Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cabo Pulmo Critters

Walking back up from the beach after diving, I glanced over at a large bush sized cactus to see a fair sized lizard sitting on a branch. It look somewhat like an iguana, about a foot long, maybe more with the tail. I only had my underwater camera with me so no pictures unfortunately. When we got closer it moved deeper inside the cactus plant. I went back multiple times to look for it, but didn't see it again.

Then when we were having supper I spotted movement in the garden beside the patio and there was a large beetle clambering over the grass. It had one “horn” on the top of it’s head and another two pronged “horn” coming out of the the front. (I think it was a rhinoceros beetle) It was 3 or 4 cm long. Again, I didn’t have my camera, and besides it was dark.

A few minutes later, as we were walking back to our casita, something moved at my feet. It could have been a leaf but the movement looked different so I stopped and aimed my headlamp down. It was a tiny toad (or frog, but there’s no fresh water so toad seems more likely). It was about 1 cm long. I moved it off the path, but again, frustratingly, no camera and no light.

The next morning, heading back to the same restaurant for breakfast, another tiny toad jumped at my feet. And when I knelt down there was a second. This time I had my camera, and a reasonable amount of light. One of the locals asked what we had found and when we told her, she said there are lots of them. That seems surprising in what’s pretty much desert. There must be enough water at certain times for their tadpoles to develop. I assume these were juveniles, based on the size. (Thanks to Shelley for providing the hand!)

small toad

Soon after we got to the restaurant I noticed something green in the center of the floor. Probably a leaf, but maybe not? I asked Shelley to look at it (her eyes are better than mine!) and she said she wasn't sure what it was, but it was moving. So I went to check it out and it was a praying mantis! I was excited since I find them fascinating and you don't encounter them very often. I picked it up and carried it back to the wall beside our table (they are relatively slow moving unless they decide to fly) It was still early and the light was a bit dim, but using the camera flash to fill in, I got some decent photos. This one was 5 or 6 cm long (about 2 inches)

praying mantis

praying mantis

There were a lot of flies around and I was tempted to try to catch one, pull off its wings, and offer it to the praying mantis. But I figured that was a little gruesome and probably wouldn't work anyway.

While I was taking photos of the praying mantis an interesting wasp landed on my camera case so I grabbed a few shots of it as well.


We saw a variety of birds, most of which I didn't manage to photograph. This one appears to be a flame colored tanager, although my bird app doesn't include Baja in its range.

Flame colored tanager (?)

There were also lots of butterflies, probably because of all the flowers planted around the hotel and houses. They didn't like to sit still to have their pictures taken, but I managed to catch a few of them. I think this is a monarch. (On a positive note, I've seen reports that the number of monarchs overwintering in Mexico this year is up.)


And maybe some kind of swallowtail?


I found quite a variety of these small colorful spiders, but it was hard to photograph the between their size (about the size of a chocolate chip) and the wind moving their web. This one might be a spiny orb weaver?


I like the designs and patterns of the cactus. (And they have the advantage of not moving!)


We've had some great sunsets during this trip. We encountered this sky filling array of colorful clouds on our way to supper one evening. (I know, this doesn't fit the "critter" title, but I'm throwing it in anyway.)


These shots were all taken with the Nikon 18 - 300 lens  - an amazingly versatile lens. I love it for travel. It handles everything from wide angle landscapes, to telephoto birds, to macro insects. Lens fanatics will tell you it's not the best at any of those things but given the flexibility I think it does pretty darn well.

For more photos, see all 23 as a slideshow or overview

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