Readers’ wildlife photographs

September 23, 2015 • 6:00 am

I have brought my photo file with me, and a few others arrived when I was in transit. Let me put those up first. One set was by regular contributor Stephen Barnard, who sent moose photos (Alces alces):

This cow and what must be a yearling calf (healthy by the looks of it) were browsing across the creek all morning. They’re on to Deets [the border collie] and know he won’t go in the water, and they regard me and the camera more with curiosity than alarm.



Stephen also sent a link to this video, which he said is being widely circulated among birders. It shows a common loon (Gavia immer) pooping into the mouth of a biologist trying to band it:

Diana MacPherson, who prowls the woods near her workplace, found a beetle whose identity first eluded her, but then, with the help of her dad, was clarified:

Ahhh my dad found out what it is. A short-winged blue blister beetle [Meloe angusticollis]. They emit a caustic substance when squished/threatened & it can cause blisters. Serves you right for harming it!!


Reader James Billie sent a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and a bee (species unidentified):


And reader Marilee reminds us not to neglect our photosynthesizing friends, even when they get sustenance by killing animals:

Plants are wild living organisms too. Here is Drosera rotundifolia  [the round-leafed sundew] in northern Maine, having trapped its next meal. Darwin wrote extensively about this species in his book on insectivorous plants.

Drosera rotundifolia 20130620 T3R10 Windy Pitch Pond ml 255

52 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

    1. I bet there has been a new step added to the procedural check list for Loon tagging.

      My son taught my wife and I a similar lesson one day when we were visiting him in the NICU. Not only can infants pee 10 meters, they can shit about 12 meters.

      1. I think that it is an adaptation to ‘clear’ the nest to keep it cleaner/not leave clues nearby for predators.
        In evolution, an adaptation that is found to also be useful for another thing is called an ‘exaptation’. So here we learn that projectile pooping is an exaptation against the familiarities of field biologists!

  1. Yesterday, I had my first sighting of a beautiful monarch in my garden. (A month ago, I spotted one at the garden centre.) It was checking out the black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia) and the butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii). The milkweeds have long flowered so that cupboard was bare, but I’ll have to keep checking them for caterpillars.

    I’ve seen lots of sulphurs and moths but not one swallowtail butterfly! What a dismal summer, aside from the flowers and a lush garden.

    1. This year, the Monarchs seem to have made a comeback after several really bad years in Minnesota. We are seeing many more this summer.

      Where I took that photo, there were many of them (dozens?) feasting on the goldenrod ( Asteraceae spp.), which was profuse, along with the purple asters, though they strongly favored the goldenrod.

      1. Goldenrod = Solidago sp., Aster = Aster sp.

        Unless they’ve changed since I was in school. The aster genus is easy to remember. 😀 (So they probably have changed it!)

        Also, family names — Asteraceae — are not italicized.

        (Unless they’ve changed…etc.)

  2. The bee is the common honeybee. There are different varieties/subspecies, which in beekeeper parlance are traditionally called ‘races’. This dark variety is I think the Caucasian honeybee, so-named as it originates from the Caucasus.

    1. Because that would be too funny. It might offend the moose and you really don’t want to offend a moose! Let alone several of them.

  3. Nice assortment today. Thanks all!

    Regarding the moose, how long do calves stay with their mothers? I never really thought about that before, but I assumed moose give birth once a year, but if they have their calves that long then obviously they don’t give birth once a year. hmmm.

    I like the insects and sundews are one of my favorite plants. I love all the carnivorous flora, though I’ve had a hard time keeping them alive. It’s new to me that they were native to northern Maine, I always think of them as a tropical plant…go figure.

    1. Judging from what I’ve seen, I’d say the calves stay with their moms for two years, but I don’t really know for sure. When they get near to adult size the bulls try to drive them away, probably to bring the cows into estrus.

      1. Diane, I haven’t actually had any for a few years. When I did have them, I never tried distilled water. Perhaps I’ll take the small effort to buy another venus fly trap and administer distilled water. Thanks for the tip…I was using city water. chlorine?

            1. Interesting idea but I’ve never heard of it.

              Of course, one doesn’t use regular potting soil, either. IIRC we used straight peat moss, though a quick Googling reveals several recommendations of peat mixed with sand, and/or other ingredients. And whatever substrate one chooses can’t be one of the fertilizer-enriched ones!

              Reminds me that keepers of tropical fish that hail from acidic environs try to keep some tannins in their water. I suppose if one starts with a soft-enough water source to begin with, it could be improved by soaking tree bark in it first, then used for the carnivorous plants…

              (Warning–don’t visit the CP websites or you might soon find yourself ordering quite a few! 😀 )

  4. the exchange after the literal “poop-eating grin” made me snicker:

    biologist#1: “wow — that’s the first time that’s happened …”

    biologist#2: “really?”

    sounds like #2’s been there, done that …

  5. Sweet beetle, Diana! And from Wikipedia we learn that the toxic substance is cantharidin, and that “[c]antharidin is the principal irritant in “Spanish fly”,”

    If only you’d known…

    1. What is really cool is if you bother these beetles they ooze that stuff from everywhere. Imagine if humans could do that. I’d be drenched from head to toe regularly just driving in to work.

  6. Marilee, what a cool shot! I love carnivorous plants! No one’s mentioned yet that it seems to have caught a couple of damselflies (?). At first I thought they’d been mating, then noticed they’re not lined up the right way for that.

    And I’m all for having plants in our “Wildlife” category. 😀

    1. Actually, there were several damselflies, maybe 12 or so, caught all together. Maybe an orgy gone bad. They were definitely caught by the Drosera, still alive. Kind of gruesome.

        1. Thanks for the added info! I lol’d at “orgy gone bad.” 😀 Your second post made me wonder if there had perhaps been a synchronous emergence of the damselflies.

          Hmm, when you think about it, pretty much all the ways to die by carnivorous plants sound rather slow & gruesome!

  7. Stephen, I love the way Deets is aiming to appear totally nonchalant about the meese. Is the river that narrow, or artificially narrowed via telephoto lens?

      1. You know, I did, and I wasn’t sure I’d have known from them–they look pretty close together to me. So with a telephoto exposure would they sort of blend together?

            1. I would call it big. It’s very shallow and slow moving, which makes the fish spooky and the angling challenging.

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