As a wildlife-watcher and outdoor photographer, I have put in many pleasant hours and days in "waitful watching" (as one of my essays has it, long on the wait, but ever watchful) in many different wildlife environments. I have been very entertained by the myriad species of wildlife in the nearly infinite repertoire of their adaptations to environments from arctic and Antarctic poles to the Equatorial Galapagos. They have not been acting for my benefit, but carrying out their daily struggles for food, water, turf, safety and progeny without romanticizing
the past nor sentimentalizing the future. They simply ARE, in the present tense, running a continuous-loop self-erasing tape that we oversimplify as "instincts", in many of which we share. Many of these animal behaviors we can observe from a judgmental perspective which we may label as predatory, scavenging or rapacious, and even some we can view with alarm and call them threatened, most often by our own actions.
A leaping trout, a sliding otter, and almost any bird flying can make us happy that we, too, are alive to share the planet with them, since the fauna individually and as a group in very complex relationships to each other, the flora and the earth are just BEING, and often with enviable splendor.

Let me tell a few of these stories, with others found in Wilderness, Hunting Experiences, Diving, Fishing, as I have moved through various ecosystems, usually with one of my cameras nearby and tape recorder and notepad in hand.

ARCTIC: I have poked around in TUNDRA, both in the places where it would be expected, such as the arctic, and in a startling shock of recognition where it was not expected, such as in the high altitude regions in the Rockies, or even close to the equator, such as the Andes, or the tepuys of Amazonas, where I encountered "equatorial tundra." See the descriptions of the tundra of the arctic and the equator in Wilderness.

But this is a story of one unusual animal species that is a migratory resident of the arctic tundra, and exists in very little subspecies differences around the circumpolar arctic, through Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Lapland and islands such as Baffin Island. This is Rangifer tarandus, the arctic caribou; (see also Hunting Experiences.)

Caribou are compulsively social animals, that seem always on the move together. They are well-insulated against the severe cold weather (and cold water) that abound in their territory high up along the Canadian shield dotted with residual pockets of the glacial melt from the retreat to the poles of the great continental glaciers. They are semi-aquatic animals and strong swimmers, seeming always to pick the deepest part of the many lakes they have to cross rather than wading along the rocky shoals. In spring, they are often desperate to take shelter in these frigid lake waters submerged to their noses, as they are pestered by the hordes of mosquitoes that hatch all at the same time (the simultaneous hatching time of the arctic-nesting waterfowl whose chicks gorge on the flying mass of mosquitoes that the caribou are trying to escape.) A big bull caribou can lose a liter of blood twice a week in the prime time of the mosquito hatch. I think I can empathize with their antics of escape under the buzz-bombing of attack squadrons of what seem to be bird-size mosquitoes. When they are swimming across a lake, it seems that the "Dunston Forest is on the move to Runnymede" since the herd is seen only as a thicket of antlers that both sexes wear, the full grown bulls most magnificently, most of the year until shed in later winter.

These animals travel upwind, carefully following the footstep of the animal ahead of them in the long file, even if that animal is along way out of sight. They have minimal use for their vision most of the time in the long flat "barren ground" of their range, and have only two long-term predators--wolves and man--which can be scented long before seen. I have spread my compound bow over my head and crouched along looking like a very poor imitation of a quadruped, but approached quite close to a caribou herd so long as I was moving upwind, and they gave me only a second glance, figuring I was a poor cousin, who looked lame and would be wolf-bait to distract carnivore attentions from them.

The caribou habit of walking in file seems to be an ideal ecologic adaptation to the fragile tundra, which is dwarfed and stunted by such a very short growing season, with very little recovery capacity in the few short months of long sunlight between the long months of burial under a heavy snowcover. It is. But there is an immediate benefit to the caribou of its plodding along in footsteps of the herd. The hoof is seen (above) with hair and glands in the cleft of the splayed cloven hoof that makes for excellent swimming paddles. But, moreover, the intertarsal glands have a scent associated with them that can be followed as they march on their long migrations.

