Thursday, March 22, 2018

Jumiles (Stink Bug) Salsa

Jumiles are stink bugs in the Taxco region of Mexico, Guerrero State, that are collected to be eaten. They are eaten raw (whole or ground), or roasted or fried. A salsa is prepared with them using jumiles that have been crushed in a molcajete, with added green tomatoes (tomatillos), chiles, onions and garlic. 
One of the stink bugs on my plate before it flew away.
A baggie with the left over stink bugs that were not used to make our salsa.
Taxco has a festival featuring the jumile on November 1, the beginning of the season, and crown a Jumil Queen. The season lasts until February when the jumiles become much less common. 

Our guide, Arnold Pedrosa, took us to del Angel Inn in Taxco and as we walked in, he asked a waiter to go to the market and buy jumiles and make the salsa for us. Later, our waiter brought us up the salsa along with some guacamole and tortillas and the remaining jumiles they'd purchased in a plastic baggie. The waiter let one of the jumiles out on to my plate where I got a picture before it flew away. 
The jumiles salsa
The salsa had little black floaties in it that I assume were jumiles pieces and it had a distinctive taste beyond the normal tomatillo and other ingredients. They have been described as having a "bitter, medicinal flavor" because of their high iodine content. In combination with the other ingredients the flavor was not bitter, but the normal sweetness and saltiness of the other ingredients were tempered. 
The salsa on a corn tortilla.
I tried the jumiles salsa on chips, on a corn tortilla and on a corn tortilla with guacamole. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana

While visiting the Mayan ruins in Comalcalco, Mexico, in the State of Tabasco, we encountered lots of iguanas sunning themselves on the ruins and hiding in nearby holes in the ground and holes and crevices in the ruins. The temperature was in the high 90s, as was the humidity. 
Judy found this big guy at the edge of some ruins and he scampered in his hole as I got near. 
We saw him again later, basking on a rock, then he scampered into the hole again as I approached. 
I found this young female scampering along in the grass near me. 
I have not determined the species with certainty, but I believe we were seeing the black spiny-tailed iguana which is found in Central America from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Nicaragua and Panama. 
I got pictures of this big guy from various angles, basking on the ruins. Note how much more tan he is. 

The same iguana taken later from the other side. 
The name comes from black keeled scales on their long tails. Males can grow to four feet, three inches in length, and females are shorter, growing as long as three feet three inches. They have a crest of spines that extend down the center of their backs, with males having a more developed crest and dewlap. Color varies extremely, but adults usually are whitish gray or tan with 4 to 12 dark dorsal bands. While basking, the color can lighten with yellowish and orange markings on the sides. During mating season males turn orange around the head and throat with highlights of blue and peach on the jowls. 
This youngster emerged from a hole just under the trail we were walking on. 
This adult extended its head out of a hole, then pulled in as we approached. 
This adult female was on a fountain near the parking lot. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Myrtle Warbler

The yellow rumped warbler has four subspecies, but there is a current proposal to split those subspecies into four separate species. Goldman's warbler, one of the subspecies, is found in the highlands of Guatemala and is non-migratory. The black-fronted warbler, another, is found in Mexico and is also non-migratory. Two of the subspecies are found in the U.S. and both are migratory and winter in the southern U.S. and down into Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The Audubon warbler is found on the western U.S. and the myrtle warbler is found in the eastern U.S. 
This flying bird gives the best look at various elements. You can just see the yellow patch on its rear, the yellow patch on the side and the white bars on the wings. It is in its brown, non-breeding plumage. 
Male Audubon and myrtle warblers both have yellow rumps and yellow side patches. The Audubon has a yellow throat and the myrtle has a white throat and a black mask. Females in breeding plumage have two white wing bars and adults in non-breeding plumage are brownish overall . They have thin, sharp bills and notched tails. 
You see the more whitish throat and a good dose of the yellow side patch. 
I saw this myrtle warbler in the Viera Wetlands near Melbourne, Florida. 
This photo shows the notched tail, but the yellow rump patch is covered by the wings. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Moose and Potato Pie

A friend who knows I like wild meats gave me a gift of moose meat that a relative bottled and canned in Labrador, Canada. We were having LDS missionaries over for dinner and I like to serve wild meat to them when they come. It makes them want to come to our house for dinner and gives them something fun to write home about. 
Bottled moose
Canned moose
Judy volunteered to make a moose and potato pie. We opened both the bottled moose and canned moose and mixed them together with peas, onions, carrots and zucchini and I'm not sure what else, Judy did it while I was at work. 
Moose mixed in with vegetables. 
She made a pie crust for the base, put in the meat and vegetable mixture, then covered it with mashed potatoes and put in in the oven to bake. 
Pie crust
Finished product covered with mashed potatoes.
The end product was great. The moose meat, which tasted a lot like canned beef, was moister and more flavorful and the mashed potatoes added a wonderful flavor and softer mouth feel. 
Cross-section of the pie.
It was a marvelous use of the moose meat. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

American Alligator

I've seen enough alligators now that I'm not quite as excited as I used to be. However, I still love to see them. In my January 2018 visit to Florida and southern Georgia I saw quite a few, including 20 in one morning at the Orlando Wetlands Park. Here are my favorite pictures from this most recent trip.
This scenery shot from Orlando Wetlands shows the broad expanse of the water there. Most of the gators I saw there were on land right at the edge of the water. 
The various trails had names. I particularly enjoyed the name "Alligator Alley."
This scenery shot from Circle B Bar Reserve shows the dike system that separates the water and provide places for the alligators to sun themselves. 
From Okefenokee NWR in Southern Georgia. This is a blackwater swamp and the floating leaves provide color and camouflage for the alligator. 
One of my favorite alligator photos (at Orlando Wetlands). I got down on the alligator's level, eye to eye. 
Swimming gator at Orlando Wetlands.
Also at Orlando Wetlands.
At Circle B Bar.
A close-up of this big guy's (or girl's) teeth.
I love the black water at Okefenokee and the reddish and yellowish leaves on the water. The yellow matches the yellow on the underside of the gator's head. 
This water is only about 18 inches deep. 
A very young (and small) gator at Circle B Bar.
Circle B Bar
Circle B Bar
Orlando Wetlands
Although I saw more gators at Orlando Wetlands, I liked the backdrops better at Circle B Bar and Okefenokee. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Harris Hawk - Sky Falconry

As a gift for our anniversary, Judy got us signed up for a basic falonry class at Sky Falconry in Alpine, California, northeast of San Diego. After driving to Alpine we drove to the outskirts and then a number of miles down a dirt road and through a locked gate to a beautiful mountainside with very little nearby habitation.
There we were introduced to a Harris hawk, learned about falconry, why Harris hawks are good birds for falconry and then had multiple opportunities to hold the hawk on our gloved hand and have it land on our hand from a flight, then send the hawk on to someone else. 
Judy has her hand out for the Harris hawk to land on. 
The hawk comes in for a landing on Judy's hand. 
The hawk on Judy's hand. 
At the end we were able to each throw some quail pieces in the air and watch the hawk grab it with its claws out of the air. 

I've seen one wild Harris hawk last year, in Cabeza Prieta NWR outside Ajo, Arizona. However, it was difficult to get very close to it. With this captive hawk, we got the thrill of close-up views, different angles of it in flight, and fantastic photo opportunities.