Readers’ wildlife photos

October 6, 2015 • 7:15 am

Today we have a grab-bag of diverse photos from several readers, some sans wildlife. The first is from Brandon Cooper, who collaborates with my ex-student Daniel Matute collecting Drosophila flies in Africa:

I recently returned from Zambia, Malawi, and Namibia where Matute and I collected a nice transect of melanogaster and simulans. While collecting in the South Luangwa area of Zambia, I took these two pictures that I think you will enjoy. Needless to say it was a lot of fun collecting flies in areas where big cats randomly walk past. [Leopard: Panthera pardus.]



Reader Charleen Adams sent in two birds:

Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon).  This (?) female was being mobbed by crows on an otherwise serene Seattle day.  After landing next to this pillar at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, she shut her eyes for about a minute.  I kept the crows away until she came to.  In a burst, which relieved me tremendously, she flew off.


Here is a California condor (Gymnogyps californianus): 


From Stephen Barnard, a bird butt.

I had a little too much lens for this Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis):

Oct. 3

And some stellar stunners from reader Tim Anderson in Oz:

I have attached two star photos taken last weekend.
The first shows the Small Magellanic Cloud and the Large Magellanic Cloud. These are two irregular galaxies visible to the naked eye in the southern hemisphere close to the South Celestial Pole.
These objects are among the closest galaxies to the Milky Way and are both areas of vigorous new star formation. The prominent star at the top of the picture is Beta Hydri, which appears to be similar to the sun, though much later in its evolution, being a red giant.


The second picture shows gas and dust clouds in part of the Milky Way visible at this time of year in Australia.
Each picture was compiled from a set of about thirty 8-second photographs taken with a 15mm focal length lens on a Canon 70D camera. The details of the LMC and SMC is borrowed from the commentary in the Sky Safari program (whic I recommend for stargazers).




18 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. That king fisher sure is cute!

    Tim, what did you use for a mount to trac? I still need to put the piggy back mount on my telescope.

  2. Really cool.
    I think the 1st leopard picture shows it marking its territory. A scratch here (which I think leaves scent markings), and a facial rub there (which also leaves a scent marking).

    I wonder why crows would mob a kingfisher. Maybe the kingfisher is not above stealing eggs or young chicks?

    1. Crows will mob whatever they see as a threat: people included.
      About a year ago, I heard a flock of crows making a lot of noise outside, and they had forced a hawk to land on my back lawn – it was unhurt, just grounded from being buzzed by a dozen or more crows. It flew away; but was back on the lawn a minute or two later, forced down by the same crows. After a few more minutes, the crows left, and so did the hawk.

  3. The second leopard is a really nice composition and the leopard’s spots do seem to blend well with the background.

    I’m glad the kingfisher got away…durn crows!

    Those are some terrific sky shots. I enjoy seeing the southern hemisphere star photos. I’ve never seen it in person.

  4. @Brandon: purrty kitty kitty!

    @Stephen: Oh man, I love the bird butt. Beautiful. I could stare all day at it. Maybe I should make it my screen saver 🙂

    @Tim: the gas and dust clouds in the Australian view of the Milky way is soothing.

    @Merliee: Seeing condors close up changed how I see other vultures. I used to have a preference for eagles and birds whose feathers made their heads look more proportional to their bodies, but I’ve been perceptually disabused of this. I feel like a bird mommy; of course, their faces are lovable 🙂 Mommy roost.

    @Mark: Ya, I too wondered whether the kingfisher had acted offensively, but we are right by water, where there should be plenty of appetizing fish. But who knows. So, I don’t have an answer to the mystery mobbing, but I did find this on Cornell’s All About Birds site: “Belted Kingfishers live mostly on a diet of fish including sticklebacks, mummichogs, trout, and stonerollers. They also eat crayfish and may eat other crustaceans, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, young birds, small mammals, and even berries. A kingfisher looks for prey from a perch that overhangs water, such as a bare branch, telephone wire, or pier piling. When it spots a fish or crayfish near the surface, it takes flight, dives with closed eyes, and grabs the prey in its bill with a pincer motion. Returning with its prize, it pounds the prey against the perch before swallowing it head first. It may also hover above the water instead of searching from a perch. As nestlings, Belted Kingfishers digest the bones and scales they consume, but by the time they leave the nest they begin disgorging pellets of fish skeletons and invertebrate shells.”

    1. A parenthetical urgh: I don’t catch typos until after I view what I’ve written from the perspective of others, even if I’ve proofread. So, a perilous feature of posting on this site is seeing errors just after they post. Re what I wrote to Tim, I meant: the gas and dust clouds are (not is) soothing. So, commenting on this website is making me a better writer, in addition to teaching me tons about the world. Namely, I don’t imagine that I would have otherwise encountered Milky Way gas and dust clouds without WEIT, as, of my own accord, my natural range of interests is narrower than it should be.

Leave a Reply