A few photos I took

February 20, 2023 • 1:45 pm

The world was accurately characterized by Matthew Cobb the other day, as relayed by his partner Tina:

I’ll try to improve things with a few of my pictures. Pardon the ones of me: I was looking through my photos and remembering old times and good times. I’ll do more of these from time to time, because they cheer me up, at least!

First, one of Dorothy’s ducklings:

And me about to spend a sleepless night with a rescue duckling, Sam (sex unknown). Sam was taken to rehab the next morning. The wee thing, one day old, spent the night on my chest (with my hand cupped over him to imitate Mom’s wing) or in my armpit. I dared no sleep lest I crush it. All night long he’d vibrate his tiny body against me, which I understand is what ducklings do under mom to let her know they’re there and alive.

Woman gathering land snails for dinner, taken while I was doing field work on São Tomé:

Collecting flies in the wet forest, São Tomé:

The long climb to the island’s peak. I’m not sure who took these photos, it was likely my postdoc Ana Llopart:

Home from a week in the forest. Our field crew on São Tomé (to the extreme right is the late Daniel Lachaise from the CNRS outside Paris, who organized most of these expeditions):

Me at the Karni Mata (“Rat”) Temple in Deshnok, India. Note the cultural appropriation. Some of the gazillion rats who inhabit the temple as sacred beings are drinking offerings of cream.

Death Valley from above. Normally there is very little vegetation: saltbush and mesquite. The white are the salt pans, remnants of an ancient lake.  There are flies throughout this desolate valley, which is why I was there.

A rare bloom in Death Valley—happens about once a decade. Those flowers are insect pollinated, but where do the insects come from?


Dusty, the stray kitten who lived in the lab for a couple of weeks in 2006 until we found him a forever home:

Wessex: The house where Thomas Hardy was born and grew up:

Clouds Hill: T. E. Lawrence’s home (“Lawrence of Arabia”) where he lived until he crashed his motorbike nearby and died:

When the Spanish have a meeting, they do it right. A plate o’ seafood at the Littorina conference in Galicia. Don’t ask me why I was there.

. . . and Honey, of course:


20 thoughts on “A few photos I took

  1. A very enjoyable collection of images and memories. You have had an interesting and productive life, professor! And, happily for us, it continues.

  2. Fun photos to see! That first little duckling from Dorothy is unbelievably cute.
    This collection is very uplifting and I would love to see more.

  3. I love the photos. The pictures of Death Valley remind me of the good old days working with you, Turelli, and Prout. You all certainly enjoyed doing research in the desert.

  4. It might be fun to make sharing photos of your field work and travels a regular feature, Jerry. I know I would enjoy seeing more.

  5. Amazing seafood plate at the Littorina conference! I done some experiments on gastropod respiration when in graduate school, and one of my subjects was the New England snail Littorina littorea, also known as the Common Periwinkle.

  6. I always enjoy your photos and I’m envious of your time in Sao Tome. My connection is with Equatorial Guinea to S.T.’s north and was political rather than biological. 🙂
    Recently I read (from the UN I think) about alcoholism being a huge problem in S.T.

  7. A plate o’ seafood at the Littorina conference in Galicia. Don’t ask me why I was there.

    The seafood looks like reason enough.

  8. Where do the insects come from? I’ve wondered this ever since I read that you collected flies there. I know from experience that drosophila are amazing at just appearing from nowhere if you discard some fruit / veg. Though that’s explained by the fact that loads of them are usually close by, and it needs only a few to find my apple core to result in hundreds a few days later.

    But why on earth are they just hanging around in Death Valley? And why doesn’t the heat, combined with the absence of vegetation and water kill them in short order, or at least make them get outta there? I’ve wanted to ask before, but never had an excuse. This seems like the perfect opportunity to do so!

    Also, I want to say that those photos from your field trips are excellent and really interesting. Thanks and please keep them coming!

    1. It is a fascinating question. I suppose one possibility is that many arrive with the same atmospheric movements that brought the rains that caused the plants to germinate and bloom. Radar studies have revealed that there are massive movements of moths and other insects, often at significant altitude. Such movements could bring insects into death valley from far away so there is no need for them to be there all the time just waiting for those once a decade rains. I’m just speculating here and would be interested to know if other people have different or better hypotheses.

      1. Thanks. I think you are probably correct in surmising that they may come with weather movements. However, I believe PCC(E) went fly collecting in Death Valley at arbitrary times, not just when the flowers or weather were favourable. That’s the thing that confuses me most.

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