Readers’ wildlife photos

September 8, 2014 • 4:18 am

Note to readers: Many people send photos without telling me how they’d like to be credited. From now on, I will use your entire name unless told otherwise, only because I think people should get full credit for their work. So, when submitting pictures, tell me which name you’d like me to use. And don’t forget to include the Latin binomial of the plant or animal so that I don’ t have to look it up, as well as the location and, if you wish, circumstances and photo equipment used. Oh, and if you want to put in a brief note about the organism’s biology, I wouldn’t say no. But that’s not essential.

Heres’a British bird from Mal Morrison. Look at that lovely tail!

A picture of A Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica). They are quite common in the UK but I like this one because it shows the iridescence of the long tail, which is only evident in the right light.

There’s quite a lot of folklore attached to Magpies and seeing a solitary bird is supposed to be bad luck whereas seeing a pair will ‘bring you joy’. It’s also long been accepted that Magpies are attracted to bright and sparkling objects, like jewellery, and will take these and secrete them in their nests. The latter has been challenged recently by a study done by Exeter University.

The bird pictured here was one of a pair which were savaging in a back yard. It was about to perch on the wooden fence and eat whatever it has in its beak.


Some birds from reader Ed Kroc in Vancouver:

The smallest resident peep, the Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla). This individual was alone in Stanley Park, feeding alongside the lagoon. They may be the most diminutive of the local sandpipers, but least sandpipers are also the boldest. They are alone as often as they flock with other pipers, and are not easily intimidated by humans, walking right in front of your feet to feed if you stand still enough (well, they usually keep about half a metre of distance). This shot shows just how small these guys are: that’s a typical-sized crow feather he/she is stepping around. This particular piper seemed smaller than average even – I would estimate nomore than 10 cm from tip to tail.

Least Sandpiper at work

A different gull for your consideration: the medium-sized Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis). These gulls are migratory, but you can usually find some around the area if you look hard enough (these two were taking a rest in Stanley Park). Juveniles tend to hang around one area more than adults do. This is one of the few North American gull species that is common across the continent, south of the Arctic Circle, even far away from water. The first photo is a portrait of a one-year-old ring-billed gull. The plumage is speckled and soft.

Ring-billed Gull first full summer

The second photo shows an adult in breeding colours. The iris always stays yellow in adults, but the eye ring is only bright red during the breeding season.

Ring-billed Gull adult in breeding colours

The Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) is a regular resident of  the Vancouver area. In the first photo, a juvenile basks in the late day  sun, panting from the heat.

Pelagic Cormorant juvenile perched

A nearby adult is pictured in the next photo,  with wing outstretched and beak agape, as if he/she was lecturing on  something essential. I like how the light in these photos captures the  different plumages of the juvenile and the adult. The colour of the water in the backgrounds has not been artificially altered: there was a massive red algae bloom on the Burrard Inlet during one of our heat waves this  summer. It filled the inlet with so much red that the city was constantly  fielding calls from concerned residents and tourists thinking an oil spill  had occurred, or that a whale had been killed and was bleeding out  somewhere. But nope, just algae.

Pelagic Cormorant lecturing



19 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

      1. se·crete 2 (s-krt)
        tr.v. se·cret·ed, se·cret·ing, se·cret·es
        1. To conceal in a hiding place; cache. See Synonyms at hide1.
        2. To steal secretly; filch.

        thanks otherwise 🙂

  1. I guess “everyone” knows the rhyme about magpies:

    One for sorrow
    Two for joy
    Three for a girl
    Four for a boy
    Five for a silver
    Six for a gold
    Seven for a secret never to be told

    In the Sixties and Seventies there was a children’s show called Magpie on ITV (created by Thames) which extend this:

    Eight’s a wish
    And nine’s a kiss
    Ten is a bird you must not miss


    1. Much like “counting crows”:

      One for sorrow,two for mirth,
      three a wedding, four a birth,
      five is heaven, six is hell,
      and seven you’ve seen the devil himself.

      1. Yeah, I feel bad for crows because people tend to see them as evil if they are superstitious. My grandmother was in horror if she only saw one crow & would hurriedly search for another.

        1. Two? Certainly three.

          When I was at university, the tree outside my college room became a perch for about twenty magpies (the most I’ve seen at one time, I think). Then a crow arrived to see what all the fuss was about…


  2. Incidentally that was some website work by Prof Ceiling Cat. That photo was taken at 1027 BST this morning and posted at about noon. Almost live!

  3. The last photo of the Pelagic Cormorant looks like he is a waiter seating people, “right this way, ma’am”> 😀

  4. I would just like to thank Dr. Coyne for posting all the beautiful wildlife photos, and a very special thank you to all of the photographers. Finances did not allow me to take a vacation this year, but viewing these photographs (some of them many times) has brought me so much pleasure. I almost feel at times that I am standing out in the Idaho wilderness or in Diana’s yard watching the chipmunks and other creatures. 🙂 My thanks to all of you – perhaps a WEINT 2015 calendar could be created with some of these amazing photographs and sold for charity or to contribute to Dr. Coyne’s squirrel food reserves!

      1. Yikes! Maybe I should be banned from this website until I can at least get the site’s acronym correct. My apologies to all.

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