During my camera trap research, I’ve had to move two of my cameras to another location away from the Beaver Pond at 3RF. The cattails, marsh fleabane and cockleburs had overtaken the pond to where no wildlife was utilizing the pond and its limited stagnate water.
As part of my research, I’ve been documenting the flora of 3RF these last two years. I stopped the Gator to photograph the pond and its overgrowth. Since 2012, the pond has gradually become overtaken by cattails because these plants love shallow water. I walked over and stood under a juniper tree near the pond’s southern edge. The early evening light was just beginning to set. No birds were calling. It was almost as if it was dead still except for the gentle breeze.
As often as happens with my fieldwork I will honestly admit I do sometimes feel like I’m not alone. Like I’m being watched by whatever creature that is stealthy moving about.
The feeling of being watched at this moment was overpowering. I knew a porcupine was in the area of the Beaver Pond, but I’d never seen him/her during the day. I’ve spotted other porcupine’s during the day high up in trees. I instinctively looked up at the juniper tree and that’s when I saw these small eyes staring back at me.
This praying mantis(Mantis religiosa) was turning its head side-to-side almost to a 180-degree angle. Then it stopped moving and we just stared each other. It was very curious about me. I brought my camera up and began photographing it. I was so close that I got a really good look at its triangular head and tiny eyes.
A carnivorous insect – the praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs. Their legs are bent and held together at an angle suggesting a position of it being in prayer. A larger group of these insects is called the praying mantids.
I got my other photographs and left the teacup sized insect to its hunting. I never would’ve thought that the innate feeling of being watched would come from such a curious small creature.
Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography