Readers’ wildlife photos

January 29, 2020 • 7:30 am

Reader Lorraine sent some photos taken by her friend, which we have permission to post. There are ducks! Her note said, “These are photographs taken in and around Richmond, Virginia by Doug Hayes this past fall and winter.”

Doug supplied the IDs; the captions are mine:

Female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos):

Gadwall ducks (Mareca stepera):

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) hunting and nomming a frog:

Sans frog:

Pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps):

16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I’m not sure about the female Mallard. I think it is an eclipse drake with the all-yellow bill and black nail. I may be corrected!

    1. The all-yellow bill is a good observation. I missed that. I’m not sure what a black nail is but I’m not sure this is a female mallard either.

      Wonderful pictures. I especially like the third picture of the heron. The second picture of the heron with the frog is amazing. The last picture of the pied-billed grebe is beautiful with the raindrops.

    1. How the heck can a bird survive eating something that large and still aggressively moving? How long does it take them to stop moving? Do they suffocate quickly?

      1. I was wondering that myself (I’m childishly attracted by such ghoulish questions). For comparison, the green heron, about half the size of the great blue heron, chomp and thrashes their frogs until it is limp before swallowing it head first. I filmed this event (WARNING! not suitable viewing if you are having dinner yourself):

        I have to assume the frog is rendered senseless, if not dead, before ingestion. On the other hand, the blue heron above seems to avoid the coup de grâce and the frog must kick his way down unwillingly. If I was forced to guess, I’d say the frog slithers down smoothly, and succumbs to asphyxiation within a few minutes. Which isn’t that bad when you consider alternatives such as an encounter with a mink or racoon.

    1. I have been on the receiving end of the bill of its European relative the Grey Heron (Area cinerea) and can confirm that it is capable of doing serious damage!

  2. Nice pictures! The ‘sans frog’ and ‘avec frog’ images show different age related plumages of the great blue heron. The frog eating bird is not fully mature and still has a grey crown, greyish cheek and a brownish tone to the wing coverts. It also lacks the well developed plumes on the crown and the long pointed, plume-like feathers on the neck and back. The sans frog image is an adult with all of these features well developed. The flushed orange-red colour of the bill indicates that it is in breeding condition.

    1. Good point. Thanks for the info. It is my understanding and observation that the male and female do not differ significantly in plumage. Is that something you agree with? (me no expert).

      1. Yes I’d agree with that. There are differences in average size between males and females but these would not be sufficient to tell when viewing in the field.

  3. I doubt adult bullfrogs have many natural predators…other than birds like herons, maybe snakes? Or maybe I’m full of it and adult bullfrogs have many predators; maybe just not up here in Washington.

    Either way, a nice group of snaps and good action.

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