Utah and Colorado. Wildlife is great and all, and who doesn’t want to see animals in their natural habitat? There is something disconcerting, however, when you see these kinds of signs in the areas you will be camping or hiking. It’s even worse that the advice they post is pretty dang ridiculous — in that you’d actually be able to perform these death prevention techniques. Continue reading
Goleta Beach, California, USA. Seagulls may squawking scavengers, but I love to watch them soar. My kids especially like seagulls because the birds are fun to stalk. Ultimately, I appreciate seagulls because they tell me that water, in particular the ocean, is close.
East Beach, Santa Barbara, CA, USA.
Goleta Beach, California, USA.
Pikes Peak Parking Lot, Denver International Airport, United States. Often people think of Colorado as an idyllic setting for wildlife. However, usually an airport parking lot is not part of the wildlife landscape. I guess you never know — some bunny or bird of prey with longing in their eyes may approach, prompting you to give them some “drive-thru” McDonald’s morsels.
Poncha Springs, Colorado. Hunting is a prevalent activity in the west, and many hunters turn to taxidermists to display the ultimate evidence of their favorite pastime. Of course, as most people know, the animal is dead and stuffed.
I realize Real Wilderness Taxidermy’s sign uses quotes for “real,” but this still just doesn’t seem like the best word choice. In fact, they could substitute “lifelike” for real. That would even create some parallelism with “lifetime.” As a geeky English teacher, this makes perfect sense to me.
I’ve always liked zoos; in fact, I was a junior zookeeper when I was in seventh grade, living in Santa Barbara, California. However, nothing quite compares to seeing animals in their natural habitat — in the wild (albeit some are in wildlife preserves.) The photo of the hippo (above) and the other photos of African animals were taken by my dad in Tanzania. I think they are fantastic and I feel as if I’ve seen the creatures myself. Someday I will get to Africa, until then, I’ll look at photos.
The other photos are various pictures I took on our travels.
Tanzania, Africa. A mother lion and her cubs.
Tanzania, Africa. An elephant herd.
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. I’m here with my dad and a python who was getting a little too friendly at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. For some reason, it chose my crotch and the top of my thigh as a secure anchor for its wanderings.
From the look on my face, you may think I was enjoying this a bit more than necessary. Actually, I had a lot of nervous energy going…especially since the snake decided to live up to its cousin’s name and become a boa around my neck.
July 2010, Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia. The largest fish in the world is swimming at about three miles per hour, but it’s hard, even with fins, to keep up with the 20-foot-long behemoth. A huge happy looking fish with white polka dots sprinkled over its expansive back, the whale shark lumbers leisurely through the cloudy water.
Occasionally, it opens its mouth to feed on plankton. A large nonthreatening interior with a noticeable absence of razor sharp rows of teeth is revealed. In fact, it almost looks like white cushions line the inside of the whale shark’s billowing jaws.
This is crazy. I can’t believe I’m sauntering along in the Indian Ocean with a whale shark. And we are swimming in some very deep open water — 80 meters (262 feet) — to be exact. In fact, I can’t look down or around. I stare at my new friend, the whale shark, and kick hard.
I fall back as the whale shark slowly shifts. Once behind the massive fish, I see them: the same foreboding, angular tail and dorsal fin that have menaced and terrified people on the big screen and the Discovery Channel for years. The tail looks like a large iron boomerang steadily moving back and forth.
“Mommmm! SPIDER! Mom, Come PLEASE!” My five-year-old daughter Kasey yells from the bathroom. Expecting to see a huge bulbous glossy black widow, I mach-5 it to the bathroom. “Where?!!” I’m looking for one to be dangling from the ceiling or clinging to the toilet. “Where, honey?”
Kasey points to the base of the bathtub at what looks like a tiny clump of newly sheared whiskers from Kurt’s Norelco shaver. It is a spider — a really miniscule spider. “Mom, KILL it!!” Kasey screams while she simultaneously holds my leg and peers down at the monster.
“I think we’ll let this guy go.” I reach down with a tissue to gently lift the little spider up and then I head (with Kasey still clinging to my leg) out to the back door to free him in our Colorado yard. “Mom don’t touch it!!!”
Magpies, it seems, are iconic and demonic at the same time. In the past, they have been viewed in Chinese culture as birds who bring good luck and joy. In many Western cultures, the magpie has had more sinister qualities and has even symbolized evil like its cousin the raven.
This good vs. evil framework works well in sports. Magpies are often mascots for athletic teams (e.g. the Australian Rules Football teams, Victoria’s Collingwood Magpies and the South Australia National Football League’s Port Adelaide Magpies just to name a few.) Scavengers and survivors, magpies are quite intelligent and definitely deserve a certain amount of respect.
Holding the soft, fuzzy animal that I had been somewhat obsessed with since childhood, I became overwhelmed — not by emotion as I thought might happen, but by an abhorrent stench. It was a combination of dried urine and eucalyptus oil. Was this really the case? How could my favorite animal, a cute and cuddly koala, smell so bad?