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.
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.
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.
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.
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.