Readers’ wildlife photographs (and spot the pika!)

August 25, 2014 • 5:10 am

Several readers responded to my call for photos, and most are post-worthy. There’s a diverse phylogenetic mixture today. For example, reader Jeremy sent some photos of the adorable pika in its mountain habitat, with an extra “spot the pika” feature (answer tomorrow):

I went hiking today around the Lake Louise area in the Canadian Rockies.  I came across two of these little critters running around the rocks.  They’re called “pikas” (Ochotona princeps). I would never have spotted them if they hadn’t been making high-pitched calls to one another across the rocky terrain.

Note: pikas are more closely related to rabbits than to rodents: they’re in the order Lagomorpha. One family of that order contains the bunnies and hares (Leporidae), and the other family the pikas (Ochotonidae). And damn if these little guys aren’t cute!:

Come on, Diana: I know you can anthropomorphize this critter!

I’ve included a shot of a pika zoomed in, and another at normal zoom to show how well these little guys blend into their surroundings.  Can you spot it?

Answer later today. Try to find it!

Pika habitat

And, across the Big Pond, from reader Elise:

If you are running low on reader wildlife pictures, here are two that you may be interested in.  They are of starfish on Piha beach west of Auckland, NZ.  They are on a rock that is only exposed during low tide and there are a ton of them!  Piha beach is one of my favourite spots for tide pooling.

more starfish 2

more starfish

Butterflies from reader Jason:

Here are two piccies of a family  Nymphalidae, Aglais io or Peacock butterfly that I took at the Harewood House stately home in Yorkshire today. I’m not a butterfly head but I managed to identify this one from the web. I could see its proboscis curling up and down into the flowers, it was amazing.



Finally, reader Chris sent a frog, with a needlessly self-deprecating caption:

Obviously not as professional as some, but in case you feel a need to include an amphibian!  I believe it’s a pickerel frog (Rana palustris). [Readers?] Photo taken near Ithaca, NY with an iPhone 4S.


Frogs are lovely, and the kind of animal nobody could ever have predicted a priori would evolve. They’re an evolutionary mess: a jury-rigged amphibian.


27 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs (and spot the pika!)

  1. Great pix! I do not see the pika.

    I love starfish. How big are these?

    The lovely peacock butterfly shows an interesting feature of its family (Nymphalidae), which is that its fore-legs are essentially vestigial and pinned up against its chest. I suppose this is an adaptation for reducing weight. They are functional tetrapods among the insects.

    That does look like a pickerel frog b/c its dorsal spots are ~ rectangular. The leopard frog dorsal spots are more oval. It must have taken some good stalking to get this close up with an iPhone.

    1. Years ago I was working with a grad student doing summer field work on various Nymphalids. One week the department herpetologist, Harvey Pough, was offering a seminar entitled, “What it’s like to be a lizard.”

      Tom & I decided we’d get a much better crowd if we responded with, “What it’s like to be a Satyr and a Nymph.”

    2. Well, I have to admit that this is a cropped version of a wider scene, so it wasn’t quite as close as it looks! I figured I’d save everyone the trouble of “find the pickerel frog.” 😉

    3. The starfish are all about 6-8 inches from the end of one arm to the end of the arm directly across from it, so each arm is 3-4 inches long.

  2. My family and I have hiked on occasion out West, and the pika is still “our favorite animal that we’ve never actually seen in the wild”. We are pretty sure we’ve heard them, however.

    1. Once in Manning Park, my wife had an extended conversation with a Pika (or two). We had never heard the distinctive whistles before and she decided they might be coming from a hiker in distress. She never got any response to her shouted questions about needing help, beyond more whistles.

  3. The pika is so cute and looks pleased. The little “smile” on his face seems to say, “ahhhhhhhhhh all this is mine”.

    I love Piha but when I was there I didn’t see cool starfish like this. The black volcanic sand is nice and they filmed Xena there.

  4. R. palustris are so pretty. I love how the spot pattern is so regular (vs. leopard frogs, with random spots).

    1. Don’t you remember he’s up in the tree with the groundhog;-) And probably the elephant ( remember those old elephant jokes?)

  5. Well, I found the pika, but had to view the photograph at full size in order to do it – if you don’t look at the full-size photo you will never spot it.

    1. Well, you inspired me to take another look. 1st look I found nothing and decided pikas must be part hobbit.

      2nd look I found at least four pika, and one of them appears to be engaged in some sort of primal dance.

      But I did find the little beastie in the portrait. Once I went to 200% magnification.

  6. I’m always amazed at how hard it is to spot a pika in the wild. Usually it is only once they move that someone spots one. Once they freeze, it is very hard to get someone else to see the pika, even with lots of pointing and description of nearby landmarks.

    Pikas are my favorite lagamorphs!

  7. could someone please tell me how to submit photos to WEIT? I’ve tried responding to the emails calling for photos but without success.

    1. Find PCC’s email address either by Googling or by clicking on the Research Interests tab under “Book Links,” above.

  8. What a wonderful variety of shots!

    I love pikas, too (who doesn’t?). Such a sweet photo of this one; and it was great fun trying to find it in the zoomed out version! (Considering I finally did so–otherwise it would have been incredibly annoying.)

    Very cool the way one of the colors in that beautiful butterfly’s eye spots matches the florets it’s drinking from.

    Starfish, for my money, are one of the most alien spp we share the planet with. By comparison the Pickerel Frog looks almost warm and cuddly. 🙂

    1. I was quite disappointed to find that the red circle wasn’t around the much larger Pika I had found.

  9. Random fun thing…

    Go to ensembl’s page for the pika, and hold your mouse over the little picture of the pika in the corner..there’s cute text

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