Potato Bug and Niño de la Tierra (Child of the Earth) are common names for this mysterious insect. With its big head and overall size of up to two inches, it never fails to surprise me when I come across one while working outdoors. Most often we meet when I am digging in the soil. Overturning rocks or items on the ground will sometimes expose them. Each one looks a little different; some are quite plump and round while others are more elongated. Their colors can be lighter or darker, too. Usually, they just want to get away. I will gently move them to safety with a gloved hand so they can get back to eating dead organic matter away from where I am working.
The equivalent of antelopes resting next to a lion, these doves were unfazed as they relaxed and preened in the presence of an equally peaceful hawk, who under normal circumstances would have them for breakfast.
On the morning of the Winter Solstice, there were no birds to be seen in the yard. Silence. Usually, this signifies the presence of a hawk. Stepping outside to investigate, I witnessed an unexpected sight...
Pronounced TAH-kin, this stocky goat-antelope is native to China’s remote mountain forests. Like so many other animals these days, Takin are threatened by overhunting, habitat loss, and fragmentation. A small herd lives at the Los Angeles Zoo.