Saturday, September 23, 2006

Good Planets Are Hard to Find - Critter Edition

We sent a note to PZMyers of the science blog Pharyngula telling him about our Good Planets Saturday posts, and asked if he would kindly let his readers know. PZ gets a lot of readers, and we thought it would be a good way to announce our little attempt at balancing the insanity in the world with photos of the earth's astonishing beauty. Well, to say that we were overwhelmed by the response would be an understatement. We received many photographs, so many that we can't really post them all in one day (or even in two or three, for that matter!) We've decided to take two days this weekend and post at least one or two shots from each contributor (some sent as many as 14 beauties). Saturday will be the critters--squirrels, raccoons, lizards, butterflies, birds, and bugs; and Sunday will feature the flowers, rivers, oceans, skies, and trees. We are grateful for the opportunity to show you what people have photographed around the world. It's a magnificent peek at the world outside of windows we don't get to see ourselves.

From Laura in New Jersey-She wrote: This monarch emerged in my garden last week.

Carl Buell sent this Flying Squirrel and Raccoon in tree-He wrote: Here's a Southern Flying Squirrel that my friend Hank Fox "shot" in the crotch of a Silver Maple in my front yard. Same tree different night, and this young Raccoon found the peanut butter and hulled sunflower seeds I put out for the Flying Squirrels. This tree alone has provided home and habitat for 31 species of birds and 9 species of mammals (I DO put out a bit of food) including a Grey Fox and, on one autumn evening last year, a Fisher trying unsuccessfully to catch a flying squirrel and settling for suet.

Marc in Tasmania sent us this Masked Lapwing chick photo-He wrote: Yesterday, during a walk around our property, we knew there must be Masked Lapwing chicks around because the adults would go into a fit whenever we were too near. At one point Edith saw one from afar so we headed over. However, the alert was sounded by the adults so the chick plopped down and... disappeared into the ground. Some 45 minutes later, I finally found it! I took a few pics and left the poor, trembling but beautiful chick alone.

Simon sent these photos of caterpillar and spider-He wrote: The image of the caterpillar was taken in Devon, England earlier this year. One of the joys of digital cameras is the macro modes for taking close up shots. It's amazing just what is there when you look.
I took the photo of the spider the other day in my house, here in Canada. It was about 2cm across, and without the magnification it would be hard to see all the amazing details. Unfortunately, he built his web in a door frame - so after the photo shoot he was reluctantly relocated.

Liz O from Connecticut sent this-She wrote: (The photo) is of some type of mystery juvenile true bug on a flower. I like it because the bug is so beautiful - the pattern on its back reminds me of a quilt or a woven blanket.

Susan F from Washington sent this photo of a heron rookery-

Kurt sent this photo of a cave cricket-He wrote: Here is a picture of a cave cricket I took while developing a monitoring method for their populations in Mammoth Cave National Park (I too consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world). These amazing animals spend most of their time in caves and occasionally venture outside to feed (as there is no primary productivity in caves and so no food). Inside caves they roost on the ceiling, digest, and defecate onto formations below. Their guano builds up into a veneer and there are numerous cave-dwelling arthropods that feed on their guano. There is a second, separate community of arthropods that are supported by the feces of a cave-dwelling beetle that feeds on the eggs cave crickets deposit in the cave substrate.

Chris sent links to photos he has taken around the world-A bird in the Imperial Garden in Tokyo.
A lizard close-up.
Bee and butterfly together, the pollen eaters.

Natasha sent us this dragonfly photo-She wrote: That's a migratory dragonfly called a wandering glider. They're well known for following troughs of low pressure and being harbingers of rain. Pics from india.

Laurel sent this photo of cattle and egret in Kentucky-

Greg sent several photos of the English countryside-This one is of a fine fanned out peacock.

Nio sent us the perfect close to the critters edition, ending where we began-A beautiful monarch butterfly, photographed on Old Hill in New Hampshire.

Isn't it amazing what we see outside our windows, on our walks, when we travel? We learned a lot putting out a call on such a popular blog. Next time, I think we'll ask for one or two of your favorite photos. I wish we could have posted all the photos that we received. Also, resizing to something under 1 mb would really help. But those are just the mechanics of presenting Good Planets Are Hard to Find. The joy outweighs the task every time. A big thanks to everyone for having the time and attention to take such a beautiful look around our good planet.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the ocean, river, sky, clouds, flowers, and trees.

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