Readers’ wildlife photos

October 1, 2019 • 7:45 am

Today we have some lovely photos from Florida taken by David Campbell, whose notes are indented. And kudos to David for fighting for evolution in the South!

A few for the hopper from a long time reader in northeast Florida.  I am twice retired, once from the Navy and once from teaching high school biology where I not only taught evolution but was part of the group that wrote the first Florida Science standards that contained the actual word.  Photography is a long time avocation.
American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)  An eleven-foot adult basking on a cool day at Payne’s Prairie Preserve near Gainesville, Florida.  A sign at the entrance to the trail where this photo was taken reminds people that the prairie isn’t a theme park and that the animals are real and wild and potentially dangerous.  A few minutes after taking this photo (using a nice, looooonnnnnggg telephoto lens) I watched a male teen walk up to the same alligator and stop only eight feet in front of its nose.  He then turned his back to it, knelt  down, and took a selfie.

Florida Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti). This neonate was found in Duval County, Florida.  Immature cottonmouths look like their close relatives, copperheads, but darken with age.  Young Agkistrodon have yellow tails that can be used as lures to entice prey within striking range.  Some authorities consider this a distinct species, Agkistrodon conanti.

Duckweed Firetail (Telebasis byersi). Adult male photographed in southern Duval County, Florida.

Canopy Jumping Spider (Phidippus otiosus).  Photographed at Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville, Florida.  This Phidippus is seen less often than some of the others in my area because it lives higher up in the trees.  I was fortunate to find this one on a blue ginger at a plant sale.

Caracara (Caracara cheriway).   A long-legged falcon with a localized distribution in Florida, this bird was spotted feeding on carrion near Myakka State Park.
Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) seedling photographed in Clay County, Florida.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) found crawling through our horse pasture in broad daylight.  Impressive and beautiful, this is the largest venomous snake in North America.  Temperaments vary from skittish, high strung, and aggressive (this snake) to very calm and docile.

12 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. LOVE, LOVE the Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti
    pix, Mr Campbell ! What a gorgeous critter.
    Just exactly “how far away,” distance – wise,
    from said serpent were you … … when the
    picture was snapped ? !

    And I echo Dr Coyne’s sentiment, too, in re
    your teaching ! Especially … … there !
    Thank YOU !


    1. Working distance was 2 to 2.5 feet using a 200 mm lens. I was well outside of strike range and this snake’s body language said it wasn’t going to strike. The snake was not aggressive and it had a clear escape route away from me if it wanted to use it. My wife was standing next to me with a snake hook in case the snake started to move in my direction.

      Cottonmouths have an undeserved reputation for aggressive behavior. They threaten when challenged but almost always back away from the human.

  2. Amazing photography. Spent several years of my childhood in north central Florida. Camped with my Dad & siblings in those same areas. It is GOOD that you are teaching children the basics of evolution instead of the hysterical tenets of the bible thumpers.

  3. I always love it when reptiles are featured in the Wildlife Photos. These were spectacular. And the longleaf pine seedling was aesthetically pleasing…zen. Thanks for the submission.

  4. Wonderful photos and enjoyed comments. The alligator, snake and spider photos are startling to me. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I wonder about the distinct variability on diamondback personality. Aggressiveness and docility. You’d think they would all behave more or less the same, driven by adaptation to much the same environment. I read that garter snakes vary a lot too, with some responding to approach by showing aggression and others retreating. Now I’m asking myself, could this be a snaky thing or a reptile thing?

    1. That’s a good observation. I’ve never seen a docile lizard in the wild…chameleon…I’m only familiar with west-coast lizards? But I have noticed some garter snakes don’t freak out when approached, and some scram.

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