I had seen a behavioral oddity that could not be understood without looking into these unusual hoofs. I had been stalking caribou, and getting quite close with a bow over my head, in open tundra, as long as I was upwind, so close that on several occasions, I could come within striking distance "counting coups on 'bou." But when I startled an animal, it would briefly squat down and raise its smallish tail, then start off in a loping run, that was not so much a sprint for cover (as you might imagine for a whitetail deer, that would be "flagging" with its tall white tail undersurface) as an energy-efficient long distance endurance run. This makes sense: the whitetail is a sprinter, making only a few large bounds before it is lost in cover, meanwhile giving a visual alarm signal to its companions of danger. The caribou has no "cover" into which to sprint, and is a "marathon runner", signaling for those close enough to see its pitifully inadequate twitching tail. Yet, I could not understand why it first squatted before bolting into its lope away, since it did not need to o the preliminary muscle stretch that the whitetail's, or even more obviously, the impala's high energy-requiring soaring graceful bounds, even if only for a few strides would have them in cover.

But what amazed me is that animals that would still be walking up five minutes later who could not have seen the originally startled caribou would act suspicious as they moved upwind, and then bolt when they got to the spot where the first caribou had begun its getaway run. In dissecting out the caribou we had collected, I found that there are musky glands on either side of the tail, and that the waving of the tail is not so much a visual flagging as leaving a scent of alarm on the air at the point of the bolting. The brief squat was not so much for the purposes of "cocking the spring" as the splaying of the hoof, which marked the spot as the point of alarm from the secretion left on the tundra from the intertarsal gland, that is seen above in one animal in which the gland is very obvious by a fortuitous infection in it. "This way lies danger!" the spot on the tundra had marked, and the following caribou had spooked on the lingering scent from this unique spoor.

The North Woods: ALASKA:

The "Great Land" is a wildlife wonderland, ranking right alongside African savannas, and tropical rainforest and the Galapagos--each to be looked into in their turn in this trip from the poles to the earth's beltline. I will pick out one big game species here, the Moose, Alces alces.

The largest of the deer family, the North American moose is really the European Elk, and is related to the huge extinct Irish elk with its great palmate antlers still seen in medieval European castles, which were found as fossils even in the middle ages. In Sweden, our moose is called "Elch," and the highest population of the moose on earth is on Isle Royale, a Michigan island in the middle of Lake Superior, and a World Heritage Zone, as an island without a wheel and with a very intimately connected wolf pack and moose herd that has been closely studied but not intervened by man. I have enjoyed two backpacking trips with family across Isle Royale, and the sighting of moose, and the hearing of howling wolves is a thrilling and inevitable part of this wilderness wildlife adventure.

But this moose story takes place in Alaska, in the Chugach Mountains of the Alaska Range. I had hiked in mid-October into the Chugach Bowls to see if the moose were beyond the rut, and saw a big bull moose at a distance, bedded down in the early snow along some willows. I stalked upwind, and made an approach, so close that I hardly needed the telephoto on the camera. The bull got to its feet, but seemed less alarmed about my presence than another intruder so I turned slowly to see what had followed me under the same cover. A second bull was coming up passing me without a glance, to make short charges at the big bull Kenai moose who was now wheeling around to face the challenger. The randy bull came on fast and sniffed, snorted, looking elsewhere as if un-concerned about the big bull with the herd of cows behind him back in the willows that I could here but not see. The big bull in charge of the harem inflated his dewlap and with all hair standing on end, made a threat charge toward the intruder, almost into my lens. The bluff did not get the intruder to leave, and he only turned to get better footing, and face down the next charge. When it came, I was ready, and both combatants pulled no punches this time!

It sounded like clattering sheets of plywood locking and scraping with half ton bodies shoving and grunting, and the two sets of "four-wheel drive" tearing up the snow and mountain cover as the shoving match continued. The original bull was prevailing on shear mass and high ground defense position, but the challenger disengaged antlers and with a sideways thrust, gored the original bull who went down on his side as the challenger twisted him downslope. The winner in this new round pursued his advantage, and pushed the dominant bull further away from the harem until they were both steaming and blood-flecked. Abruptly, the first bull regained his feet, and tussled briefly, before giving up and retiring from the field. The challenger had toppled the incumbent--"Sic transit gloria Mundi!"--and all within a few snowy yards of one wildlife observer who had remained stationary throughout the drama except for the rapid fire use of the 35 mm with which he was armed!

Mountain Goats and Bighorn Rams in Glacier Park:

In a hike up to Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park, I had gone with my sons to look for Rocky Mountain Goats in the first of two passes through the park, since we would be going through the northwest and the intracoastal Alaska Marine Highway on the Matanuska Ferry. We were going up the White Pass from Skagway Alaska and on into the Alaska interior and returning by way of the Alcan Highway to come across to Glacier National Park for a second visit and a hike on into Granite Park Chalet to look for bighorn Sheep in the late summer rutting season. This will be two stories about the finding of each and the unusual behavior of each of our quarries when encountered.

