January 28th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

We made another excursion to Fort Louis and found a number of new and informative signs. Restorations were also made to many of the canons, which were placed in battle formations. We also visited the museum for the first time since its restoration and found it quite informative, particularly with regard to the prehistoric inhabitants of the island, which came in several successive waves.

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January 27th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Last Tuesday was the second of many Grand Case Mardi Gras nights. This time I took a lens that could autofocus and I think the photos came out a little better. You can see the band, Kevin, some kid with an awesome purple hat and much more.

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January 26th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

On January 22nd, we headed up towards Tintamarre as we often do, first diving Japanese Reef.

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Next, we were going to go to Basse Espagnole, but the heavy surf made us choose The Tugboat instead. Our dive started off quite nicely with a pair of southern stingrays, and then was relatively uneventful as we cruised the nearby reef. As we were heading back, suddenly we were approached by a pod of 11 dolphins, who swam around us for several minutes. The pod included adults and at least one small calf or whatever they call a young dolphin. One showoff even came back after the pod had moved on to treat us to some underwater acrobatics.

I, of course, had my 85mm macro lens. This would have been the ideal lens for photographing three inch dolphins, but was not very appropriate for ten footers. Luckily, Jenn got some great video that we will post soon.

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January 25th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Here are a few shots of our last snorkeling class with Kevin. You might also want to check out his blog. We’re going to feature him as a guest blogger soon, so stay tuned.

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January 22nd, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Earlier this week I made a couple trips to the valley that is ringed on one side by Bell Hill, Goat Mountain, Pea Tree Hill and Pigeon-Pea Hill and on the other by Anse Marcel. The area doesn’t have a specific name as far as I can tell. During my first jaunt there in late afternoon, the calls of cattle were surprisingly loud and echoing off the hillsides, creating an ominous feel. The area is more or less undeveloped, although there are dirt roads leading to different parcels of land that are used as goat or cow pasture.

On my way out the second time, I found a large number of brightly-colored sphinx moth caterpillars on a tree with pretty yellow flowers (Plumeria, commonly known as frangipani). Subsequent research identified them as tetrio sphinx (Pseudosphinx tetrio), the adult being unfortunately much less colorful than the caterpillar. I also got a decent photo of one of the scurrying, ground-dwelling lizards and a caterpillar pooping.

I lucked into a couple interesting spider sightings: one of the large spiders with a freshly caught butterfly and a small green, yellow and red spider that was lying in wait on small blossoms ready to capture any insects that came by for nectar. I also found a very small anole with turquoise eye shadow and some bright orange fungi.

At the top of an unnamed hill I also found the same tree that is at the top of Goat Mountain and the peak near Molly Smith Point. There were two of them at the peak of the hill and one had interesting two-pronged seed pods in various stages of growth. Rounding out the set are various butterflies, caterpillars and a few shots of the local terrain.

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January 22nd, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Tuesday was the first Harmony Night of the year. For the next several months, every Tuesday night will see the main street of Grand Case closed off for a mini Mardi Gras celebration. I went out with a vintage Nikon 50mm lens that has no automatic metering or focus, which made for either a challenge, or an exercise in futility, depending on your point of view, but I had fun trying.

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January 20th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Snorkeling out towards Bell Point amongst the large rocks along the shore and nearby grassy areas, I encountered a number of interesting creatures and some nice views of Creole Rock. In addition to the species pictured below, highlights included a close encounter with a spotted eagle ray and a night sergeant (Abudefduf taurus) the larger, duskier relative of the very common sergeant major. Although the area boasts only a scattered of small corals, it was abundant in the shallow water variation of the yellow tube sponge, which is my favorite sponge because they look like fairy castles.

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January 17th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Below are a few photos from around Grand Case: flowers and butterflies, a dead pigeon with its beak tucked behind its wing, a wasp, a bee-imitating fly popping a wheelie, damselflies in two colors, two spiders sharing a nest, an ant getting something from a white blob creature, dragonflies and monarchs making love.

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January 15th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Things Magazine was kind enough to post some survival manuals from the 50s, including one on Sea Survival. Key areas include having a plan of action in your dignhy, obtaining water from icebergs and fish juices, and remembering to not drink urine. You can also learn how to improvise fish hooks and learn to identify fish you shouldn’t eat – “good flesh should be firm and not slimy.”

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January 14th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Hundreds of baby spiders scramble in a mass like schooling fish, most will die before they even approach adulthood. A great southern white flaps itself to exhaustion and its wings to tatters while caught in a web. Tiny butterfly eggs are laid at the ends of delicate stalks for their protection. A plant is deformed by tumor-like growths. Ants guard aphids in exchange for their sweet excretions. The struggle for existence carries on at Goat Mountain.

In other news, I finished the best travel book of all time, The Voyage of the Beagle and I’m reading On the Origin of Species which continually amazes me, particularly when I remember that Darwin knew basically nothing about the mechanics that make his theory possible. Genetics? Carbon dating of fossils? Darwin unlocked the most important mystery of biology during a time when folks thought miasma caused tropical diseases.

In addition to the usual suspects (goat skulls, hairstreaks, etc.) I also spotted a new (to me) butterfly, the Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus), and after some considerable stalking was able to get a couple photos good enough to make the ID, but certainly not worth framing.

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