I don’t know what kind of salamander this is. This little guy and several buddies show up each summer/fall around my Colorado cabin and live in this large hole in the ground that leads to my septic tank. The temperature can reach -50 degrees during the winter and snow is on the ground for up to six months. I don’t know how these critters survive unless it’s like the salamanders in Russia.
The body of the Siberian salamander survives extreme cold temperatures via 'antifreeze' chemicals. How amazing!
“Sudden frost is a serious problem for the Siberian salamander. It needs time to adapt to the cold and produce the ‘antifreeze’ chemicals that replace water in blood and cells and protect tissues from damage by sharp ice crystals. Some animals use glucose, glycerol and related compounds to protect them from freezing in this way. The exact mechanism in the Siberian salamander is not known.” Source: http://www.asknature.org
A spectacular day bathing in color, texture, beauty, light, and life ...
The bees were extra gentle and calm today. Their presence was therapeutic. I loved the buzzing sound and their easy going demeanor. They were slower in flight and less frantically hunting for nectar. Some days are like this. They welcomed me holding a flower steady in the wind for them. So much beauty is such small things....
Lots of little critters were out today ... (click images to see more of nature's art)
It wasn't until this year that I started exploring macro photography. It all began with one bee that I was photographing in February of 2011. I followed the bee around from branch to branch, thrilled to be seeing a bee in winter. She led me to her thriving bee hive in a nearby tree. Since that day, I began photographing bees and soon found all kinds of bugs to photograph. It's a fascinating, and quite secret little world out there all around us if we care to pay attention.
I've watched bugs interacting with each other. I've seen a mosquito on a flower with two different kinds of bees. The three of them were tolerating each other, but one bee was the alpha bee. The mosquito would put its leg on one of the bees every chance it got. It wouldn't leave her leg very long. It was more like reaching out and touching as if to test what was going to happen. The three of them circled the flower for several minutes together. The bees got into a scuffle once, but it ended peacefully. The mosquito stayed back, out of the way and just watched, while the bees rolled around like a couple of guys in a small bar fight. It's amazing to witness the life that these critters live. I've seen dragonflies eating damselflies and damselflies eating other bugs. I've watched spiders and ambush bugs catching bees, and wasps eating some sort of winged insect.
After an ambush bug catches its prey, " it sucks body fluids by means of its rostellum, or beak. Other types of bugs use this organ for sucking plant juices, but not the ambush bug. These stealthy critters sit very still on or near flowers, their superb camouflage allowing them to remain undetected while an unwitting butterfly or other unfortunate happens by to gather nectar. They then seize their prey using front legs adapted for the task - these legs resemble the front legs of the praying mantis. It is a ferocious bug indeed that takes prey 10 times its own size." Source: http://www.cirrusimage.com/bugs_ambush.htm
I spent some time with this jumping spider today. I watched him catch a green bug (partially pictured below) and then I just experimented with his temperament to get him to interact with me. At first he was jumping from rock to rock and was interested in getting away from me until he found the green snack and the only 'away' he was doing was munching. Sometimes he would look directly at me. It's so interesting to have eye contact with such a tiny creature. He was less than a half inch. After that, I got him to crawl on a stick and a small leafy branch, but he didn't readily climb on. I had to 'encourage' him. Some bugs will grab hold of whatever I give them. This little guy was more independent.
Sometimes he would drop from the branch on his silk thread and I would wind the thread up to keep him from dropping to the ground, but he was quick. He managed to drop down from his thread quicker than I could reel it back up sometimes. Once he crawled back up his thread! He was getting used to me, and was less fearful as time went on. In person, he's very tiny and not intimidating. I can't make out much of the detail you get to see in these images. (That's part of what makes macro photography so fascinating.) When he jumped, he jumped quicker than I could actually see. It was like he was being teleported! He was on a rock one second and in less than a blink of an eye he was somewhere else. Interestingly, after he got more familiar with me, he stopped jumping and allowed me to fool with him, for lack of a better way of describing it.
The autumn colors are at their peak in the high country. The drive from the mountains to the city today couldn't have been more beautiful.