Canon Pro 90 IS, handheld
380EX flash on off-camera cord
7mm at f2.8
1/60 second at ISO 100
ground skink Scincella lateralis

I don't really remember what I was doing when I found several skink eggs under the leaves at the edge of The Girlfriend's yard – probably, looking for critters. But I took the eggs home and set them up in a terrarium with ground litter and humidity about the same as they were experiencing where I found them. And late one evening, I discovered that some had hatched.

What's funny is, right there at the nose of this newborn ground skink (Scincella lateralis) sits another egg, obviously not deflated like the one to the left. You can just see a little star pattern on the top surface, and yes, that's another on its way out. I noticed this, but at the magnification I needed to use I wasn't sure whether I was really seeing another starting to hatch or not, so I set up the camera and waited. Aware that any movement of mine might prevent the critter from emerging, I shrouded the terrarium sides with black fabric with just a peephole for the camera. At least two hours later, I figured it was never going to emerge in lighting conditions I could photograph within, so I left my vigil to get some food – not actually having turned the lights back down yet. On returning seven minutes later, my photo subject had bailed his eggshell and was running around with the rest. Yes, this is exactly how it goes – bear this in mind when you consider becoming a wildlife photographer.

ground skink Scincella lateralis for scaleI've included another photo to show scale – these little guys are tiny and quite delicate. I removed them from the terrarium by coaxing them onto a business card and then into a carrying box, where they were released back where I found the eggs originally. I had shot some slides at a lower level to see more of their features, but this had to be done through the terrarium glass, and this introduced so much distortion at high magnifications that the slides are about useless. Maybe next time.