While I am in a thanking mood I cannot forget to thank Alpana ( kind of like Cher, only her first name is needed) she honored me with the Awesome Blogger Award. Up until now the only person who said I was awesome was Phyllis lol. Okay now on to our BIG GAME HUNT
Most nature photographers' dreams are to visit Africa and photograph the lions, tigers, elephants and other big game. I like many others might never get there but I still think of it, wondering what it would be like; to see a sea of gazelles running across the open landscape or a pride of lions hunting.
I saw one of those travel channel programs that featured Africa the other day. It was early morning in Florida, the temperature was moderate with the hint of a warm day coming. I stood out on my screened in room looking out at my backyard and the blooming flowers in our garden. They are hibiscus and I just planted them. Phyllis and I really love the color and delicate looking flowers of this plant. I went out to get a better look at them.
A few plants had new blooms on them. One is a red variety and the other yellow. The two flowers do not really look like the same plant but they are both a hibiscus. While I was admiring the colors of this flower, something moved quickly in the back of my garden and caught my attention. When I saw what was jumping around, I was not surprised. It was one of the lizards that live in our yard. There are many all over the property. You see them in the gardens, on the driveway, the lawn and the house itself. They are actually of the variety Brown Anole.
I laughed and thought, wait a minute, here is my big game hunt right in my backyard! I literally ran back into the house to grab my camera, my trusty 70-200 VR lens and my tripod. The anole had moved as I feared but that was good for now, the hunt was on; I the big game hunter and this little anole playing the part of the cunning lion. Okay I have a very active imagination but it was early morning, I already had written my blog (fed the monster) and I needed something to keep my interest :). Besides, you know what my motto is ABS.
At that moment, I wished that I had one of those pith helmets and safari clothes that I would see Marlin Perkins wearing on all those travelogs TV programs in the 1960s. Actually, Marlin stayed safe in the TV studio while Jim Fowler actually went in search of lions and tigers. I remember Marlin, from the safety of his TV studio prodding Jim to go see what made that bush move.
"Go ahead Jim, why don't you walk into the underbrush and see if that large angry lion in still there. Oh how I wish I could be there with you!" I always thought Jim had a look on his face like he was thinking, "Well, get off your ass and come out here. I don't mind sitting in the cozy studio". I always wondered in Marlin had found out that Jim was fooling around with Marlin's wife and this was his way of getting rid of him. "OK Jim, I have heard that rhinos like having their chins scratched, why don't you find out?" Jim would have this look on his face like he wanted to scratch Marlin's chin with a bullet.
But I digress. You regular readers of this blog know I do that sometimes. Back to the Anoles in the darkness of my garden. Well actually, it was a bright sunny day but darkness works better at building suspense. I could hear the jungle drums in the distance (far in the distance) as I went on my hunt for the dangerous anole.
Anoles are long slender, brown lizards; males reach 20 cm (in) long, females are smaller. Males have yellowish spots on their backs and an orange to pale yellow, white-edged dewlap or throat flap. They were introduced to Florida from Cuba and the Bahamas and are now found throughout the state. They are reportedly not poisonous or aggressive toward humans. But surely these mean looking creatures could not be trusted. I thought maybe I should have Phyllis out here sitting in our jeep holding our rifle and then realized that we don't actually have a rifle or jeep.
I decided to brave it and continue on in search of the elusive brown anole. (This sounds better then saying I stood in front of my garden and gazed around the plants looking for this lizard.) Then their it was hiding out on the stub of a long dead palm tree.
As you can see from the brownish spots on its back, it is a male and from head to the tip of his tail about 8 inches. This was actually my first picture of him. The image at the top came later when I started making images and not just getting my settings. If you look at the shadows on the anole's far side, you can see that the sun was low in the sky and strong. I was hoping that he would move to a better location but when working in the jungle (okay your backyard), the creatures/ critters really do not take direction well.
He was not moving and I waited. He then jumped onto the branch of a neighboring plant and I took the images that you saw earlier in this post. At first, he was in deep shadow but I waited and then he moved and his upper body was in the sunlight. I took this image just before he once again ran/jumped away into a large bush. I should mention that in all the anole images I was no closer then eight feet.
I lost sight of him for awhile as he traveled deep into the bush. As I was waiting, my attention once again went to the hibiscus flower. I was near the red one. I really love these flowers! I started thinking about where I could stand to make the image I saw in my mind. You see, there were shadows falling on it but when the sun came out from behind the clouds, it created a great mixture of shadows and highlighted areas while keeping the background darker. I took my first image at F6 but realized I wanted to darken the shadows and especially the background so I changed to F9. This gave me a larger depth of field and also affectively darkened the areas I wanted darken.
Then I saw it the anole was back !!! He had come out closer to the light. Maybe he was stalking me??? Looking for food?? Well, maybe he was just looking for the warmth of the sun. Whatever reason, I was getting another chance to bag my game. I waited till he peeked out from behind a leaf into the sunlight. As I was looking through my lens, I saw the action I had been hoping to capture: the movement of the throat flap.Sight is very important for most lizards, both for locating prey and for communication, and, as such, many lizards have highly acute color vision. Most lizards rely heavily on body language, using specific postures, gestures, and movements to define territory, resolve disputes, and entice mates. Some species of lizard also utilize bright colors, such as the iridescent patches on the belly of Sceloporus. These colors would be highly visible to predators, so are often hidden on the underside or between scales and only revealed when necessary.The particular innovation in this respect is the dewlap, a brightly colored patch of skin on the throat, usually hidden between scales. When a display is needed, the lizards erect the hyoid bone of their throat, resulting in a large vertical flap of brightly colored skin beneath the head which can be then used for communication. Anoles are particularly famous for this display, with each species having specific colors, including patterns only visible under ultraviolet (UV) light, as lizards can often see UV.
I picked up my equipment to leave when I walked by the double yellow hibiscus plant and naturally I had to take at least one image.