Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poison-Dart Frog on a Walk Through La Selva

Oophaga pumilio
La Selva Biological Field Station, Costa Rica
July 13th, 2009

Here is another photograph from my trip last summer to Costa Rica. I captured this little frog during a solo walk through the forest. Although these frogs were ubiquitous in La Selva, I couldn't help but photograph one every chance I got. They were easy to spot in the leaf litter and on the roots of trees both because of their bright color and their resounding vocalizations.

The Oophaga pumilio (formerly of the genus Dendrobates) are an interesting species in that throughout their range they exist in several distinct color morphs. The blue-jeans variety, as photographed above, is the most common but they can be solid orange-red, as well as green, yellow, or even blue, all with or without spots. Another interesting characteristic of this species is the high degree of parental care from both parents. The male of this species, though less involved than the female, provides a degree of parental care by depositing water on the eggs and defending the nest. The females expend more energy and time into the care of her young. She will take the newly hatched tadpoles one at a time from the nest to a small water filled cavity, often a bromeliad axil. In these little pools her young are safe from predators, but have no food, so she will come back periodically and lay unfertilized eggs for her young to eat.

Frogs are amazing creatures, unfortunately across the World their populations are being threatened with extinction from habitat loss, climate change, and infectious disease (chytrid fungus). Hopefully with a conscious effort we can protect the species we have left.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

American Wigeon at Kenneth Hahn Park

Anas americana
Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area, California
February 14th, 2010

I photographed this American Wigeon during the Great Backyard Bird Count at Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area. This duck is easily distinguishable from other ducks by its cream to white colored forehead and crown and the brilliant green patch extending from behind the eye to the nape. The "bald" look of this duck has earned it the nickname baldpate.

If you've never been to Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area, I highly suggest making a trip. It is located off La Cienega in Baldwin Hills. There are over seven miles of trails, picnic areas and a duck pond. Parking near the pond and heading across the main drive will take you to the Olympic trail, which takes you straight up into some beautiful chaparral where you can observe native wildlife and get some amazing views of Los Angeles. The pond has a population of domesticated ducks, but with careful observation you can often spot native species as well.