Readers’ wildlife photographs

June 4, 2015 • 7:45 am

As I wing my way to Vancouver, enjoy these photographs. The first set comes from Stephen Barnard in Idaho:

This is a juvenile Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus). For about an hour I watched three of them and at least one adult (a male) raiding Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) nests in the potentilla (Potentilla) across the creek. It looked for all the world like the male was teaching them to hunt. Yesterday I saw a pair of harriers hand off a captured blackbird chick in flight. The blackbirds are very active and effective at defending against the harriers and it’s fun to watch their dogfights. They attack in gangs, at some risk. There’s probably kinship reciprocity going on. Even blackbirds have ethics. There are lots of  blackbirds because I feed them copiously.



Reader Mark Sturtevant, a lep-lover, sent a lovely swallowtail:

I have some new pictures of local insects that might be worthy of the WEIT web site. This entry is of a black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), which had recently emerged from its chrysalis. It is the same individual that was seen last summer in WEIT.  I kept its chrysalis, along with other lep pupae, hidden in our refrigerator during the winter. More pictures of the other critters can come later.


The 2nd and 3rd pictures were taken with a method that might be of some interest to the readers. I used a Canon T5i body with a basic 50mm prime lens plus an extension tube. I am relying on this inexpensive way to take close up pictures this season.


I think the butterfly is saying ‘Oh Hai!’ in the 3rd picture:



17 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

    1. I will have to try that. There are a lot of inexpensive but very good Canon lenses out there with the old Fd mount that can be put onto the new cameras with a simple adapter.

  1. Really nice pictures. If you got much closer to the butterfly you’d be required to take it out to dinner.

  2. That’s a great shot of the red-winged blackbird. Have you considered submitting any of your photographs to The Mitch Waite Group’s iBird app? I don’t know what’s involved but your photographs are superb and I’m sure would be appreciated by birders everywhere.

  3. Ahh, Potentilla

    My botany professor @ W&M, JT Baldwin, was an English major as an undergrad, and he particularly loved species whose names rolled off the tongue. He was an authority on boxwood and had largely landscaped the old campus. By the time I was there he was somewhat superannuated, but his course, Plant Taxonomy, was attractive to a number of us.

    He freely admitted in the first session that the course was, “more like Plant Appreciation.” Every session was a field trip into the countryside, whether into woods or fields, or the cultivated back yards of friends houses or estates. We were not allowed to take notes, and he meant it. “Dammit! Don’t write it down, just remember it!”

    Whenever I encounter Tulip poplar, honeysuckle or buttercup, among others, Liriodendron tulipifera, Lonicera japonica, and Ranunculus come to mind. Potentilla was another one that he liked.

    1. “Every session was a field trip into the countryside, whether into woods or fields, or the cultivated back yards of friends houses or estates”

      What better way to learn botany! Sounds like he was a wonderful teacher!

  4. I’ve found that small point-and-shoot cameras can take surprisingly good macros. Many (maybe all) of them have macro modes that allow very close focussing. Importantly, their small sensors give good depth of field.(The reason is technical and a little hard to follow, so I won’t go into it.) I carry a waterproof Panasonic DMC-TS2 when I’m fishing and sometimes use it to take photos of insects. This camera fits in a shirt pocket and has a tiny sensor. Here’s an example:

    By the way, when I was on Flickr I noticed that some people from WEIT left me messages. I very rarely use Flickr, mostly when I need a link to a photo. I’m not ignoring you — I just didn’t see the messages.

    1. That is one pretty little mayfly, and you can see that this one has a weird double set of compound eyes.

    2. My little Nikon (Coolpix S100) point and shoot did indeed take surprisingly good macro photos. Until it got dropped in a salt water lagoon. Good lighting was the key. In bright day light, very good macro photos. Anything less, not so good.

    3. Wonderful mayfly shot, Stephen!

      Yes, I find that my Lumix LX-5 takes terrific macro shots. I can nearly touch the lens before the focus fails(!!).

  5. That is a stunning photo of the harrier. My favorite wildlife photos are of the raptors and this one is one of the best. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I agree about the harrier photo. One of the best yet from Stephen. But that Red-winged Blackbird is a very good pic too.

  6. I think the harrier is telling pilots — don’t do this for long in your small plane or you won’t be up here long.

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