So my photographer brother-in-law Chris was showing me some pictures he took recently, and when this one came up I have to admit I actually recoiled a bit:
Yowza. Scary looking little bugger, ain’t it? Actually, there are two of these insects in the picture, though at first it’s hard to tell. I think Chris may have interrupted them in the process of making more little critters.
Anyway, Chris and I had no clue what they were, so I sent a note to my pal Bug Girl, who knew right away what he had found: an Ambush bug. Judging from other pictures, she got it in one. They’re very formidable looking, and actually rather lovely with their color contrasting those of the Russian sage on which they’re perched.
If you agree, and like insects in general, then check out Bug Girl’s blog. There’re enough creepy crawlies there to last you through the whole weekend.
A few years back, I was out with Mrs. BA and we happened to see some gargoyle statuettes. I was surprised to find out she liked them (surprising people are the best people to know). Over the years I’ve picked up a couple, and one in particular we hung up outside the front door.
We like it there, and we’re not the only ones. This young lady decided it would make a nice home:
She showed up last week, and within a few hours had built that nest. And she and her hubby — common house finches — didn’t waste any time, either, laying eggs within a day or so.
This picture, taken by my brother in law Chris, is already out of date; just yesterday we saw that two of the eggs had hatched. I’m not sure of the third egg’s status right now; at first she flew away every time we walked by (the gargoyle and nest are right next to our front door), but now she seems a lot more confident, and sticks around. We can’t see inside the nest now, but I expect we’ll be hearing from the chicks very soon.
I’m not inclined to disturb them. And I have some experience here.
[Update: I forgot to note that the quote "Surprising people are the best people to know" is from science fiction author Larry Niven. One of the truest things he's ever said.]
Last week, I showed you a turtle doing his thing while I was out biking — providing "his thing" means falling face-first off a log.
Not too long after that, a ways farther down the trail, I had an encounter with a much cuter critter.
That’s a prairie dog, and they’re very common around Boulder. They are about as adorable as you can imagine, even in the way they behave. They stand on their hind legs, chitter loudly, and run around like they’re starring in a Pixar cartoon.
On the other hand, they also are known to carry the plague. And by the plague, I mean the plague, Bubonic Plague. That’s one reason I try not to get too close to them. I watched "Holy Grail"; I know the score.
Colonies of them can have dozens of members, and watching them prance around and run from hole to hole is fun. Their noises are interesting; some folks think it may be a very rudimentary language. I remain agnostic on this, though of course skeptical, but they are a very gregarious and chatty animal.
And, of course, they do have a sense of drama.
I love biking, especially in Boulder. There are trails everywhere, and lots of fun wildlife. Whenever I’m out I see hawks, prairie dogs, red winged blackbirds, rabbits, and more. Sometimes even owls.
What I did not expect to see the other day, however, was a big ol’ turtle lumbering across the bike path! [Click the picture to testudinate.] For scale, I’d guess his (hers? Who can tell?) shell was about 30 cm across. He was trying to get to a creek off the path, I think, when I got this shot.
I switched to video on my camera, and happened to catch a moment that I’m sure would embarrass the turtle if it had access to YouTube:
Ha! Boom. Clearly, he shook it off and kept going. After I took this clip, he got a better look at how steep the creek bank was, changed his mind, and turned around. That process took several minutes; turtles are in no hurry.
As far as video quality goes, my apologies for a) the panting; I had just gotten off my bike to take the video so I was still catching my breath, and 2) the wrong aspect ratio for the video; I was holding my phone sideways to take pictures and didn’t turn it upright for the video. Sigh. I guess turtles have the right idea. Hurrying just gets you in trouble.