Readers’ wildlife photos

May 29, 2019 • 7:45 am

We’re back to readers’ wildlife snaps, and, appropriately, we begin with photos from Stephen Barnard in Idaho, whose notes are indented:

Some photos of swallows in flight, feeding on tiny midges (Chironomidae) over Loving Creek.

I’ll note that the light was challenging — this has been the coldest, wettest spring I’ve seen here. To get a stop action photo requires a fast shutter, which in these conditions requires a high ISO, so the photos are rather noisy. It doesn’t help that midges tend to emerge on overcast days.

The first two photos are Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota). They build mud nests under a bridge just downstream.

The next three are Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). I don’t know where they nest, but I assume it’s in trees. 🙂

Other species that feed in mixed flocks are Violet-green Swallows (Tachycineta thalassina) and Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis). (Not shown.)

The next photo is of a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) changing direction and showing off its tail. Barn Swallows are quite different in behavior from the other species. They’re even faster, fewer in number, and hang out in family groups instead of large flocks. They build mud nests over my deck and cause quite a poop mess, but I tolerate them because they’re my favorite.

In the next photo the small dots in the sky are feeding swallows. (There’s something odd about this photo. It shows roughly three times as many birds than are actually there. I’ll leave the reason as a puzzle for the reader.)

Finally, a lagniappe: Silver Creek, looking north over the Bellevue Triangle toward the Big Wood River valley.


20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful swallows in flight. They seemed almost impossible to photograph back in film days…..even now it is hugely challenging.

    Maybe the photo with 3x swallows was an HDR composite?

    1. I think the main advantage here for modern camera technology is fast and effective autofocus. With it, you have to be lucky to get a sharp photo. Without it, you’d have to be extraordinarily lucky.

  2. Lovely photos as always. As for tree swallow nesting habits I would note that in my area (south central PA) they are notorious for appropriating bluebird nesting boxes.

  3. Great shots. I’m having trouble identifying my swallows. They rarely hold still. Your pics are a good guide. For sure I have cliff and I’m pretty sure I have some tree.

  4. Those photos ‘in flight’ are difficult, and even more difficult to get such a nice angle. Great work!

  5. Beautiful Swallow images and magnificent landscapes. I bow deeply in your direction, Sir.


  6. I cannot stop looking at the last landscape and its clouds. But also, thank you for that incredible swallow tail!

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