16 September 2012

Highlights of Field Season 4: White Sands the Nursery

Dear followers (including Dr. Losos' Harvard uni freshman class),

I have a legitimate excuse for not posting during the last field season. I finally broke down and purchased a new camera body. Unfortunately, because I shoot in RAW, and Nikon seems to change this format every few cameras, my old-2008-macbook's version of iPhoto could not seem to process my recent photos. After much chagrin, I found freeware online that allowed me to batch and convert a group of photos from RAW to jpeg all at once! Woohoo!

Anyways, I have been back from the field for nearly a month now and I am eager to show you some of my new sparkling photographs and do a little sum-up of the highlights of this year's field season.

When we came back to the field at the end of July, the desert was a nursery of scaly and feathered young. The barn swallows are always nesting around the White Sands visitor centre- very cute. Very inquisitive, and overwhelmed by instinct, likely to open their mouths in synchrony when you pass your hand in front of their nest.
Young barn swallows outside the WSNM visitor centre.

Momma (or poppa) black-throated sparrow making a racket
outside the nest.

Isaiah also happened to look down the right bush and see a black-throated sparrow nest just 1.5 feet from the ground!
Adorable hatchling black-throated sparrows. 
Enough of the feathered creatures, you say! Where are the tiny cute little lizards we're all waiting to see!? Fortunately, I have some for you. Last year, times were tough- little rain brought fewer delicious insects, larvae, and spiders and thus fewer offspring. As such, we noticed far fewer yearlings/juveniles this spring. This year, however, butterflies fluttered everywhere, it was greener (for a desert), and we saw babies of each of the three White Sands species!

Hatchling A. inornata. This little guy is 'dark' and when we nabbed him outside the visitor centre, the people there scolded us for handling the lizards- until we said we were Herpetologists! 

The cutest little H. maculata we decided to name "Drew." (mainly because I misheard when Jackie said, "It's true!")
Baby lizards getting into some mischief with Jackie and Mikki... and Drew clearly knows which spot to best show crypsis on my foot!

Tiny little S. undulatus in the heart of White Sands.
I'm going to sign off for now and continue the sum-up of this last field season with a new blog post. Stay tuned- for later this evening!

Until then!
-S. Des Roches

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