Readers’ wildlife photos

September 9, 2020 • 7:45 am

Thanks to the several readers who responded to my plea for wildlife photos. I now have at least a week’s worth.

One of the kind respondents was Stephen Barnard, who hasn’t been here for a while. He sent a batch of lovely photos, and I’ve indented his notes below.

A few “wildlife” photos for you (except for the last).

The wildlife on Loving Creek is micro-seasonal through the summer. Species come and species go, on a weekly or even daily schedule/

The first three photos are, obviously, hummingbirds. I get two species: Black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri) and Rufous (Selasphorus rufus). Both are migrating through and not breeding. The Black-chinned arrive first, but the Rufous come soon after, and fireworks ensue. The Black-chinned are pugnacious and defensive of their territory, but the Rufous eventually overwhelm them with numbers. The first two photos show each in a defensive posture, and the third shows the Black-chinned’s purple gorget. Sadly, they’re all gone now.

The next two photos are action macros. The flower in the first photo is Cleome serrulata, commonly known as Rocky Mountain beeplant/beeweed, stinking clover, bee spider-flower, skunk weed, Navajo spinach, and guano. “Navajo spinach” is problematical, so please don’t tip Titania off. Sadly, all the flowers and bees are gone now.

Next three are trout-themed photos. Loving Creek gets several different mayfly “hatches”. The Tricos are the most impressive in numbers and biomass. Sadly, they’re over. Happily, the Callibaetis are thriving. The first photo is a Callibaetis “dun” — a recently emerged mayfly, drifting on the surface drying its wings, vulnerable to a trout, or even a swallow. The third photo is a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) consuming a Callibaetis “spinner” — a spent fly that’s fallen dead in the water.

Finally, not wildlife, but some cows. I’m trying to rejuvenate the soil with a varied cover crop and grazing.


19 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Cool, Stephen, nice to see you patch in Idaho again! Nice photos. I assume you are renting your pasture(s) to local ranchers (that is, you don’t own the livestock yourself)?

    1. My camera has a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 second, which I try to achieve for these shots. Really good stop-action hummingbird shots use a strobe.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by “the marsh’s Typha”. The mayflies are native as far as I know. The trout (rainbows, browns, and a few brook trout) have been introduced, but are wild (naturally reproducing).

  2. Great shots. There are still just a few black chinned hummers here, but they’ll soon be gone. Temps in the low 40s last night.

  3. These were a treat, thanks.

    Now is it the cow manure that helps rejuvenate the soil? I always thought cows were really hard on soil, kicking up rocks and such…maybe that’s from overgrazing.

    1. The cover crop includes leguminous plants that fix nitrogen in the soil. The cattle are rotated from one place to the next nearly daily, kept confined with electric fencing, so they never overgraze. Once they’re moved, the area they’ve grazed is irrigated, the plants grow back, and so it continues.

      1. 🙂 And those grasslands evolved with hoofed grazers coming and going (and fire), so it’s all good.

        On our property “out west” (WA state, 20 acres, 2100 ft. elevation, just east of the Cascade Range, rainfall about 35 inches per year, all of it falling between from Sept. though May.), I’ve left it fallow for nearly 20 years now (with some minor application of slaked lime) and it is still “trying” to recover from mild overgrazing (previous owner). It’s better but has a long way to go yet.

        It’s interesting to contrast it with the directly neighboring properties that haven’t been grazed in (???) 50 years. They are much more lush and diverse.

        We’re getting there …

        How many acres do you have there?

        1. 300 acres, but about 1/3 is riparian zone and not cultivated.

          This valley is unusual. It’s an ancient lake bed, adjacent to high, dry desert on the south and mountains on the north. What makes it unusual is that it’s well watered by the Snake River Aquifer. I believe that the aquifer is a remnant of the hotspot currently under Yellowstone Park, but once here, before the plate moved — but i’m no geologist. Loving Creek and the greater Silver Creek watershed is fed by artesian springs, which makes ideal habitat for trout, and that’s mainly why I live here. 🙂

          1. Thanks Stephen, truly sounds like a paradise.

            At 300 acres, you do have some management to worry about!

            About 1000 feet lower than our place is a pasture fed by artesian water that the farmer can hay right through our rainless summers.

            I used to live near Lake Pepin in SE MN (many years ago). The streams coming off the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River there were mostly spring-fed and host to trout. They were amazing and amazingly beautiful.

      2. Aha, thanks for the info…farming is incredibly hard work…nearly daily moving electric fences and cattle? Phew, tired just imagining it. I use berseem clover as a winter cover crop to fix nitrogen on my small gardening plot. Seems to work very well and gets better each year.

        1. I expend no physical effort on the farming and the livestock. The leasee handles his cows and my partner handles the farming, much aided by well-paid, mostly Mexican, farmworkers. My waning energy is devoted to my hobbies. 🙂

Leave a Reply to Blue Cancel reply