We hiked up into the mountains and arrived at our destination of Sperry Glacier, and looked around from this exhilarating mountain perch at sights such as Lake Ellen Wilson (named for Woodrow Wilson's wife.) We had hiking boots and backpacks, each of which were well salted up from our sweaty climb. We had been cautioned to be careful where we left our boots and backpacks, since the slat content would be a very attractive target for the salt-loving mountain goats, who crave salt almost as much as humans crave sugar, and our clothes would not last long if hung outside our camp, and might even be in some danger if they were carried in with us. "Right!" we thought, "First we will have to see the goats before we have to worry about them stripping us, and they have seemed rather shy and scarce so far!" We ate our snacks and the salted peanuts and other trail foods we had brought as we circled the lake in the mountain glacial basin. We found the goats, all right. They were not as shy as we thought they would be and we got relatively close because of their curiosity.

We had more of our snacks and melted Sperry Glacier for our water supply, and drank enough of it that when we had gone to bed we did not sleep through the night, but got up to go out into the moonlit night to relieve ourselves in what is sometimes referred to as "a call of nature." We had our own lesson in natural history, when Michael discovered what fluids seem to have the highest salt concentration by the very precise assay of mountain goats, and he was nearly trampled by an eager group coming in for the salt lick even before the sodium excretion had been completed!

We later returned from Alaska, where we had hiked far into Denali, and had climbed a mountain along Tolkat Creek to come up into a high mountain basin where there were a group of Dall sheep. The sheep watched us out of curiosity, unalarmed as long as they could see us in our slow climb across the shale scree slopes, perhaps pitying these poor creatures that were such inept climbers in the mountains they considered home. We got close enough to ease on into the herd, where we sat and had our backpacker's lunch, careful not to test the hypothesis that Dall Rams craved salt as much as mountain goats seemed to. As Donald had said: "Michael will not be making that mistake again."

We came back to Glacier National Park and transited through the "Going to the Sun" highway, where the kids could sport their "GO Climb a Glacier" tee shirts in looking back at the deeply gouged valley and the glacial arrets along what is called the "Garden Wall" We hiked along this glaciated wall which is the Continental Divide, to cross permanent snowfields in August and the kids could have a snowball fight, and continue the game they had started on Sperry Glacier and played throughout Alaska they called "Blue Butting"--glissading down glaciers. While they were enjoying their own homemade sport, I hiked up the ridge to the top of the Continental Divide, attracted by something I had seen through glassing the slope. I was closing in on what I had hoped to see when a sound startled me, coming from the slope just behind me. It sounded like a rifle shot, and was still echoing, when I turned and saw two bighorn rams who were trembling and staggering in recoil. I knew immediately what I had stumbled into, and climbed up above them, where I was positioned when each had recovered enough to go at each other again.

I could see the kids glissading down the snow fields below but could not call to them or explain what I was watching, and was sure that I could not get down to them to bring them back up to witness this spectacle. I had got Michael a small camera with which he had taken pictures of many of his experiences, but it would hardly be suitable for wildlife photography with its simple wide-angle lens. But I knew that both Donald and Michael would want to see this sight which we had hoped to witness. I came down within sight of the rams, who were still focused on each other, although they became edgily aware of my presence, and moved downslope. If I moved slowly enough and did not push them, it seemed that I was subtly herding them over to the are where the boys might see them.

It took an hour, but I was gradually moving the sheep down within range of the kids who should see them almost any moment, even though they were focused on their own games. Then it happened to them, too. In a long pause in our progress downslope, just as the rams were approaching the snowfield on which the kids were standing, the two rams wheeled and collided. The sound of the shot occurring right behind Michael's back caused him to whirl around, and there before his wide eyes were the bighorn Sheep he had hoped to see! He recovered his composure and squatted down to pull out his camera; with a concentrated effort, he squinted through the camera and popped a picture of the bighorn Ram filling his view finder, with no imagination or telephoto lens needed. He then saw me, although he was unaware of the "roundup" of the sheep, which he was quite sure he had discovered primarily; he lifted his arms in triumph--"I got the picture!"

This is a favorite behavioral story, but I am not sure whether the behavior is of us watching the sheep, or they, in equivalent bemusement, watching us!

