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Small Favours

I’ve always been telling myself that I should delve deeper into the world of the small scale – reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, every infinitesimally microscopic organism is as important as the other, after all. It’s just that I really fancy my avian subjects and usually get distracted by them. Probably because I had a great dinosaur affinity as a child. Still do, in a certain weird way it applies to birds and could explain how I obsess over them. Occasionally, however, I do make the time to photograph some of our smaller creatures, some much maligned creatures they are. This little fellow will grow up to be a coppery-eyed Cane Toad, your friendly neighbourhood Crapaud.

cane toad-2






Also due to the ratio of time I spend reading up on birds versus any other creature, identifying them becomes a bit tricky. I’d appreciate any help in this regard! I thought this little frog was a type of glass frog, but I’m not sure which, or if I’m far off in my stab at amphibian ID.








The thing about this small world is that although it’s taking place in the same space we’re inhabiting, their existence is strikingly similar to ours, albeit alien on the surface. I spent some time observing a group of Water Striders in a river in Tobago, enjoying how water to them, is land to us.








Nearby, we caught two grasshoppers supposedly in the act.








As I was photographing the grasshoppers, I noticed a small movement in the corner of my eye. A beautiful little spider. Then more movement elsewhere. The more I sat in the grass was the more spiders I saw. Perhaps spiderlings of some larger species? These were approximately 1″ across. Either way, I loved how they posed for me.







On a nighttime mission, we caught this larger-than-my-hand tarantula in our headlights. To me it looks like a Trinidad Chevron, but I’m not sure if they occur on Tobago. It always amazes me how gentle these arachnids are!

chevron tarantula







To most people, butterflies are significantly more friendly looking than spiders – although I actually would pick the latter, coming to think of it. They still are wonderful creatures, from the cryptic to the extravagant. Most species travel this exact spectrum with their own coloration, dazzling colours while flying give way to perfect camouflage while perched, wings closed. The entire family of Owl Butterflies exhibits this stark difference, some with a stunning deep ocean blue on the inner sides of the closed wings. This extreme mimicry serves them well as they aren’t strong fliers, and can only travel short distances at a time. Further, they spend a fair amount of time eating fallen fruit, so it’d sure be an asset to be able to hide in plain sight.

owl butterfly







This Dirce Beauty seems to prefer to alight on a vertical or near-vertical surface, head down. Perhaps the spots on its rear end form another manner of mimicry, by creating a false “head”, thus giving it a better chance of escape should it end up being attacked.

dirce beauty










Red tends to stand out in nature, as few plants and animals wear the colour. Many species of insect do, however. The aptly named Red Rim is also called Crimson-banded Black, imaginative as it got those days I guess.

red rim






The similarly coloured Postman is a refreshing staple of gardens in Trinidad, and one of the first few species of butterfly I was able to readily identify. There are a couple species of Postman, though – which is a whole other scene.







Able to make a meal out of an unwary butterfly, this large male Rainbow Whiptail was actually more concerned with chasing other rival males off its territory than with finding a munch. He would pose on a small mound and wave his foreleg, probably saying “goodbye, loser” to a recently defeated male. Or beckoning any watching females. Interesting life nonetheless. Much different from our own?

rainbow whiptail-3







Most of what I learned about butterflies, I learned from TT Nature Link – check it out!

8 thoughts on “Small Favours

    1. Hi Asif,

      Thanks for that! I’m looking at pictures of S. lacteus and it seems a little more pointy-edged than this one though. But don’t know if that’s a different subspecies or anything. I was looking at John Murphy’s site and didn’t find anything that matched. Sphaenorhynchus lacteus

    2. Asif – Mike Rutherford confirmed your ID is correct – the one I photographed is just a juvenile, so it hasn’t yet achieved the angled look of the adult.

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