IDs are arrived at by casual internet image search and are probably okay. I would not cite me in your dissertation.
The awkward thing about photographing small creatures with my bird rig is that at full zoom (600mm) the minimum focus distance is over 9 feet (2.8 meters) so if I am any closer than that to the subject, I have to back up. Also, given that this is not an especially fast lens, I have to work in bright sunlight to get an acceptable result. This is 1/4000 at f6.3 (wide open—should have stopped it down) with image stabilization and the details are STILL a tad soft. But I’m happy to get what I got. I was in the parking lot at the laundromat while my clothes were in the drier.
Canon 90D, Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3, image is ~50% crop, and it was hot out, and the sun got in my eyes.
Native to South America, the Black Velvet Leatherleaf Slug is by far the most stylish of mollusks. In appearance it is unlike any of our native slugs and is being monitored as an invasive species by the scientists who concern themselves with that sort of thing. It is clearly the Batman-villain of lawn sod and forest leaf mat. Sightings have been recorded in all the US gulf coast states since 2005, when it was first spotted in Florida. This one crossed my path at a nearby park here in Houston, Texas.
Clouds break up the monotonous blue expanse above and the light, illuminating it all down to the last wispy puff, has yet to deal with the billions of serrated leaf edges awaiting its arrival down here in the thick of nature, whose every quality owes much to humanity’s rare neglect.
Did not see many birds on my walk yesterday. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are here for the winter and I caught sight of a Tennessee Warbler. Early morning light makes the myriad details of a Texas prairie erupt in a festival for the eyes. I walked the trails in silence, slipping my mask back up over my nose when I encountered other people.
I did see and photograph a mute Mockingbird contemplating something relating to life as birds would have it. She sat still for it, which is the only way I can grab a bird portrait at distance. (Idea for a camera feature: button that emits a silent signal heard only by wildlife that says, “stay still for a moment, it’s important.”)
Mocking-Bird by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers, Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o’er the water, Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music, That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen. Plaintive at first were the tones and sad: then soaring to madness Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes. Single notes were then heard, in sorrowful, low lamentation; Till, having gathered them all, he flung them abroad in derision, As when, after a storm, a gust of wind through the tree-tops Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches.
Bothered a little by some lower back pain, I cut my walk short and was soon racing along on Houston’s 610 Loop, in sync with the speeding hordes, light scattering off of pavement and chrome bumpers, and nature somehow accommodating it all. I feel like a voyeur, sneaking peeks at the beauty of the world from a little hiding spot not quite in it.