SMBO 2015 – 15

Welcome to your fifteenth edition of Stalking Mike Blair Outdoors. If you didn’t notice it on facebook we have a new event ongoing. If you remember, a few weeks ago we did an exclusive interview with Mike Blair and I mentioned that round two would be up to you stalkers. Well here’s your chance, get curious and nosy. What would you like to know about Mike Blair, his work, his experience, or perhaps his life? Ask your questions – submit them by emailing them to mike{at}mikeblairoutdoors{dot}com, messaging our page on facebook or commenting on the post. For every question you submit your name will be submitted into a drawing for a free copy of Mike Blair’s book Monty Monarch: The Story of a Butterfly.  The deadline for entries will be April 30th, so get thinking and submit your questions!product_thumbnail

 “Life is all around us, and there’s so much of interest to learn. Look for the things that hide under our noses. They’re always there, if we simply take time to look.” ~Mike Blair~

+42Pictured above is a Northern Water Snake and a Painted Turtle sunbathing together. This picture is significant for two reasons: it is uncommon for snakes to allow other reptiles to sunbath with them, unless it is a fellow snake and the two are covered with green duckweed. This isn’t particularly uncommon but it gives them excellent camouflage, giving them the ability to blend into their green surroundings. Would you have spotted this pair if you had been out for a walk and hadn’t been looking for them? As Blair has said – there is an art in seeing.

He talks about this art in his youtube video The Art Of Seeinggo check it out. While there are some animals and other creatures have bright brilliant colors so that they can be noticed and stand out, warning predators away, some have a natural camouflage that help protect them23. This natural camouflage increases their odds of survival by tricking potential predators. Look at this picture, what do you see? The tail is a skunk on the hunt, and inside the white circle is a frog escaping his fate. Would you have seen that frog without the help of Blair’s circle? I don’t think I would have, and neither did the skunk.

Some creatures are camouflaged throughout their entire life cycle.3

Do you see it? How about a closeup?

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Still having problems?

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This is what you were looking for. It’s a Sphinx Moth in the larval stage. It camouflages itself with it’s orange spots against the leaves of wild plum plants. These plants get similar orange spots before they completely turn and loose their leaves.

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Can you spot the two adult Spinx Moths on this large elm? Sneaky aren’t they? Fortunately for us, Blair’s ability to successfully shoot quality photographs enable us to spot some of these creatures easier than we would in the wild.

Camouflage all depends on the particular creature’s habitat, behavior and natural predators. These are all important factors for successful camouflage. If their predators are color blind, there’s no reason for it to match color, only shape or pattern.+4235 Or perhaps it’s camouflage is looking like something else.

Walking sticks are a perfect example of camouflage. Their color, shape and behavior all contribute to its ability to hide. Pictured is two mating walking sticks. One is brown, the other is green. Their habitat is hides them well and their slow movements avoid drawing attention to them.

6 Other camouflage is a bit more flexible. Some creatures have the ability to change their color to match their surroundings. Some species of crab spiders have this ability. Can you spot the spider on this flower? In this situation, its ability to camouflage itself not only protects it from predators but also allows it to BE a predator.

11This is an American Bittern. Its camouflage involves its color, however, it also involves the pattern of its appearance. The ways its feathers lay and the direction of spots, strips and other patterns. This same type of camouflage can be seen on this bird.

31Some animals don’t require such detailed camouflage. Many animals that life areas with foliage are just brown. This could be because they have the ability to move quickly to avoid capture if they are spotted by predators or it could be because their surroundings change. These animal’s strategy is usually to hold perfectly still while either stalking prey or attempting to be invisible. Blair’s focus and zoom ability give you a helping hand but what do you see in these photos?

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While some camouflages are excellent for being unseen, som8e animals have a tell that aid you in seeing them. Blair outlines a few of these tips in his videos. One simple one is the wolf spider. Their eyes have a tapetum that will reflect light. This appears as shining green diamonds. So, to find wolf spiders, take a flashlight out at night, hold it at eye level and sweep the beam across the ground. Look for the green diamond like reflections that will be staring at you.

Here are a couple more videos that talk about the art of seeing:

Mike Blair Intro & Wild Edge 2 Trailer

Don’t forget to submit your questions for Blair! For every question you submit you will be entered to win a free copy of Monty Monarch. So don’t be shy!

Test your eyes and your ability to “see” with the Art Of Seeing Gallery!