30 April 2016

Harlequin Shrimp

 
Harlequin Shrimp (釉彩臘膜蝦)
Kiribati (2005)

2nd March, 2016. Tarawa

Harlequin Shrimp is a species of saltwater shrimp found at coral reefs in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans. It is usually considered the only species in the genus Hymenocera, but some split it into two species: H. picta from the central and east Pacific where the spots are deep pinkish-purple with a yellow edge, and H. elegans from the Indian Ocean and west Pacific where the spots are more brownish and have a blue edge. They reach about 5 centimetres (2.0 in) in length, live in pairs and feed exclusively on starfish, including crown-of-thorns starfish. It does seem to prefer smaller, more sedentary starfish, but as these generally are not sufficiently numerous for its needs, it commonly will attack Acanthaster, both reducing its consumption of coral while under attack, and killing it within a few days.

23 April 2016

Red-crowned Crane

 
Red-crowned Crane (丹頂鶴)
North Korea (2014)

29th Deember, 2015. Pyongyang

Red-crowned cranes are named for a patch of red bare skin on the crown, which becomes brighter in the mating season. Overall, they are snow white in color with black on the wing secondaries, which can appear almost like a black tail when the birds are standing, but the real tail feathers are actually white. Males are black on the cheeks, throat and neck, while females are pearly gray in these spots. The bill is olive green to greenish horn, the legs are slaty to grayish black, and the iris is dark brown.

This species is among the largest cranes, typically measuring about 150 to 158 cm tall and 120–150 cm in length (from bill to tail tip). Across the large wingspan, the red-crowned crane measures 220–250 cm. Typical body weight can range from 7 to 10.5 kg, with males being slightly larger and heavier than females and weight ranging higher just prior to migration. On average, it is the heaviest crane species, although both the sarus and wattled crane can grow taller and exceed this species in linear measurements. The maximum known weight of the red-crowned crane is 15 kg. Among standard measurements, the wing chord measures 56–67 cm, the exposed culmen measures 13.5–16.7 cm and the tarsus measures 25.5–30.1 cm.

9 April 2016

Yellow-billed Stork

Yellow-billed Stork (黃嘴䴉鸛)
Gambia (2011)

9th December, 2015. Tranqueras

Yellow-billed stork, sometimes also called the wood stork or wood ibis, is a large African wading stork species in the Ciconiidae family. It is widespread in regions south of the Sahara and also occurs in Madagascar.

The yellow-billed stork is closely related to 3 other species in the Mycteria genus: the American woodstork (Mycteria americana), the milky stork (Mycteria cinerea) and the painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala). It is classified as belonging to one clade with these 3 other species because they all display remarkable homologies in behavior and morphology. In one analytical study of feeding and courtship behaviours of the wood-stork family, MP Kahl attributed the same general ethology to all members of the Mycteria genus, with few species-specific variations. These four species are collectively referred to as the wood-storks, which should not be confused with one alternative common name (wood-stork) for the yellow-billed stork.

Before it was established that the yellow-billed stork was closely related to the American woodstork, the former was classified as belonging to the genus Ibis, together with the milky stork and painted stork. However, the yellow-billed stork has actually long been recognised as a true stork and along with the other 3 related stork species, it should not strictly be called an ibis.