All posts by Fiona

Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, & Argentina/Chile

Costa Rica – Feb 11-25, 2012
A new tour, similar to 2011 but with an extra night and a trip to the remote Osa Peninsula, home of the wilderness species of the region. Ever popular, this trip takes you to my favorite places in the country, based on over 25 tours I have led there!

We had a great trip with about 240 species of birds and 43 species of mammals seen!

Sri Lanka.  Nov 28 to Dec 10, 2012
All-new tour! A safari in search of mammals, birds and more – see Leopards at Yala, Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys, Gray Slender Loris at Sigiriya, and Blue and Sperm Whales at Mirissa. See Tours for details.

This tour is sold out, contact me if you wish to be put on a waiting list.

Tour Report: Argentina and Chile. November 1- 16, 2010:

This was a truly fantastic trip! We has close encounters with so many animals, saw habitats from endlessly flat pampas to dramatic mountains, with windswept Patagonian coasts along the way.

For a full trip report with photos go to argentina-and-southern-chile-tour-report-illustrated pdf

Here are a few photos. The young whale came up right by our boat, then swam underneath us!

Thailand!

I went to Thailand in September, mostly because I wanted to see and draw from life the Bumblebee Bat (world’s smallest) and the Painted Bat (arguably world’s prettiest). Both of these bats I had already painted for the Golden Guide to Bats of the World, and I really don’t like to draw an animal I’ve never seen… so I set off with 6 Brits for a bat adventure, followed by a few days in two national parks with two of the same British group.

Thailand was great. An excellent place to visit for wildlife, bats, Buddhas and more. the scenery is awesome, the food good (though I have to say not quite as good as I expected!) and the bats are really impressive.

Last but not least, my Paint Bat painting:

Last but not least, my Painted Bat painting

Having a Devil of a time in Tasmania

I just got back from a tour of Tasmania (January 25 to February 7). I led the trip with Mark Hanger from Naturequest New Zealand, and we took 10 enthusiastic participants. What a great country! We saw far more mammals than I expected, even though I had set out with high hopes. We even saw wild Tasmanian Devils!

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This one is a captive, I must admit. The views we had of the 4 wild individuals the group as a whole saw were short and sweet.

Bennett's Wallaby
Bennett’s Wallaby

We saw a lot of wallabies and their smaller relatives, pademelons, plus the wonderfully named Long-nosed Potoroo. Eastern Quolls were sighted at three different reserves, and we watched one out hunting at Cradle Mountain. Duck-billed Platypus, a ton of wombats, all the endemic birds, and an assortment of herps rounded out the trip.

One of my trip favorites was the Echidna (shown below) – and we saw a total of 12 individuals! You can get right up to them when they are feeding, shoving their narrow snout into the ground and spinning it like a jackhammer in search of ants. p1270063

 

I’m planning to return to Tasmania with mammals uppermost on the agenda. Let me know if you are interested in coming along!

Flowers, salamanders and more

coltsfoot Coltsfoot – a non-native – is one of the most colorful early spring flowers

The weather has been really warm for two days and only tiny shreds of snow remain, hidden under deep conifers. Yesterday I took a quick walk in the woods and many wildlflowers were already in bloom. As I reached our first pond I heard a great splashing as three or four deer raced out of the water. I expect they were enjoying the new succulent grass in the marshy streambed that feeds into the pond. Today I returned to take pictures of the flowers and in place of the deer, a pair of wood ducks left from the same spot, making their high whistling call as they departed. jeff-laying-eggsds

About 2 weeks ago, Don Scallen and I watched a number of Jefferson’s salamanders laying eggs. This is one of Don’s pictures – much better than mine – nicely showing the egg mass below the female. The egss had not had time to swell. Note the leach on top of the lady’s head!

 

Today I photographed some egg masses that have developed quite a bit. The white ones are infertile eggs, the darker spots are healthy, developing embryos.

jeff-eggsSome of my favorite woodland flowers are already in bloom. Hepatica comes in a variety of colors. I have one patch that are almost blue, and sometimes striped, others are purple, some are pink and many are white. You can see a few of last year’s three-lobed leaves around the flowers, the new leaves will not appear for at least another week.

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Blue cohosh is such an incredible plant when it first appears, with its deep blue-purple leaves and yellow centred flowers. Bloodroot appears with a dramatic white flower and a single leaf clasping its stem. By tomorrow the petals will have fallen off this one.bloodroota

leatherwood

 

I love the tiny yellow blossoms of the leatherwood tree – a little bonsai in the forest with amazingly flexible branches.

Mammals of Central America 2nd Edition!

My first “big book” that I researched, wrote and illustrated was A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico, published in 1997 by Oxford University Press. Now, 12 years later, a second edition is about to be released. It has numerous updates, and I am hoping above all that it has more accurately reproduced color illustrations. I just received a copy of the cover from OUP, and here it is, below.

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The book should be available in May or June 2009, the price has dropped to $45.00 US, so pick up a copy soon!