Lessons On Blending In at a Stag Party in Coyote Country

You can hide behind stuff. Sure, you might get spotted, but I bet that most times you don’t.

And, in the end, the sagebrush masks one’s intentions. In a landscape that’s a bushy maze, the first move is critical. You remain in control as long as you can hold both that move and enough distance to take advantage of it.

And once spotted, break your movement up into periods of freezing. You remain unpredictable. For this reason, freeze in the open, not when hidden. When hidden, move fast, so you can freeze where everyone can see you, but can’t read your mind.

Being truly hidden is a disadvantage, unless you aren’t seen in the first place. That is the position with the greatest openness of all, and openness is everything. This lesson in reciprocal respect is invaluable.

Excellent colour matching helps distract predators drawn to beauty, too.

Loons Confusing Eagles

I’ve watched loons intimately for 25 years, and I just noticed a couple of splendid bits of camouflage for the first time. The light was right. First, the tail. Not only does it hold a chick on that scooped back but in the absence of a young chick riding up there, it looks like one. Confuses an eagle like all get out, I suspect. Eagles aren’t that bright.P1200861 Thing is, there are two loons, rarely together, and usually one chick, often floating alone in the middle of the lake, on the principle that eagles are punctual (they are) and can be relied on (well, not really; they’re slouches). The chicks are often riding, though. When larger, they’re swimming at a parent’s breast, usually Mom’s, although Dad brings fish, so that’s good. And look at this second bit of camouflage: a ghost chick swimming along at the breast line. It’s all in the feathers.P1200878

Or is the chick in behind and slightly older, with its head peeking up, going in the opposite direction as Mom? An eagle is slouching at speed. It can count, but, sheesh, where to go? This moment’s hesitation is why there are still loons, because by the time the eagle has figured out, it has passed by. Beautiful!

Camouflage is the Wrong Word

Camouflage is the military art of concealment. As a word it has been back-engineered to apply to the actions of animals, like the toad below. The toad is not concealing itself, though. It has been selected for its environment.P1170974

Camouflage comes from French slang: camouflet, for a puff of smoke blown in someone’s face, similar to the Italian Capo Muffare, to muffle the head. Toad’s aren’t muffling. They are evolving at one with their environment. It is an organic process, not an intentional one. If there is intentionality, there is intentionality of the observer, or the observational metaphor. It’s not the toad. What the toad has is presence. Here-ness. Now-ness. It is a form of stillness.

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No matter what the light does. That is far more beautiful and profound than “camouflage.” It’s time to discard these military words for organic earth. They just don’t fit.

Cool Camouflage

The trick is to put two fake eyes and fake feelers on the top of your wings, while hiding out down below as if you were upside down. Just the fake eyes or the fake feelers would fool no one. It’s got to be the combination.P1760711

 

Western Blue Butterfly

And how do you like those snowdrifts of cat tail fluff, eh! A fine touch.

Garage Sex, Okanagan Style

The marriage bed.

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Go away for 3 weeks and the neighbours move in, with each other on their mind. Madam came first.

Mrs.

Yeah, she didn’t pose very well, but there was all this, um, mosquito netting in the way of my lens, so I did what I could. Notice how she has learned to blend in with the black “Tuck Tape” background, to stay out of my way. She’s grown about 30% since I came back home. The gentleman arrived 2 weeks later …

mr

He’s about 25% of her size. The black sheets don’t help him. He is, as you can see, going for red, the colour of love. It’s a slow dance. Well, that’s what’s going around here with the black widows. How’s the action at your place?

Garter Snake Fishing

Meet the fisher.

headupLook how beautiful she is. (About 3 feet long.)

swimming

Inspect her fishing tackle.

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And her hidey hole. She looks like a beaver peeled stick lying in the shallows.

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Note the two 3-inch fish in the foreground. They are edging quickly closer.

Note the expanded technique. She (he?) held this position for 30 seconds. No luck. Note the fish edging in from the left.

twofishTotal time underwater: about 4 minutes. Fish caught: 0. But it was very close. Amazing!

All pictures: Conconully Lake, Washington