Readers’ wildlife photos

January 15, 2015 • 7:43 am

Stephen Barnard, endemic to Idaho, is now fishing in New Zealand, and he sent me this photo of a New Zealand brown trout (Salmo trutta) with the caption,

Is this wildlife? Your call.

I deemed it wildlife and asked if he released it or ate it. His response was that he releases every fish he catches. This one’s gorgeous, and lived to fight again:

Barnard brown trout

Reader Dennis Hansen, a biologist who was lucky enough to work on the Indian Ocean atoll of Aldabra, sends some photos and information:

I’ve dug into the Aldabra archives and found some more photos for you –  see attached:  The first two shots are of the (arguably) most beautiful frugivore of the atoll, at least from a colourful-is-best perspective, the Comoro Blue PigeonAlectroenas sganzini minor. (Nah, what am I really saying is that the most gorgeous frugivore of the atoll is of course the giant tortoise!). The genus used to be more widespread across Western Indian Ocean islands, but went extinct in many cases after human arrival. Despite what looks like a small beak, they can really open wide and swallow quite large fruits whole. Being specialised frugivores, after mastication they regurgitate large seeds and hard bits, rather than wasting weight and time in flying around with all that dead weight in their guts.

blue pigeon1

blue pigeon2

Then a few shots of a frigatebird – a juvenile/female great frigatebird (Fregata minor, go figure), I think it’s that species, but am not 100% sure. This one enjoyed an afternoon shower on the island of Malabar, Aldabra. It spent 8-10 mins fluffing and spreading itself as much as possible in the rain, before the sun returned and dried the bird.

frigate drying

frigate drying2

frigate showering1

frigate showering2

frigate showering3

Finally, obviously, a shot of an Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). This one, Toby, is my favourite, as he’s always up for a friendly cuddle—only not when he’s in the mood to headbutt or bite you instead. How do you tell the two apart? You don’t.


Dennis has contributed photos of Indian Ocean wildlife several times before; you can find his posts here.

43 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Wonderful photos.

    ‘Is this wildlife’? That must be referring to the fact that this species was introduced to New Zealand.

    1. Indeed, trout are a plague in many parts of the world, introduced even into remote South American wildernesses, where they eat the native fish and frogs and salamanders. I encourage everyone to kill and eat as many trout as they can where they are not native. They are aquatic starlings.

    1. I was thinking the fish needed captioning. Like, “Careful, don’t touch me on my ticklish spot.”

    1. There seems to be an extra joint, which must be between the manus and the primaries.

      Is there any other bird with higher ‘shoulders’ (wrists) in the resting position?

  2. Great pictures. I believe the brown trout is at the top of the fisherman’s list of great fish to catch. Also to eat.

  3. Beautiful trout, and that frigate bird is just amazing looking. The beak shape is interesting. I appreciate birds so much more now that I know they are the closest thing we have to dinosaurs 🙂

  4. I’m trying to figure out if there’s any particular evolutionary advantage to the pigeon’s eye. It’s quite striking. The rest of the plumage would seem to be the sort of thing that would tend to make it cryptic…but that eye kinda gives the game away. Maybe it’s a peacock’s tail? The bird that can wave the red bullfighter’s eye and survive the hawk attack gets extra attention from the ladies?


  5. Stephen, that shot is something that belongs in some Outdoors magazine. 🙂

    And Lou, thanks for the info on introduced trout–rather obvious when one thinks about it, but I’d never thought about it. Even where the species might be native, it’s always seemed odd to me to deliberately introduce them (unless we’re talking about trying to save an endangered species).

    OTOH it is true that hunters & anglers have frequently pioneered habitat conservation efforts…

  6. Dennis, what fascinating shots–and great write-up!

    Both pigeon shots are striking! Such a gorgeous bird, all the more appreciated for the life-style details you provide.

    What a cool frigatebird series. I can spend a long time in the shower, too, but with fewer contortions…Srsly, it’s great to try to figure out what’s what (anatomy wise) in some of those shots. 😀

    1. I think the frigate bird might have been attempting some yoga moves in the last photo:-)

      I love watching anhingas ( in Florida) dry out their wings.

      1. Ha, ha!

        Yes, the classic Anhinga pose…Saw one in Texas last January. It’s less widely known that other birds sometimes do the same thing; I’ve a couple of pictures of our wide-spread Double-crested Cormorants in the same drying position. 🙂

        1. Yes, I’ve seen cormorants do it up here.
          Have you ever heard an anhinga vocalize? I was up close to one along a boardwalk in a sanctuary in Florida and it made the funniest sound. Can’t remember exactly how it sounded, but remember I could see way down its long throat while it was doing it.

          1. But my guy had his mouth WIDE open. Couldn’t help but laugh. I was maybe 3 feet away and he was perched on a branch at my eye level. Love to see them dive and come back up way far away (like loons, but with longer necks). You probably know that anhinga means snake bird in some Native Indian (I think) language.

          2. I did know that that’s another (but not “official”) common name for them. Also–you already know their scientific name–Anhinga anhinga.

          3. Didn’t know about the anhinga anhinga bit (or maybe forgot). Are there anhinga anything elses?

          4. They are in the family Anhingidae, which consists of 4 species, all in the genus Anhinga. In addition to Anhinga anhinga,there’s A. novaehollandae, the Australian Darter; A. rufa, the African Darter; and A. melanogaster, the Oriental Darter.

            (And yes, I did have to look most of that up. 😉 )

  7. Jerry, may I post the pigeon picture on Twitter? I know you hate Twitter, but I figure you’re just using it wrong. 😉 If you only follow people who take bird photographs or a parody account it’s a whole different thing. So may I post the pigeon picture? 🐦 If so who do I credit it to? Thanks.

    1. Psst, read the post. 🙂

      You will probably have to ask Jerry to put you two in touch with each other, though; and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dennis would not want to let that one out of his hands!

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