Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Unexpected Pleasures of Dragonflying: The Gold Dust Day Gecko

When you're out in the field looking for dragonflies you never know what you might encounter.  Recently, Betsy and I were exploring a botanical garden in Hilo, HI looking for flowers and odonates.  We saw very little in the way of odonates – a Wandering Glider flew by, then we saw a dark damselfly sitting next to a pond being harassed now and then by a yellowish-green damselfly that never sat still for a photo.

What we hadn't expected, though, was the charming little gecko we would find.  Here's a photo of it sitting next to a flower I was photographing:

A gold dust day gecko sitting next to a flower in a Botanical Garden in Hilo, HI.

What a beauty!  I had never seen a gecko that colorful outside the Geico commercials.  It was a bit skittish at first, but it soon got used to me and posed for a few photos.  Here's a good look at its entire body, including the orange markings on the head and hips, the blue booties, and bluish tip of the tail (perhaps a regrowth?)

Gold dust day gecko showing off all its finery.

Here are a couple more shots showing the interesting texture of its skin – like little colored pebbles.

According to the web, these little guys are native to Madagascar and have only fairly recently been introduced to Hawaii, where they are found on most of the main islands.  In Hilo they refer to them as star dust geckos.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Whisperer Speaks

I'll be giving a presentation next week – on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30 pm, to be exact – for the Maricopa Audubon Society.  It will be held at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.  Here's a little blurb for the talk:

I look forward to sharing the enjoyment of dragonflies with lots of nature enthusiasts!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Celestial Field Trip: Comet PanSTARRS

A few years ago I wrote a monthly column for my local Audubon chapter's newsletter entitled "Celestial Field Trips."  The point of the column was that bird watchers (and dragonfly watchers as well) have some pretty impressive optics, and there are lots of things in the night sky that can be observed with the same equipment we use in the daytime to view wildlife.  Binoculars are great for viewing star clusters, comets, and the Moon, while spotting scopes give even better looks at the Moon, plus excellent views of planets and distant galaxies.

Last week, Betsy and I had the opportunity to use our birding/dragonflying optics to view Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4), the latest comet to pass by the Earth.  This comet was just barely naked-eye visible, but in our binoculars it looked like the photo below that I found on the web.  It was a delightful sight, and we were able to share it with others who were hoping to see the comet as well.

Comet PanSTARRS as it appeared in Arizona next to the crescent Moon on March 12, 2013.

So when the Sun goes down, and birding and dragonflying are done for the day, keep in mind that your wonderful optics can open the universe to you every cloudless night.