Readers’ wildlife photos

July 30, 2019 • 7:45 am

We have a first-time poster today, Rob Knell, an evolutionary ecologist from Queen Mary University of London. His research page is here, and his “favourite animal photos” page is here.  Today we have some of his favourites. His captions are indented:

I’m fortunate enough to have taught field courses in both Borneo and South Africa and so I have had a lot of opportunities to see and photograph some really amazing wildlife. Anyway, these are some of my personal favourites.

Male chacma baboon, Papio ursinus, photographed in the Kruger National park, South Africa. Shortly after I took this one of this animal’s accomplices jumped through our window and stole our biscuits.

Hummingbird hawk moth, Macroglossum stellatarum, feeding on buddleia, photographed near Toulouse, France.

Juvenile boomslang, Dispholidus typus. Found in a tree about 20m from our accommodation at a field station in Limpopo province, South Africa. [JAC: these are highly venomous snakes; a juvenile killed one of our Field Museum colleagues, Karl P. Schmidt, in 1957. See the Science Friday video here, which recounts his “death diary”, as he wrote down his symptoms without seeking medical help. A scientist to the end.] [GCM: And, look at our account of Schmidt’s death here at WEIT, and its apparent inspiration for the film The Killer Shrews.]

Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotos. Doing the vulture thing in the Kruger Park.

Lappet-faced vulture 2: soaring over the Olifants river, Kruger National Park. That wingspan is probably between 2.5 and 3m.

Nyala male, Tragelaphus angasii, Kruger Park. Nyala are glorious animals.

Oriental Magpie-Robin, Copsychus saularis, photographed at Danum Valley field station, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Common as anything but still lovely birds.

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis): the largest animal that can do a powered hover, I am told. Olifants River, Kruger National Park.

Ruddy darter, Sympetrum sanguineum, female. Photographed at Wisley Botanical Gardens, UK.

Weevil: species unknown but just look at that rostrum. Danum Valley, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

30 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. It’s also got a marble for an eye. Yes, it’s cute.

      I’ve never actually seen a snake in real life outside of a zoo. They’re rare in Britain.

      Apparently the local golf course, which is full of the most obnoxious people in the area, is teeming with snakes, which lifted my spirits for a while, until I found out the snakes aren’t dangerous.

      1. Grass snakes and Adders are both quite common in the UK in the right habitats but they tend to be quite secretive and hide when they hear us coming.
        Adders are venomous and I believe it is pretty unpleasant being bitten by one but not usually dangerous for healthy adults. Several years ago in Northumberland a postman got bitten by one that had taken up residence in a post box that was set into a stone wall and which too exception when stuck his hand in to grab the mail. The NHS reports about 100 adder bites per year across the country and 14 deaths have been recorded since 1876.

        1. Yes, I should have said ‘rarely seen’, cos they’re quite shy and secretive. Grass snakes seem quite agreeable to me.

          I know someone who almost lost a leg after an adder bite, but it was mainly because they left the bite untreated and it went jet-black.

          1. Ai! Like the man in the boomslang ‘death diary’. Definitely unwise to fail to get an adder bite – or any other snake bite treated by medical professionals.

      2. That’s bad luck. I was weeding round our pond a couple of months ago and saw a young grass snake swimming in it (at least I assume it was young: it was only about 15in long). And three weeks ago I saw (separately) a couple of adders sunning themselves in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.

  1. A wonderful variety and great photography. The Nyala is striking, and I especially like the composition of this picture. They resemble Kudus, and so I looked them up to find that they are in the same genus.

  2. Delightful shots. My favorite, favorite is Hummingbird hawk moth. I wonder if they’re adapted to look like a hummingbird for defense or it’s just a coincidence.

  3. Thanks for sharing these exceptional photos! Your comments are most interesting, helpful, and fun. The vulture photo, especially, is stunning!

  4. Rob is also a fabulous and multi-talented scientist; his work on sexually-transmitted infections in ladybird beetles is fascinating (yes, really!) and he also has a wonderful paper on the evolutionary reason for syphilis becoming less virulent over the last couple of centuries. Check out his research page!

    1. I did a bit of reading into ladybird beetles, or ladybugs as we call them in my part of the world, and I am absolutely SHOCKED to learn of their sexual promiscuity (and cannibilistic habits). I think that the Westboro Baptist Church should visit a congregation of ladybugs and harangue them. Don’t they know that STDs are a result of the wrath of God punishing them for their promiscuity?

      As for Mr. Knell’s paper on syphilis, I hope that he invoked the spirit of Fracastorius and wrote it in verse.

  5. Boomslang bites are relatively rare, which is fortunate because the creatures are all over the place. When I was a child we had one which hung around in the creeper and flower beds in our garden. It slithered under my chair on a few occasions while I was reading on the veranda. Whenever the stream running through the garden overflowed onto the surrounding bush there would be refugee boomslangs everywhere around the garden. There is an effective antivenom, but it is not always immediately available locally. It is assumed that death will only occur 24 to 48 hours after envenomation, but there is a strong suspicion that a big dose of venom could act far quicker.

    The snakes we really do have to worry about here are puff adders and cape cobras. Puff adders are very common, well camouflaged, lightning fast strikers and will tend to stay put when approached. They are like land mines. Cape cobras are less often seen around the cities, but if they tag you in the wrong place you can be beyond help in 20 minutes.

  6. That isn’t Buddleia that the Hawkmoth is feeding on, it is Verbena bonariensis. It is my favourite insect but rare where I live. I hope to get a photograph of it as good as that one day!

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