Posts in Category: mammal

Stoat!

Stoat: Kennebunk, Maine, USA, June 2022 — Sad story warning! I am pretty sure this is a Stoat, or Short-Tailed Weasel, often called an Ermine in the winter when its coat, with the exception of the black tip of the tail, turns bright white. The only other possibility is the Long-tailed Weasel, which we also have in Maine. I think the white feet, just visible at the front, and the length of the tail make this a Stoat. I will admit, until yesterday I did not know we had Stoats in Maine. This one, as you can see, was sitting exactly in the middle of the road, just a few houses down from us, when I was leaving on my eTirke for a grocery run. I quickly circled back and around to see what it was. I was thinking weasel, or mink, or maybe a young fisher. I was sure it would be gone from the road by the time I got my camera out, but it stayed there, alert but apparently in no hurry to get off the yellow line. It even sat there, unmoving, as a truck and several cars came by, missing it by inches. When I showed my photo to Google Lens, the intelligence in the cloud suggested Stoat, so of course, I had to do more research, and discovered that they are quite common in Maine, even here along the coast. My only other Stoat encounter was in the pages of Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows”, where, if you remember, the Stoats and Weasels are cast as the bad guys. As you might imagine, this real-life story did not end well for the Stoat in the middle of the road. Eventually a driver jigged when he or she probably intended to jag, the Stoat panicked and moved off the yellow line, and went under the wheel. With a good deal of sadness (and not a little guilt about what I might have done differently to save the Stoat), I moved it off the road, but it was too late. Later, after discovering it had been a Stoat, in memory of the Stoats of Wild Wood in “The Wind in the Willows”, I took a shovel out and buried it in our own wild wood across the street. While I am sure Stoats are ruthless hunters, and I would not want one in my hen run (if I had a hen run), they are beautiful little creatures, and this one certainly deserved better. And let this be a lesson to all Stoats. Cars do, on occasion, cross the yellow line!

Beaver!

Beaver: Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Plains Nature Conservancy, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — While looking for early dragonflies and damsels at Day Brook Pond, I was delighted to see this Beaver beavering along across the pond, drawing a long wake. I am pretty sure Day Brook Pond has a man-made dam these days, but it was clearly originally a beaver pond and the beavers are still there and still active. You can see their work around the edges somewhere most springs. This one was in a rush to get up into the little inlet half way up the pond. He disappeared behind the near foliage just after I took this shot. Sony Rx10iv at 580mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed and enlarged in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

White-face Capuchin

White-faced Capuchin Monkey: Neily, Costa Rica — After two nights at Danta Corcovado Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, we loaded the bus and headed for San Vito and the Wilson Botanical Gardens on the Las Cruces Biologial Research Station of the Organization for Tropical Studies. Along the way we stopped at long bridge in Neily. These shots of the White-faced Capuchin monkeys were taken from mid-bridge. The second shot was very difficult lighting…with the monkey back in the deep shade against the trunk of the tree, in a little hollow in the foliage, surrounded by really bright sun, barely visible to the naked eye. I added 1.7EV exposure compensation to penetrate the shadows, but that totally burned out the fonds in the sun. I did my best to adjust it in post processing, and it is an okay shot to record the memory…but not something I an inordinately proud of 🙂 The Capuchins were are our 4th primate for the trip. Sony Rx10iv at 600 and 517mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. The first shot is ISO 320 @ f4 @ 1/500th, the second is at ISO 800 @ f4 @ 1/500th with, as I mentioned, + 1.7EV.

Spider Monkey!

Spider Monkey: Rio Rincon near Danta Corcovado Lodge, Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica — I had never seen the Spider Monkey in Costa Rica…and on my one trip to the Amazon, I was sick aboard the river boat when they were seen in Peru…so I was delighted when we spotted a few in a very tall tree beside the Rincon as we drove our tractor and wagon up the riverbed on our way deep into Corcovado National Park. The Spider Monkey, despite it’s somewhat delicate look when compared to the more common Howler Monkey, is actually the largest of the primates in Costa Rica. Though we never got a really unobstructed view of the Spider, you can see the length of the arms and at least glimpse the length of the tail. This is an animal made for moving rapidly through the canopy. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 125 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Honduran White Tent-making Bats with Cope

Honduran White Tent-making Bats: Gaupiles, Costa Rica — when we go looking for the owls with Cope, I always ask him to find us some bats. Honduran White Tent-making Bats roost in “tents” they make by chewing along the stem of large heliconia leaves until they droop down on both sides…making a shelter where the bats can spend the day. They use the same “tent” for a few days and then move on to another, so the understory in the second growth forest where the owls live, is full of abandoned bat tents…the trick is to find one they are still using. Cope is in the forest daily, so he generally knows where the bats have been roosting and has never failed to find us an active tent. Sometimes there will be half a dozen bats under the leaf, sometimes, as it happened this year, just a couple. As you can see from the photo, the bats were not asleep…just hunkered down…but I was not the first one to photograph them…a process that involves getting down on your knees under the leaf without touching the leaf, pointing your camera up at the them, and then getting back up, again without touching the leaf (not aways easy at my age)…so we may have woken them from their nap already. At any rate, I rate the bat experience right up there with finding the owls roosting, and it is one of the reasons I take my groups back to Donde Cope each year. Sony Rx10iv at 115mm equivalent. Program mode with wildlife modifications and multi-frame noise reduction. Light provided by Cope’s flashlight. Processed in Pixomator Photo and apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 800 @ f4 @ 1/250th.

