Photos of readers

After I post this, we’re again down to zero submissions, so please send yours in (three photos max, please, though readers keep sending in more!). Today’s entry is from reader Ned from Oz, and I’ve indented his words:

A casual but frequent reader of your website (I feel I want to be playful and call it a blog, but perhaps too soon). I really enjoy the mix of everything – hard science, critical thoughtful social commentary, fun bits and so on. I was in the States this time last year, and thought for a while I’d be driving from Grand Rapids in Michigan down around the bottom of the lake up to Chicago to catch a flight. I was really looking forward to going via Botany Pond for a walk and a look and to see if I could spot Honey. But plans changed, and I ended up on a train, so didn’t get the chance.

I’m a high school maths and science teacher. I’ve mainly taught physics over the years, but slowly became more interested in biology, and especially genetics. Now I find genetics hard to teach, because it’s such a huge topic, and I never know what to put in and what to leave out. And high school texts still basically teach (or to put it differently, students typically walk away from the topic with) “there are two versions of a gene – the good dominant version, and the bad recessive version.” And it’s hard to get past that. At the moment I’m “teaching” from home, and all the screen time is driving me a bit crazy. We here in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia have had a reasonably serious second wave of covid, with the result that we’re pretty strongly “locked down” – only leave the house for an hour of exercise a day, or for necessary shopping and giving/receiving care. Compulsory masks everywhere out of home, and the vast vast majority just mask up with no issues. Which seems, um, different to the USA.

Four photos:

Standing on top of Mt Elbert in Colorado, the highest point in the Rocky Mountains (a long but easy walk):

A composite photo of three beasts from that US trip – ID anyone? (the middle one, the white woolly one, just wandered out of nowhere and disappeared into nowhere right on the summit of Mt Bierstadt not that far out of Denver):

Lying in my tent on a shorter hiking trip a couple of hours west of Melbourne (Mt Langi Ghiran):

Machu Picchu a couple of years back – the “joke” is that a banana is something of a standard measurement sometimes – so “banana for scale”.

As we say in Oz, goodonya.


  1. Posted August 21, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    The goat is Oreamnos americanus, the cricket is female… no idea what species 🤓👍

  2. Janet
    Posted August 21, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Hope you are using a regulation size banana.

  3. Posted August 21, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Very good! The big insect is a Mormon cricket, although it is technically a katydid with vestigial wings. There is some interesting biology and apparently some history having to do with Mormons:
    The white wooly thing is really a very cool find. 😉

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 21, 2020 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if make crickets/katydids have ovipositor envy.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 21, 2020 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

        Make = male.

  4. rickflick
    Posted August 21, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of bananas, a young lady teaching science in middle school would show slides from her geology trips. She’d use her shoe, or a cup of yogurt from her lunch, a small stuffed toy, or some such thing for scale and the kids would go crazy-wild. Why? I don’t know, but they seemed to love those small personal touches mixed in with their science.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 21, 2020 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      I just use my thumb like a schmuck.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted August 21, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Glad you got to see some great sites in the Americas. Nice Mountain goat sighting (also called the Rocky Mountain goat). Don’t know what the little bird is. “Little Brown Bird” is the catch all, though I guess this is a little grey bird. 🙂

  6. Paul Clapham
    Posted August 21, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    The bird looks like a Canada Jay to me. Did it ask for food?

    • Paul Matthews
      Posted August 21, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes it’s a Canada Jay (Perisoreus canadensis), until recently known officially as the Grey Jay. I can’t remember why exactly the name change was made, but presumably not because “Grey” was considered offensive to some (see McCown’s Longspur in a recent WEIT post).

      • Raskos
        Posted August 21, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        It’s now our National Bird, which might be the explanation for the name change.
        Up here we just call them Whisky Jacks.
        Or Camp Robber Birds, if they’ve just been through your campsite while you were away.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 21, 2020 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        I think that has always been one of their names. Whiskey jack is another which is an anglicized pronunciation of the indigenous mythological figure they are associated with. One of those creatures with multiple names. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

        • Paul Matthews
          Posted August 22, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

          Yes. In fact my recollection (I may be wrong) is that at one point, way back when, Canada Jay was the “official” name (i.e., the one chosen by the American Ornithologists’ Union, now American Ornithological Society, whom bird guides and birders follow). It was then changed to Grey Jay, then back to Canada Jay. Make up your mind already!

          When I moved to Ottawa in the seventies there were a few Canada Jays in the area, at least in the winter. As they’re not shy of people (in fact they often seem to seek them out!), I thought they would become established in the region. Instead they’ve declined to the point that they’re now extremely rare. Global warming and milder winters may have something to do with it.

  7. Greg Geisler
    Posted August 21, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Great post! Goodonya, Ned! Keep up the great work!

  8. Ken Pidcock
    Posted August 21, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Once attended a lecture on nerve physiology using lobsters as a model (pretty popular in its day, as I recall) where they used a cocktail fork as a size reference.

  9. Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the lovely pics, Ned.

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