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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:18 am 
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Good catch on the shellfish, Ainia! I'd never really made a note of those before. Your lovely shots of Direbo insects also makes me want to go spend time there and seek butterflies. You, and larry, both have utterly fantastic wildlife photos. Thank you for sharing. Not sure I'd be brave enough to go laki-picturing!


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 Post subject: Happy New Year to all
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:52 pm 
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Greetings everyone,

Call me a bit mad, but I spent the last of 2011 and the first of 2012 on a photo safari throughout the ages. I just couldn't think of a more enjoyable way to spend the holiday! (Plus, it's probably my last chance for a while to spend a prolonged period of time doing this.)

I got a ton of great photos of a variety of wildlife and am not sure where to start, there's so much to share. So this will have to become multiple posts. :D

But I suppose a good place to start is to update/correct an earlier post I made regarding Noloben. On my most recent return visit, I took a closer look at the settlement beach and saw that what I had assumed to be the unused remains of an animal is actually a ruined boat made from both animal tusks and wood. So it appears that the Bahro sail the Noloben ocean to hunt and fish (rather than doing so strictly from the shoreline). Which isn't surprising considering the size of the one creature's bones and tusks.

Here's a new photo of the wreck, showing its nature more clearly:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Sorry about the erroneous assumption I'd made earlier. But I guess that's how we (read "Ainia") learn!

But this also emphasizes how the settlement apparently is now abandoned. When I think about it, this makes sense since it was no longer safe for the Bahro there with Esher in the neighborhood. I'm sure it didn't take long after his atrocities began that they decided to move on. Yet they clearly still have ties here, since they responded to the tablet here as in other ages (when Dr. Watson went on his journey). I guess the Bahro just don't live here anymore.

Enjoy!

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 Post subject: Another trip to Laki'ahn
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:18 pm 
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I couldn't end the year without another trip to Laki'ahn. I've had a pet project for a very long while to find a Piranha Bird nest. But it appears the little buggers are very discreet, as each trip (including this one) has ended in failure.

However, I paid a return visit to the Laki pod and had the extraordinary luck to photograph them from below (larryf58's earlier success made me brave!) during one of the Laki'ahn eclipses.

There's something almost magical about seeing the stars through the water:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Even though there is no wildlife in this photo, it is so lovely I had to share it:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Enjoy!

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Last edited by Ainia on Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:59 pm 
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One of my first revisits was to Teledahn. I was determined to spend some serious time studying the animals there I had neglected up until now--the Flappers and Shroomie. So here are the results of my Flapper expedition.

larryf58's earlier observations about the Flappers got me interested in observing and documenting their actual behavior. I'm including some of the more interesting photos I took of their flapping behavior pattern.

Here is a Flapper just beginning its launch. You can see how the central hole is beginning to widen as the body is beginning to contract and gain upward speed:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Here is the same Flapper widening its hole even further and continuing to gain upward speed (it's actually very difficult to capture this stage as they are going so fast):
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
The Flapper is now fully contracted and shooting upward at top speed:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Here's what this stage of the Flapper's flight looks like from the side:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Here's the Flapper just beginning its downward descent. Note how the central hole is closing up and how its body bells upward like an umbrella:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Here's the Flapper slowly descending with its central hole almost completely closed (as closed as it will become during its descent). The Flapper's body is capturing the air and then filtering it through the contracted central hole. This is how it harvests the pollen spores for feeding and why its descent is so much slower than its ascent:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
And here's the Flapper nearly completely flattened again, just before landing on the water surface. Its flapping cycle is nearly complete:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Coming next: Shroomie!

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Last edited by Ainia on Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:14 pm 
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Great images.

Studying flappers was one of my favorites. Here is a sequence I captured a few years ago with a special camera my wife got to help with my studies.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:39 pm 
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I spent a long day studying Shroomie in Teledahn. I think I must have gotten lucky as she was more curious than usual and seemed to develop an unsteady tolerance for my presence in the water. Of course, I fed her lots and lots of pollen spores, but all the same I doubt my next visit will be quite so fortuitous.

It was actually quite tricky figuring out how to get close enough to her for some good photos (which is why it was a very long day). It takes a weird combination of speed, stealth and slow movement to succeed in getting very close--speed to get closer to her from a distance, quiet movement to avoid startling her and once near her, slow and gradual movement so she won't spook and do her deep dive.

Here's the best of the several hundred photos I took of her (or tried to take of her, as many were near misses).