The Foxy Vulpine, near home: Garret County Maryland

I had been spring turkey hunting in Maryland, which is a special season with rules that allow tom turkey hunting only from dawn until noon. I had had a very good morning, although I had not fired a shot, (see the stages in evolution of a hunter Hunting Experiences) and had returned to the cabin at the trout-filled pond on the "Promised Land" in the beautiful mountain country of Western Maryland. While preparing lunch, I looked out into a wide field beyond the pond and saw not one, but two adult red foxes, with one of them sunning herself and nursing four kits, as the male was prowling out into the middle of the field. The big male seemed to be a prime specimen, and I had always said I wanted a fox pelt, but I was also curious to see how close I could get to him and to see what he was doing. With my camera in one pocket, I picked up a shotgun, loaded it (to the grateful comments of my companion who had been telling me about the marauding the foxes do on turkey poults), and stepped out toward the pond.

I had to crouch down after I got around the pond, and then used a log as cover to crawl forward getting within shooting range of the fox. I watched intently, as the fox would scan the horizon looking over the place where I was hidden, then back at the mound at the edge of the woods where his brood was sunning. He looked like the average harassed bread-winner with a job to do that he had to get to work doing. He sat like a dog on his haunches, and perked up his ears. he would then pounce up high, and spring down on a matted clump of grass and bat his forepaws at the sound he had heard. A furry ball would be flipped up into the air, and he would leap up and catch it, like a dog at a Frisbee toss. He then would toss his head back and the furry small ragdoll would be arched up in a gentle pop fly and he would catch it as it fell with an audible "Crunch!" He would then make quick wolfing swallows, and go through the process again: listening, pouncing, batting, capturing, crunching, and swallowing. I watched for over an hour, as he caught and killed five voles or field mice, and then he went to the mound where his brood lay, and regurgitated in front of his mate. At this point the kits were jumping around like any unruly youngsters, and she batted them back from the murine lunch delivered to her. One of them got up and went around her far side, and actually got to the place where half her dinner still lay, and she backhanded him into a sprawl squealing with high-pitched indignation. That one will be quite a foxy fellow, I thought.

While the male was over at its mate, I used his absence to advance under a hickory tree that had been spared along an old fence row which at one time had bisected the field. Behind me in the cabin, binoculars had been trained on me and the fox, with probable puzzlement on why no shot had been heard, since I was in range for most of the hour. The fox came back right where he had been, presumably prime mousing ground, now within 20 yards of me. he seemed to think something had changed, and sensed something wrong. he spent a long time scanning around before nervously resuming what I thought looked comically like the "RCA His master's voice" position, with head cocked to the side. he caught one more mouse. It took longer this time and I think he heard the shutter on the camera during his Alley Oop mouse toss. He froze, with the mouse still hanging from the corner of his mouth and wriggling. He snorted--the best he could do, I suppose, without opening his mouth and dropping the mouse, and the other fox got up and moved off into the woods, which I could not see clearly, since I was immobile with camera to my face, and left hand holding the shotgun with the safety off already. It must have been a whiff of scent that suddenly reached him, since he snorted again, and started running straight away form me (a particularly easy shot) and then turned and headed into the woods behind his brood.

When I got back to the cabin, I heard an unexpected comment: "After all that time, so close, I am glad that you didn't shoot!" "What do you mean? I shot everything I had at him!" I said, as I held up the fully exposed roll of film already back in the cassette holder.

Eastern Zimbabwe Highlands: The Boomslang and the Frog

Rarely do I go out to see some high wildlife drama performed on a small stage, and walk right into it almost as if I am expecting to find it exactly as I am imagining it should be. I have spent most of my stationary hours in the woods in trees looking for deer, and wildlife is that which I experience while making these other plans. In the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe recently, I went looking for something I recognized almost immediately for what it was, and watched the whole drama from close range, turning up in a starring role not only as observer, but as unintentional participant.

After working our way along a swampy spot in the Eastern highlands, looking for a bird called the Tchaga which was eventually spotted, I heard incessant perseveration about snakes. "Mozambican spitting cobras, I am sure, like to live in places just like this, and we are going to walk right into one." "Well, you be sure to let me know if you see one first, since I have not got one on film this whole trip so far." "Yeah, right!" We left at his insistence to go somewhere paved where he could be more comfortable, and watch birds without having to worry about where he was putting his feet. I took the time while lunch was being prepared in a glade at streamside, to hike upstream over the rocks in the stream bed and watching for wildlife--not just birds. I saw the whole scene almost immediately.

