Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fork-tailed Swift in New Zealand

On the afternoon of November 26, 2009, Nick Quickert spotted a swift flying around the Penguin Place Yellow-eyed Penguin colony at Taiaroa Head near Dunedin, New Zealand. Once the group got my attention, I was able to see that it was a Fork-tailed Swift (a rarity for New Zealand). I was able to take some documentation quality images as it zoomed around (see attached composite image). Conditions were partly cloudy with extremely high winds. Photos © Chris Benesh.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Tough Day to be a Coot

While birding yesterday at Laguna Atascosa in south Texas, my group and I came across a group of folks looking intently at something along the shores of a lagoon. When we went over to check it out, we realized that they were looking at an American Alligator in the process of eating an American Coot. At this point, the coot was already dead, yet the alligator spent a good deal of time tenderizing it before it eventually swam off with it still dangling in its mouth.

Friday, January 9, 2009

From the Fire Swamp come Rodents of Unusual Size

Looking remarkably like the Rodents of Unusual Size familiar to some from the Fire Swamp in The Princess Bride film comes the first ever video of an ancient lineage of mammals known as a Solenodons.  The video features  Solenodon paradoxus, a relict population that persists on the island of Hispanola in the caribbean.  One of the many curious aspects of Solendons are that they possess a toxic saliva with a salivary duct placed at the base of a lower incisor.  Not rodents at all, Solenodons are in their own family and traditionally placed in the order Insectivora, though recent treatments place them in the order Soricomorpha, which includes many shrews.