Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From Bermuda: Nature Blog Networking

Skulking through the understory near my hotel room in Bermuda, this little non-native Jamaican turquoise anole (Anolis grahami) reminds me that even in the middle of a hectic work day - even in the most unexpected places - nature abounds. Even if its out-of-bounds -- Jamaica is far, far form here my little multicolored friend.

This may be as close as I ever get to the ocean this week - on location we're on the clock 24/7. I stop every chance I get, though, to marvel at this turquoise blue water. I walk by this vista a dozen times a day and every time I am still not prepared for how it will take my breath away. We live in a rich, rich, colorful world -- if only we would take time to notice it.

I stop to breath in turquoise - it gets me through this long day of air conditioned ballrooms, moldy carpet, and the vastly over-perfumed.

A great kiskadee calls from the treetops on the hotel pathway. I break ranks and run outside to listen. I feel fortunate that from my office I can hear a kiskadee calling

or flush a turquoise-tailed lizard from under my chair.

The virtual world of nature is never faraway, either. Often, if feeling overwhelmed by spread sheets and memos and mail merges - I sneak off for a moment and visit my friends in the nature blogworld and discover that Motmot's painting some marvelous looking bird in a Panamanian rainforest, Zick and the Baker are sniffing out morels on Indigo Hill; Mary is working rat snake patrol for a couple of lazy lizards and Doug has found an atlas moth. These friends and their discoveries also get me through the day.

Yesterday I toggle the keyboard and up comes The Nature Blog Networks Featured Blog: From the Faraway, Nearby. Hey! That's me. Thank you, Wren, for the interview and the opportunity to be featured on the Nature Blog Network. I am extremely proud to be a part of this incredible community of nature bloggers. The Nature Blog Network is now home to 932 blogs dedicated to bringing the very best of the natural world. Be sure to stop by and check out a few.

Two nights ago an early evening storm here gave way to sky full of mangoes and raspberries. The perfect dessert with which to end the night.

The cool damp air brought in a couple of these little flying guys toward the brightly lit desk lamp - gnats? ants? wasps? I had no idea but I was fascinated. Now, let me show you Nature Blog Networking in its finest moment. I am marveling the odd shape of this phenomenal looking little bug. At just that time my Skype icon chimes on the computer alerting me that a mutual friend is in the room. I take a peek - there is Debby Kaspari, nature blogger extraordinaire, fresh off the plane from the jungles of Panama instant messaging me from home in Oklahoma. I'm telling her about these ant-wasp-gnat creatures that are converging all around me. She says take a pic. I do and email it to her while we are in full chat mode catching up on our respective travels and time away from home - she whips the photo off to her husband Mike Kaspari, a renowned ant ecologist, who at that moment is black lighting for queen ants in a pitch black forest in Panama and he makes a positive ID: a male dolichoderine*.

Lower right, Nature Blogger Debby Kaspari in Oklahoma video chats with ant ecologist Mike Kaspari, holding a ginormous queen ant, in a field lab in Panama while TR in Bermuda listens in via Skype chat.
From a hotel desktop in Bermuda my little ant goes to Oklahoma for inspection and is instantly forwarded to the jungles of Panama to be examined by an ant expert who is Zero degrees removed from E.O. Wilson! This is nature blog networking at its finest! Indeed, we are part of an extraordinary community.

Tomorrow - my last day in Bermuda - I cannot wait to get back home. Purple coneflowers are calling, the butterfly bushes must be in full bloom and the passion flower vines are surely arching over the deck by now.

I'll miss my turquoise-tailed little friends from my portable office. Thanks for the company

*Dolichoderinae is a subfamily of ants, which includes species such as the Argentine antLinepithema humile), the erratic ant, the odorous house ant, and the cone ant. This subfamily is distinguished by having a single petiole (no post-petiole) and a slit-like orifice, rather than the round acidopore encircled by hairs that typifies the subfamily Formicinae. Dolichoderine ants do not possess a sting, unlike ants in some other subfamilies, such as Ponerinae and Myrmicinae. This subfamily is not currently divided into tribes, but there are 24 genera.
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