I did not know that I was being watched, by a creature that turns out was surprisingly rare here--a frog. Fortunately, I was not being watched by a snake, who was busy watching the frog who was distracted by me. I looked into the bush at the side of the stream and saw the emerald green long body just before the strike. "Boomslang!" I said immediately, using the Afrikaans name for the very poisonous green tree snake, even though it was for sure the first one I had seen in the wild, and I was even better acquainted with the still deadlier close relative with which it may be confused, the Green Mamba. I hoped it was a boomslang, for very practical purposes at that moment, since I knew that the boomslang, although an aggressive attacker, is a back-fanged snake, and does not make delivery of its venom efficiently on a man-size target. But in a flash of movement, it was ready to demonstrate its prowess on smaller game.

I saw the frog on the rock at my feet only at the moment the snake struck, The frog was paralyzed and had two fang-puncture bloody spots in mid-body, and was dazed and awkward, blinking its eyes hazily. The boomslang wasted no time, but moved its head around to face the frog front on and then after staring at it with its beady unblinking eyes, grabbed it by the head, and began dislocating its jaws to engulf the frog head first. with two wolfing swallows, the frog had disappeared down to its hind leg flippers, and the bulk of the frog was just a wide space in the snake's expanding throat.

I was shooting this extraordinary drama with my Nikon camera, and had a pocket Nikon with flash in my vest, which I worked out now since it was dark in the underbrush at the edge of the stream. A very unexpected thing occurred when I triggered the flash. The snake was startled, seemingly not having known of my presence before, and now certain I was a threat. He stopped the ingestion of the frog, which also made one final convulsive wiggle, as it was already three quarters down its digestive sepulcher, and kicked free, falling on my foot! The snake seemed enraged, having just lost the largest meal of its life, and came after it again, but saw that it seemed to be a part of me. The boomslang flared its white volar pouch, and waved its head back and forth seeming to be making up its mind whether to risk taking me on to snatch the frog off my boot. It crawled up the bush further from the frog but still within a meter of me, and slid forward toward me under the leaf cover. I backed up far enough to get out of strike range, back-fangs or otherwise, and the frog fell off my right boot toe. It sat in the stream right under the snake in the bush, in the same relative positions that they had been in before my arrival. The frog was bloody and groggy, the snake was hissing mad, and still did not approach the frog as it watched me with cold hateful eyes that never blinked.

I backed up to make notes and to figure strategy. I backed up to the camp in the glade and got the two guides who had almost completed the luncheon set-up. "A What? You must be joking! Are you sure it was a boomslang? And I have never seen a frog up here in the highlands, and we have looked for them in our amphibian search!" "Come with me!" I said, as I reported the whole wildlife drama for which I had a front row seat, and then was called on stage for a final re-write of the final scene. "Sure enough! How did you know that was a boomslang? I have never seen one around here and I have never even heard of a frog!" The photos have been passed along to those who keep records of such events in the Zimbabwean Eastern highlands. It is unsafe to read human emotions into animal behavior, but if I were to do so, I do not know how the frog would feel, except that it was very dark in there, and he would have a chance to see another sunset or two before the very same fate greeted him for an unimpeded predator. But, there seems no room for doubt about how the boomslang felt about his interaction with me. So, if you should go out in the woods today in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, beware green back-fanged tree snakes. They are every bit as dangerous as my bird-watching friend had feared, and now they are mad besides!


The Galapagos will represent the Equatorial component of the wildlife watching, since they are volcanic cinder cones that have popped right through the Pacific on the Equator. But a better laboratory of natural history in this unique setting I, you and Charles Darwin could not ask! It is wonderful!

I will limit my self to a couple of wildlife stories of the large number in stock from observations made in such places. Let's start with the surfing sea lion. My two sons and I had spent another unique New Year's Eve in greeting a new decade, as we had the previous two decades, celebrating on some special mountain top in Massachusetts (70), the Shenandoah (80), and now Quito, Ecuador (90). We began New Year's Day by making a "wet landing" in a "panga", the launch that would run us to the shore of the islands, from our cruise ship "Santa Cruz". The first island on which we made landfall was North Seymour island, and we walked gingerly along amid frigate bird rookeries, and looked around the rocky beach where Sally Lightfoot Crabs were scurrying in and out of the splash pools while sea lions were resting in the sand with newly born pups nursing from their mothers. None of the animals expressed any sign of fear of our presence, and a few young ones shuffled over mostly out of curiosity. One big male sea lion rolled over lazily and scratched himself with a flipper that seemed so clumsy as it scattered sand over us. A female sea lion raised her nose to his and began barking. The male kept looking away, as if to imply "Don't bother me, I will get to fishing when I am good and ready!" She seemed to respond: "I say you are ready! and nudged him repeatedly until he rolled off the rock into the surf.

