Readers’ wildlife photographs

May 20, 2015 • 7:15 am

Keep those pictures coming in, folks. The tank is half full, but I like a comfortable backlog. (Don’t forget to send Latin binomials!)

Reader Mal Morrison sent some photos from his constitutional:

A couple of pictures from my morning walk on Dartmoor (Devon). The butterfly is a Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).

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The bird is a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella).

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And. . . it’s geese and swan day! Reader Joe Dickinson sent photos of both:

Walking the wetlands around Novato, CA on Sunday one week after Mothers’ day, motherhood was abundantly on display.  Particularly striking were some Mute Swans (Cygnus olor, an introduced species from Europe) and Canada Geese (Branta canadensis).  Of course, with swans and geese it’s hard to tell moms from dads since both parents stick around and there is little if any sexual dimorphism, as can be seen in the second photo of each pair.

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And we have swans from across the Pond, courtesy of reader Chris Griffiths:

I’m currently taking a break from work to write a novel (my first), and try to take a walk every day to get out the house, ensure I get some exercise and fresh air, and for thinking time.

There are several different routes I take around my home town of Lewes in the country of East Sussex, but I’ve been spending more time on one particular walk that takes me upstream of the river Ouse, as I spotted a large swan nest a few weeks ago with one of the adults (maybe the same one, not sure if they share duties) always on the nest. A Google search suggested the young ‘uns were born between May and July, so I’ve been keen to check if they’d appeared yet. I’ve to take my little compact Panasonic with me just in case (8x optical zoom only, 16 mega pixels).

I’ve not been down that way for a week, but today as I approached from the other side of the river, I noticed both adults preening themselves by the side of the nest, then noticed a little bundle of grey fluff move next to them in the grass. Then another, two cygnets as showing in photo No. 1.

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Walked down the river another mile or so, then as I was coming back noticed a swan flying towards me, in the same place that I’d seen one being chased away couple of weeks ago, managed to get my camera out in time and captured photos 2 and 3.

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Then a hundred yards down the river, I saw a swan in the water (photo 4) which I assume had been the one that chased the other away – wondered if it was one of the parents of the young uns at the nest. But no – once I got back to the nest, both adults were in the water. I thought the cygnets may be on their backs, but they were in the water too … and there are three of them (photo number 5).  I took tons more on full zoom, these are the best I captured, unfortunately. I sat and watched them for some time: really beautiful to see.

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The river:

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17 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. Very nice!

    Mute swans will not tolerate intruders, a& are very territorial.

    RE the yellowhammer – ‘a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese’ is how its call is said to sound.

    I have not seen one for years. So many seed eating birds have been lost to the agricultural wastelands of south-east England by intensive industrial farming, with hedges diminshed & no field margins or weeds, that such birds find few opportunities.

    1. Oh my, yes, Swans can be very aggressive. And persistant. Geese also, though Swans seem to be more so in my experience.

      A tennis racket is a good defense.

    2. I’ve never thought that description of the yellowhammer’s call very easy to make out. I always recognise them from their very low-pitched calling. In comparison with a lot of similar-sized birds they almost buzz rather than chirp.

      Here in NZ I often see flocks of a couple of hundred or so around some of the rougher parts of our capital. Also interesting is that the NZ birds are a lot yellower than the European ones, without so much brown on ’em. Sorry I haven’t got a photo for that, but I’ve seen drawers of specimens, and the difference is quite marked.

          1. Same old ‘Brits want to see their homeland birds wherever they go’ thing, eh? The sun never sets on the House Sparrow.

            On a tangent–do you know of any live New Zealand bird cams?

    1. The Phoenix Causeway bridge is just out of view up to the right, managed to keep it out of view. Pretty sure you can’t cross the Ouse at low tide anywhere near Lewes, and I often walk down the river to Southease and back, about 9 mile round trip, never seen the river that low.
      I had the joy of seeing a harbour seal on that walk last year, noticed a swan flapping away in the water, seems the seal was bothering it from below, suddenly popped its cheeky face up! An elderly couple walked by, said it had been there some time feeding on the eels, apparently would go back to Newhaven harbour when it reaches maturity and ready to breed.

  2. Very enjoyable. Around here (Michigan) the abundant Canadian geese chicks are still little yellow puffballs. Of course that should make sense since yours would get an earlier start on brooding in CA.

  3. Excellent picture. Probably not so many predators in Sussex as we have here in the midwest. The Canadians do raise some young ones but it is difficult.

  4. Swans are great birds, and you don’t mess with them, a swan running towards you, wings spread and hissing will make you run!
    Also, in Hamburg it’s forbidden to insult, offend and mess with swans! The city even pays for a guy to care for them in winter. Swans were considered noble birds, and only noblemen were allowed to keep/hunt them, so a free city like Hamburg kept them too. An old myth says that Hamburg will prosper as long as swans live in town.

  5. How funny–in Europe the yellowhammer is a bunting, in the US it’s a woodpecker, the Yellow-shafted variety of the Northern Flicker! Beautiful bunting and butterfly, Mal!

    Joe–cygnets & goslings! Thanks for the squee of the day!

    Chris–yet more cygnets! And that last riverscape is outstanding!

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