Approaching Shroomie worked best for me from in/under the water (rather than from a dinghy). Here I am approaching her:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
But I was moving too fast as I neared and so she spooked and dove deep under:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Having learned my lesson, I approached more slowly and quietly, getting a nice view of her from nearly head on:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
And here she is in all her glory, posing nicely (good girl!):
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
While watching her all day, I noticed that she used her forelegs quite a bit. I still am not sure why she waves them about as she does, but she does this frequently both while she is on the surface and when she is completely submerged. One possible explanation is that she uses them as sensory organs. Yet another puzzle to investigate further some day in the future.

Here is a photo of Shroomie sticking her forelegs just above the water surface while she herself is submerged:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
And here she is doing the same with her head above the water surface:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Above the water surface, lowering her forelegs:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Here she is with her head barely breaking the water surface and her forelegs lowered underwater:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Just a few moments later, she is beginning to raise her head (though she thankfully didn't give voice to one of her booming calls):
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
I'm quite intrigued with her use of her forelegs. They don't appear to have much use as paddles for maneuvering about, but perhaps can be used to manipulate objects or, again, as extended sensory organs. This latter possibility would explain why she seemed to use them so extensively when she was breaking surface, as if she was checking the above-water environment before revealing herself.

Thoughts??

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 Post subject: Flapper photos
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:44 pm 
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Hi semplerfi,

What marvelous photos! Your flash did an outstanding job of illuminating the Flappers in such low lighting (one of the problems I struggled with all day as I studied them). And you were able to capture the underside as well--brilliant!

I'm gratified to see that there are other serious amateur scientists still at work out there. There really is so much to be learned and documented about all these amazing animals.

Thanks for sharing!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:47 pm 
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@Ainia: Hey...Sent you a message about this thread via PM. -Nev

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 Post subject: Negilahn revisited: Kiri
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:04 am 
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The next stop on my scientific research mission was Negilahn. I'd been wanting for a very long while to spend an extended time there studying the native animals from outside the pod. A particular obsession of mine was in tracking down the elusive Two-Tailed Monkey, the Panuhdoy, as although he's easy enough to hear (and very loud too!), I'd never really been able to spot him.

So to start out my research, I used some climbing gear to crawl out of the large crack toward the top of the pod. I wandered around the swampy area nearby and noticed the native fireflies, the Kiri, right away. At least they are easy to find! I got a couple of nice photos and also noticed something new about them I hadn't been able to see from the pod. When viewed closer, they have a distinctive fan shape rather than the more usual round shape that other fireflies have displayed. Very curious!

Here's a photo of a Kiri swarm in the Negilahn swamp:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Fortunately, they aren't particularly skittish, so I was able to walk into the middle of the swarm and get this photo:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Their fan shape really is quite unique, so leads me to assume that they are unrelated to any of the other fireflies observed in the other ages.

Coming soon: a more thorough workup on the different fireflies from the different ages.

Up next: the Urwin!

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:28 am 
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In my search for the Panuhdoy, I decided that the treetops were a sensible place to look. So I started by using my climbing gear to scale one of the Stilt Trees. I figured that even if the Panuhdoy wasn't in that particular tree, I would at least have a nice vantage point from which to do a visual search with my binoculars.

Climbing up the sheer sides of a Stilt Tree is quite an endeavor! As I climbed, I couldn't help but speculate that each large tree seemed to be a fused collection of individual trees. Particularly from a height, I could easily see that there were single slender Stilt Trees growing separately from the larger groups that we think of as the true Stilt Tree. It got me to wondering if the middle of the large Stilt Trees would be hollow...

Stilt Tree fused clusters from the ground:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Stilt Tree individual tree from the ground (on the left):
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Stilt Tree on the top (fortunately, it is solid and fairly flat, not hollow after all, making it a very nice watch tower):
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
On the way up the Stilt Tree, there is an occasional Piranha Flower with its deathly sweet odor:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
The blossoms are enormous and not a little scary with their claws. I wonder if they are parasitic? They are rather creepy and I couldn't help but imagine them slowly crawling up the sides of the Stilt Trees with those nasty looking claws. I gave them a wide berth in my climb:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Although the view from the top did not reveal the Panuhdoy, I did spot an Urwin off in the distance:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
I spent at least an hour in the treetops searching for the Panuhdoy with my binoculars, all to no effect. I finally decided to look into getting some better photos of the Urwin since I knew where to find him.

Considering the enormous size of the Urwin, I opted for slow and stealthy. Since I knew he was at a discreet distance from the pod behind a hillock, I approached the back side of the hillock and carefully crawled behind him.

