Readers’ wildlife photos

We have a tripartite piece today, with everyone’s notes and IDs indented:

First, from biologist/naturalist/photographer Piotr Naskrecki‘s Facebook page, a wonderful grasshopper from Mozambique. It was such a good example of crypsis that I asked him if I could post it here, and he kindly gave me permission. His caption:

Although one of the largest insects in Gorongosa, the Gladiator grasshopper (Acanthoxia gladiator) is also one of the most difficult species to find. Not surprisingly so. Its coloration and the body form are designed to look just like a dry stem of grass. Both its head and the abdomen carry long, blade-like extensions (hence the name) that make the illusion complete. The grasshopper fauna of Gorongosa is incredibly rich, with over 160 species that we have recorded so far.

Spot the grasshopper!

A lovely bird from Duncan McCaskill of Canberra, Australia:

Here are a few photos of just one bird, but a very special bird. Back in mid-January, at the height of our severe summer when a lot of the country was on fire, a spectacular and very special bird turned up in a small patch of woodland in Canberra: a Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia). The Regent Honeyeater is a critically endangered species, with a population estimated to be only around 350 individuals, scattered over a range exceeding 600,000km2. They were once fairly common throughout south-eastern Australia, and were seen in the suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, but the population has declined with land clearing of their woodland habitat, and crashed from the 1960s to the point where is it on the verge of extinction.

When the presence of this bird in January was reported in birding circles, birders from far and wide went to see it. It remained in the area for a week or so and seem unbothered by the attention of birders. There were around half a dozen people watching it when I visited.

It was named Regent Honeyeater in the early twentieth century due to its black and gold colouring which is similar to that of the Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus), which in turn got its name a century earlier due to its resemblance to the colourful attire of the Prince Regent of Britain (later George IV). Prior to the twentieth century, it was known has the Warty-faced Honeyeater, an unattractive but accurate name.

With an insect (I think it’s a winged ant):

The woodland was bone-dry, like the whole region.  Many of the trees looked like they were severely stressed, if not dead. But one large, old Yellow Box (Eucalytpus melliodora) was in flower, and this was the reason the bird was there. Here it is feeding on a flower in the canopy of the Yellow Box:

 

From James Blilie:

I’m not the big wildlife photographer in the family—that’s my son, Jamie. But I did get these this winter.  Birds on one of our feeders in a snow fall.

A Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus):

Two shots of a female Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis):

 

7 Comments

  1. Liz
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Very nice pictures. I especially love all of the colors in the last one of the northern cardinal.

  2. Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    All excellent! With interesting stories too.
    One may fairly wonder why natural selection would push crypsis to such high fidelities of camouflage in the grasshopper. Right down to the little black specks of color that resemble fungal growth in a blade of grass.

  3. rickflick
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    From the exotic and rare, to the common. All are wonderful.

  4. Posted March 30, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Nature’s beauties…. what a welcome balm to my soul. Thanks, guys!

  5. Mark R.
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    “Although one of the largest insects in Gorongosa…”
    So how big is that ‘hopper? Very neat insect.

    Nice birds too, thanks for the submissions.

  6. tjeales
    Posted March 30, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Terrific grasshopper but seeing pictures of a Regent Honeyeater makes me both happy and jealous. Amazing birds and so endangered. I missed the one that turned up in Brisbane recently but I would love to see one in the wild.

  7. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted March 31, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Neat grasshopper!


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