Readers’ wildlife photos

Today’s photos come from reader Gregory Zolnerowich, and I’ve indented his captions:

I thought I’d share some photos taken by my fellow kayakers and me during our recent 9-day trip along the Kansas River. The photos were taken by me, Steve Garrett, and Lisa Grossman, and I have their permission to use them. Most of them were taken with smartphones, so the image quality might be somewhat lacking.

The first three photos are tiger beetle larvae (Carabidae: Cicindelinae), they are pretty well camouflaged against the sandy banks of the river. They dig vertical burrows and ambush their prey. Look at those great mouthparts in Photo 3!

The next two photos show a male stag beetle, I think it is Lucanus capreolus (Coleoptera: Lucanidae). It was found upside down on the sand, unable to gain purchase to flip itself over. It was essentially making six-legged sand angels. Bill Hughes released the beetle in a wooded area.

Photos 6-7 are egg masses of the dobsonfly (Neuroptera: Corydalidae). Females lay their eggs on vegetation overhanging water, and the dry covering of the egg mass is hard and brittle. The larvae hatch, drop into the water, and are voracious predators known as hellgrammites. Adult dobsonflies are pretty impressive. These egg masses were fairly common along the western half of the river, and much less common as we approached Kansas City.

Animal tracks such as raccoons, deer, beaver, coyotes, and sometimes otters are easy to find, and the next photo shows some raccoon tracks (Procyon lotor).

The collective CSI wisdom of our group thinks the next photo shows the tracks of a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) as it dragged its fish meal to a suitable spot to devour.


The last photo shows my footprint next to a great blue heron’s (Ardea herodias).


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    A super interesting edition of RWP – tracks are so interesting!

    • rickflick
      Posted August 15, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Agree. I always watch the ground for track when out in the bush. Some I know, others not. Always interesting.

  2. Posted August 15, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Cool stuff! I’ve never been any good at finding tiger beetle larvae.

    If the eagle tracks were found as fossil tracks in Jurassic sandstone, you would have to conclude they were tracks of a dinosaur dragging its tail.

  3. Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Those tiger beetle larvae remind me of the brain-consuming creatures put in Star Trek officers’ ears in the opening scenes of “Wrath of Khan”, the best of all the Star Trek movies, IMHO.

  4. jezgrove
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Great photos – that last one puts things in perspective . Wow!

  5. Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Wonderful set of photos and narrative, Gregory. Thanks!

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