A shot of the Urwin from behind the hillock:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
I continued moving behind him slowly and quietly and got a picture of him from directly behind:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
This shot was from farther away than it appears, as I was using my zoom:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Since he didn't seem to be particularly disturbed by my presence, I sneaked back around the hillock for a quick front shot:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
The Urwin was eyeing me carefully during that last photo but overall didn't seem to mind my presence. In looking back on this, I realize I was somewhat foolhardy in approaching a full-sized Urwin like that. I guess having a Relto book as an emergency exit makes it easy to take risks...

Next up: the Panuhdoy at last!

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:37 am 
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Absolutely amazing shots, Ainia! I've never even gotten a distant glimpse of these magnificent creatures during my visits. Makes me wonder if domestication is possible? To ride an urwin. What would that be like? :shock:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:53 am 
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As I walked back toward the pod from my Urwin photo shoot, I continued to puzzle about the Panuhdoy and my failure at finding him. I took the long leisurely route back, trying to search through the bushes and behind the trees I'd been eyeing from the top of the Stilt Tree. Still no luck.

Disappointed, I started to walk back toward the pod and realized that the only place I hadn't searched up until now was underneath the pod itself; this could explain why the Panuhdoy's hoots sounded so loud from inside the pod. Overall, this possibility made a lot of sense.

As I neared the pod, I looked for a place to crawl underneath. I was surprised to see that there is a great deal of room underneath; the ferns and grasses had grown so much over the years around the pod's perimeter that I hadn't noticed this before.

I think the Panuhdoy must have been watching me carefully all this time because as soon as I crouched down to find a way to crawl in, he burst out with a shriek! I was so startled, I nearly ruined my underwear; but I somehow managed to snap a few photos before it was all over.

The Panuhdoy leapt up in a burst, nearly in my face:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
He continued to rise in his jump:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
And then he scrambled away:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
It was all over in a matter of seconds. After a few deep breaths, I sat down and laughed myself silly for several minutes. What a day! And I allowed myself to bask in the glory of finally finding my elusive quarry.

Up next: Payiferen's Sandscrit

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:58 am 
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Love the Urwin shots. Looking forward to the Sandscrit as well, I really love watching them.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:03 am 
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Hi sideshow118 and Capella,

Thanks for the comments. It's nice to know someone else is enjoying this too!

Yes, riding an Urwin would be quite an experience! I'm not sure how easy they might be to domesticate. In my very brief experience, he wasn't aggressive, but there's no telling if he might be exceedingly stubborn!

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 Post subject: Pod ages: Payiferen
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:16 am 
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My trip to Payiferen was much shorter than my earlier trips to Teledahn and Negliahn. For one thing, there wasn't as much to study there. And for another, the sandstorms are brutal. But being a serious explorer, I tightened my belt and headed out from the shelter of the pod anyway.

The nearby hilltops offer some great views and in spite of the wind, I could still see quite well, though there were no Sandscrits within sight:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Turning, I could see the pod in the distance:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
As I continued exploring the terrain, I saw the pod again from around a hill:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Walking around the front of the pod, I could see the sunlight streaming through the cracks in the window--something interesting is about to happen inside but I have more important zoological matters to attend to out here:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Since I had seen no sign of the Sandscrit in the more immediate area, it was time to begin exploring the areas past the surrounding sand dunes. Sure enough, behind one of the sand dunes, there was a Sandscrit. I might have missed him, too, as he had buried himself up to his eyeballs in the sand! An unexpected and very interesting behavior! Perhaps it serves as a shelter from the fierce winds when he's not out foraging? Or perhaps it offers a degree of warmth? Although the Sandscrit hide must be thick and resilient in this harsh climate, perhaps he still needs to protect himself to a degree.

Upon first approaching the Sandscrit; what an unexpected surprise to find he's buried himself in the sand:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Approaching him from the front, he remains calm as I get close:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Even closer; he finally reacted shortly after I took this photo. You can see that his eyes and nostrils remain above the sand while the rest is buried:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
After climbing out of the sand and shaking himself off, he simply stood there watching me:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
As I began to move away from him, he continued to stand calmly:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
He let me circle around behind him:
[spoiler]Image[/spoiler]
Overall, I found the Sandscrit to be surprisingly docile, similar to his Urwin cousin. I suppose he has no natural enemies in this environment and certainly if he judged me by my relative size, I was no threat to him. I found no others within the vicinity, so I surmise that they are solitary animals, possibly very territorial.

I ended my Payiferen expedition at this point since I was eager to get out of that wind. I expect I will continue to find sand in my hair and clothes for days.

Next up: Dereno

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