 2011 and am very proud of it. First of all, he was a little hard to spot because he was quite a ways away. We spotted him first closer to the road, but when we approached for a better photo, he got up and wandered away. Later, on the way back through that area I spotted him laying down again but in a much more majestic place.

(Right click twice for a close-up)

We cannot overlook the importance of wild country as a source of inspiration,
to which we give expression in writing, in poetry, drawing and painting, in mountaineering,
or in just being there.

Olaus Murii

Aposematism - Warning Coloration

(This info is from Wikipedia)

Aposematism is a secondary defense mechanism that warns potential predators of the existence of another primary defensive mechanism.

The organism's primary means of defense may include:

UNPALATABILITY: such as from the bitter taste arising from some insects such as the ladybird or tiger moth, or the noxious odor produced by the skunk, or:

OTHER DANGERS: such as the poison glands of the poison dart frog, the sting of a velvet ant or neurotoxin in a black widow spider.

In these particular examples, the organism advertises its capabilities via either bright coloration in the case of the ladybird, frog and spider: or by conspicuous stripes in the case of the skunk. Various types of tiger moths advertise their unpalatability by either producing ultrasonic noises which warn bats to avoid them, of by warning postures which expose brightly colored body parts. (see unkenreflex)

Velvet ants have both bright colors and produce audible noises when grabbed (via stridulation), which serves to reinforce the warning.

Aposematic signals are primarily visual and involve bright and contrasting colors. They may be accompanied by one or more signals other than color. These may be specific odors, sounds, or behavior. Together, the predator encounters a multi modal signal which is more effectively detected.

A Master Blister Beetle is unpalatable and has bright red markings. I took this photo at the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

A Tarantula Hawk warns of its painful sting with its bright orange wings. I took this photo at Eagle Point, Grand Canyon West.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Year of the Baby

The last couple of years have been wetter than the normal during the 10 year drought. I think the extra water is causing reptiles and mammals to reproduce more than normal. It sure seems like it to me, anyway. Here are some of my photos of juveniles.

I came upon this juvenile Tortoise in the River Mountains in the spring.

Came upon this little Cottontail on the same trip as the Tortoise.

Spotted this little guy in my back yard.

This is a very young Chuckwalla that I caught in Valley of Fire. I think it is only 5 or 6 weeks old.