Howler

Howler Monkey: from a boat on the Sarapiqui River near Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. We saw 4 species of primate during our two weeks in Costa Rica…not counting the ubiquitous humans…but only had really good looks at this troop of Howlers along the Sarapiqui river. Of course, we heard the Howlers every morning, between 4:30 and 5am, at lodges in both the Caribbean and Pacific lowlands. I was somewhat surprised to find that the Howlers are not the largest monkeys in Costa Rica…a fact that does not seem to be causing this particular Howler much worry…so I guess it should not worry me. (The Spider Monkey is larger.) The thing about primates, at least for me, is that they appear to be self-conscious, which makes me more than usually aware of our kinship. Sony Rx10iv at 509mm equivalent (to fit the tail in). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 1000 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Porcupine, and a cautionary tale

North American Porcupine: Wells Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farms, Wells, Maine, USA — As I came to the junction of the Piliger Trail and the Laudholm Connector there was a family standing just beyond under the old apple trees, with cell phones out, looking into the deeper brush, so of course, I had to go see what they were seeing. Nothing much they said, just a porcupine in the apple tree. And indeed, there was one, out on a branch asleep when I first saw it. Not easy to see as it blended well with the bark of the tree. I (again, of course), took hundreds of photos from all different angles, mostly trying to get a clear shot of the face. It is pretty rare in my experience to see a healthy porcupine right out in plain sight (as opposed to flattened the road). In fact, my last “out in the open” sighing of a porcupine was the Mexican Porcupine in Honduras many years ago. When I had my photos, I left the porcupine to the attention of others who had come down the path after me. Going up the hill toward the Knight Trail and back to my eTrike, I was pretty full of the experience (and myself to be honest) and decided to take a look at a few of the photos on the back of the camera just to check if I had ever really gotten the face. The face is easily lost, black on black within the gray cowl of the quills. “NO CARD, CAN NOT DISPLAY” What? This was not a good time for the camera to tell me that! Not useful at all. Very disappointing. I mean, why not tell me that when I took my first photo of the porcupine? This is not the first time this has happened to me, but the first time when the photos really mattered to me. I mean, really, my porcupine shots? Not that it would have done me any good if the camera had been more forthcoming. I stopped carrying a second card when out on my eTrike several months ago. That is a bad habit I will now make every effort to break. Always carry a spare card! Sigh! So I trudged back to the apple tree. The porcupine was still there, though it had, under the pressure of less cautions observation (there were a lot of folks using the trail that day), retreated down the branch toward the safety of the crotch of the tree, where it had taken refuge. I was just a bit chagrined to be among the cell phone photographers, but I put my Sirui 60mm portrait lens on my iPhone SE and got as close as I felt good about to take my shots. Nothing great, but I did get the face. This shot has been through Pixomator Pro’s ML Super Resolution treatment to simulate a longer telephoto, as well as being processed in Apple Photos. So folks, always carry a spare card! You never know when you will see something very special in the wild.

Another of the Alwive Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: Alwive Pond Preserve, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Another shot of the Red Squirrel I encountered on my way out from Alwive Pond the other day. In processing this one I noticed that he has all four paws off the tree…so mid leap. I really like the out of focus branch in the background of this series. Also notice the back patch in his tail. Red Squirrel are highly variable in color and color pattern, but i have not seen this back spot in the tail before. A very handsome squirrel. Sony Rx10iv at 400mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Another low light shot. ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/400th.

Red returns again

Red Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Another pose of our visiting Red Squirrel. I told the story yesterday. I took about 120 frames and saved a dozen or so, of the different poses. This fists up pose is his defensive, or maybe aggressive, posture when he was attempting to dispute the ownership of our back deck with me. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 418mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 1000 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Nothing is safe from a Red Squirrel

Carol called me from the bedroom where I was setting up for my morning qi gong. I thought she said “I think there is a dead squirrel here…” so I came to look…turns out she said “I think there is a Red Squirrel here…” and, indeed, there was. A highly caffeinated Red Squirrel at that. In the 10 minutes or so it was on our deck, it was everywhere, and into everything…all very rapid…a lightning raid before it scampered off. Red Squirrels must live in the surrounding woodlands, but they only appear in our yard once or twice a year, at least while we are looking. Just as well too, since nothing is safe from a Red Squirrel…we have come to an uneasy truce with our resident Grey Squirrels and Chipmunks (we are host to at least 4 squirrels and what sometimes seems to the hundreds, but is more likely dozens of Eastern Chipmunks), but the Red Squirrel is another beast altogether and no “squirrel proof” feeding solution will even mildly discourage them. Still, they are undeneighably cute with their rusty tail, little round ears and big round eyes…and those little paws…and it was fun to watch one scamper all over our deck and feeders…for a change…once in a great while. Sony Rx10iv at 500-600mm equivalent…through the thermopane glass of our deck door. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. And, of course, before full sun-up so the light was a problem.