He surfaced very close to the rocks, and looked back. If I were trying hard not to write an anthropomorphic script for this behavior, it would still be difficult to avoid the "Oh, all right; I'll do it!" Almost immediately, there was a violent slashing action near the surface as he came up with a very large pelagic fish which looked to me like a scombroid, such as a mackeral. He was tearing the fish to pieces and the air over his bobbing head filled with screaming frigate birds who were divebombing the pelicans who got there first, forcing them to regurgitate their just swallowed pieces of the prize. With a big male frigate with its red inflated throat sack right over his head like a giant pesky mosquito singing in his ears, the sea lion lunged up on the rocks with a larger than half size chunk of the still wriggling fish, and dropped it down at the sand in front of the female. She poked her nose into his neck, and he then regurgitated smaller pieces he had swallowed. She began re-eating these as he rolled back into the surf and swam a long way out. We had thought he was gone when Donald spotted him first: "Here he comes--hanging ten!" The big lion caught the curl, and surfed the big roller all the way in to the sand. He then perched up on the rocks in front of the rollers in what would be called the "Facing the Sun" posture in yoga, and blissfully ignored the barking calls from the harem, as if to express, "I have done my work, and had my fun, now just give me my space and let me sit and enjoy the beach for a while!"

We walked around the harem, and did not approach or touch any of the young or the female lions, but abruptly upon seeing the motion of Michael passing by, a freshly born pup flounced over to Michael and tried to nuzzle him. As tempting as it might be to pet a newborn sea lion, most of the maternal imprinting that allows a pup to be recognized by its mother is by way of scent, and one touch of a human hand with suntan oil might probably result in non-recognition and rejection from nursing, so we stepped out of the way to be sure we were not between mother and pup until their noisy reunion was made as you can see occurred after the very close range photographs.

We were snorkeling in the bay of Bartolome Island on another day when we were buzzed by what looked like underwater torpedoes that would veer off just before collision. These were the endemic Galapagos penguins (recall, we are on the equator with a species around us that should feel at home at the poles.) But the currents that isolate the Galapagos almost as effectively as their mid-ocean island origin even produce endemic marine life. We were just admiring these plucky birds when a large shadow came over me as I had submerged. I looked up to see a large Pacific Green Turtle on its way to the beach. We followed, and we saw dozens of the big turtles, so gracefully flying through water and then clumsily dragging themselves along the sand. The full cycle of life occurred in their regeneration, as the one group buried eggs in the sand, and the others paired in the surf for the very slow process of mating.

Flightless cormorants (the world's only such creatures)and marine iguanas were admired on Fernandino Island, along with the endemic Galapagos Hawk. The marine iguanas look almost comical I their bobbing dance to orient themselves to the sun depending on whether they are just coming out of the water and need to be horizontal to its rays, or whether they have heated up and have to array themselves linearly to thermoregulate. When the volcanic rocks heat up on the cinder cones, they have to raise alternate feet to get air circulating beneath them to shed the conducted and radiated heat, before "falling overboard" and coming up peeling their scales. We saw the famous Darwin's finches whose beaks and their different functions leading to speciation was one of the beginnings of the biology of our era. Some of the finches had been symbionts with the marine iguanas, whose scaly skin flakes they would clean off like oxpeckers on a rhino. But some of them got quite aggressive in their feeding and the vampire finch emerged, with the somewhat so-to-learn marine iguanas still having to figure out the speciation of finches. The only reasons we are ahead of them is that Darwin's finches were examined by someone else back in London (and proven in a twenty five year longitudinal study going on from Yale and taking place in the steeply isolated Daphne Major we circumnavigated); besides, we may be smarter than the average marine iguana, being warm-blooded as we are, and perhaps only half as ugly.


Once started on the favorite subject of the wildlife watching I have enjoyed in the many different ecosystems I have visited world-wide, I will have to employ a voluntary cutoff, and promise that there will be many more such stories to come that I will rotate in this home page section. For now you might try Wilderness for some other habitats, or try Bird Watching, or if it is to your tastes Hunting Experiences.