Readers’ wildlife photos

June 22, 2020 • 7:45 am

We have a few in the queue, but I’d like more, so send in your good wildlife photos (please make sure they’re in focus, of a reasonable size, like 1mB, and have the species identified along with the Latin binomial). Thanks.

We have several contributors today, the first being Dieter Letsch. As always, contributors’ words are indented:

I was at my mother-in-law’s one morning watering her garden, and I saw these tiny bees working on a pot full of black-eyed Susans [Rudbeckia hirta].  They are only about a centimeter long – not typical honey bees for sure, but I have no idea what species these are.  They were very methodically “mowing” the pollen on the cones of each flower, which is actually a composite of many florets, like a sunflower.  Their legs and sides were covered with pollen which I thought was very picturesque.

From Jamie Blilie, our youngest contributor. I lost the email and don’t know the species, but will inquire. In the meantime, you can guess them:

From Rachel Sperling:

Here are a few snakes I’ve encountered in the woods of Connecticut this spring. We’ve got a garter snake  [Thamnophis sirtalis], a couple of northern water snakes [Nerodia sipedon] getting their kicks, a timber rattlesnake [Crotalus horridus], and what’s probably an eastern racer [Coluber constrictor] (but could be a black rat snake). I’m hiking the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Trail in bite-size sections and I think snakes are beautiful so these have been exciting encounters (though the water snakes made me feel like a bit of a voyeur). I didn’t realize non-rattlesnakes also vibrate the tips of their tails when you get too close. It’s good they do or I’d probably have stepped on that eastern racer!

Finally, from reader Ken Phelps, we are giving d*g lovers their due with a picture of two leaping specimens of Canis lupus familiaris:

Every dog has its day, and today is that day!

15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Good pictures! I will have a hard time identifying the bees, as there are several groups that have this ‘look’. There are digger bees, leaf cutter bees, and some others.
    That is a huge size difference in the water snakes! I did not know males were so much smaller.

    1. In May I saw hundreds of honey bees in our garden. Lately, though, there are only a few, but two new species showed up in small numbers. Don’t know what they are, but one was larger than a honey bee with a yellow head, and one was smaller with a dark head. There are many species of bee and wasp out there that are much less known. I’d like to get to know some of them.

  2. I’ve long held that humans have an innate fear and sense of snakes. I many occasions I have been walking through forest and simply stopped in my tracks for no conscious reason, only to look down and see a snake very close. In Africa, this happened several times with cobra, mamba, and puff adder!

    Of course, I can only wonder how many I might have stepped over without any notice!

    1. You may be right. And not just humans, but other primates too:

      Like most wild creatures, I think snakes should be admired from afar (very far in some cases). But I do think they’re beautiful. As an English major and an amateur naturalist, I was always moved by the fact that the Ancient Mariner in Coleridge’s poem begins his redemption by noting the beauty of the water-snakes:

      “Beyond the shadow of the ship,
      I watched the water-snakes:
      They moved in tracks of shining white,
      And when they reared, the elfish light
      Fell off in hoary flakes.

      Within the shadow of the ship
      I watched their rich attire:
      Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
      They coiled and swam; and every track
      Was a flash of golden fire.

      O happy living things! no tongue
      Their beauty might declare:
      A spring of love gushed from my heart,
      And I blessed them unaware:
      Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
      And I blessed them unaware.”

  3. I’m pretty sure it’s a rat snake (not a racer). It’s quite a good photo, so if you enlarge it, and look at the far left of the photo, you can see that the dorsal scales are keeled; in racers they are smooth (without the narrow ridge running fore and aft down the center of the scale). It also looks pretty glossy, another characteristic of rat snakes (racers are what’s been described as “matte finish”). Nice explainers by North Carolina Parks and Papa Pepper.

    1. Thank you! That’s really helpful. I was looking for the checkered belly, but when I blew up the photo it seemed more gray underneath. I put down my hiking pole a little too close to this snake and the tip of its tail startled vibrating. It was under some dried leaves so it made quite an eerie sound.

  4. This was a great set.

    Black eyed Susan’s are great insect magnets.
    Those bees are completely packed with pollen. Cool!

    I think Jamie’s second photo is some type of wren?

    Loved the snakes; don’t see many snakes in RWP.

    1. I was not online yesterday morning.

      The wren is either a Pacific Wren (Troglodytes pacificus) or House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

      The other bird, Jamie thinks, is a Cassin’s Vireo (Vireo cassinii).

      The wren photo was taken in our local woods, right on our property in White Salmon, WA, at about 2100 feet of elevation. (We will retire there.)

      The Vireo photo was taken in a natural area called Catherine Creek, on the north slope of the Columbia River Gorge National Recreation Area, just east of the town of White Salmon, WA and Hood River, OR.

      We can walk to Catherine Creek from our place; but we usually drive to the end of the road to avoid ~3 miles of hot, dusty road walking.

      These photos shows the environs of our place:

      Columbia Gorge from near our place:

      Views from our place:
      Mount Adams (WA), ~12,300 ft:

      Mount Hood, OR,~11,100 ft (taken from our front porch):

    1. I’m sure Dixie and Gem thank you for the thought, and would happily give you a good lick to remember your dogs by. They are both mongrels.

      Dixie is a Coonhound, Husky, and who knows what cross. She is a rescue from a West Coast native community where she spent her first (of 2 1/2) years as a free range dog. She loves everybody and everything, and has no apparent limits to her energy.

      Gem, four years old, is a rescue from Iran. She was a street puppy in Tehran, rescued from a gang of budding A-Holes who were about to cut her ears off. She has fear/aggression issues (like dog PTSD). She spent two years with a family in Victoria, but as they added foster children to their pack she became too protective when the inevitable chaos broke out, and would direct her charges by nipping. She is a mixture of Anatolian Shepherd, Saluki, German Shepherd, and about 50% “Unidentified African and Asian Village Dog breeds”, as the genetic report puts it. The latter likely account for her relatively small (60 lb.) size. She is a very fast runner, leaving the longer-legged, 72 lb. Dixie in the weeds.

      More running action on my Flickr page. Just search my name.

      1. Thanks for the interesting background on your extended family! Double good for you for rescuing two lovely creatures. I looked Anatolian shepherds and, man, they are huge!

  5. Lovely photos. I think the first bird is a vireo, maybe a blue-headed vireo (Vireo solitarius), although without knowing the location, it’s impossible to say for sure. The second bird is almost certainly a house wren (Troglodytes aedon).

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