Readers’ wildlife photos

October 10, 2020 • 8:00 am

Get those wildlife photos, in, folks! (And remember, landscapes and general high-quality photos count as “wildlife”.) Today’s photos come from Kevin Elsken, who lives in Arkansas. I’ve indented his captions and IDs.

So many of your reader submitted wildlife photos are so remarkable and so well done, I use them as aspirational motivation for the photos I take. Hopefully these photos will be of interest to you and your readers.

The first three photos are of everyone’s favorite black and yellow garden spider, Argiope aurantia. Truly a gorgeous animal, though I wouldn’t want to be a small critter on the receiving ends of those fangs.

The second spider I think is a Mabel Orchard Orb WeaverLeucauge argyrobapta. Much smaller than the yellow garden spider, but almost iridescent and gleams in the sunlight. Loves to build webs in and about the compost piles—great place to catch a fly or two.

The last spider I would like to share is the Hentz’s (sometimes called Spotted) Orb WeaverNeoscona crucifera. These spiders become very active in late summer and are nocturnal, so I thought I would share photos that depict both their magnificent orb webs and their propensity to scare the beejeebers out of you at night.

On to the snake portion of the program. The first one is a RIng-necked snakeDiadophis punctatus. My brother spotted this guy on a recent bike ride, and let me tell you he may look tough but this guy was all of about 2 inches long.  According to Wikipedia these snakes are secretive and nocturnal (my 82 year old father in law has lived here his entire life and had never seen one).  While they are believed to be abundant, the author of the Wikipedia article suggests detailed research on this snake is lacking.

The second snake will get your attention: the Eastern Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix. This two-foot-long specimen was lazing in the middle of a country road on a different bike ride. Again according to Wikipedia, these snakes are not aggressive and their bites rarely fatal (I will take their word on the matter).

If I may indulge you with a cat story (I know, twisting your arm!):

It was the second day of July, 2019. I was sitting in our backyard reading when I became aware that the robins were raising a fuss – something was bothering them. It was then I became aware of another sound. . . mew, mew, mew, mew.  I peeked through the fence and you can guess what I saw. I called my wife and after a little work and few bleeding cuts, we brought this guy home:

He appeared to be only 5 or 6 weeks old, but we have no idea where he came from (we did check around the neighborhood). He was a little rough around the edges, hungry, but he did not have fleas but only a few ear mites. He seemed well socialized, did not mind being picked up or petted, and he has used the litter box from day one. We named him Rocket, in honor of either a) the best friend of Bullwinkle J. Moose or b) the best friend of Groot. He can exhibit characteristics of either of his namesakes.

Well he both grew and grew on us, as cats can do. Our last cat, Simba, who had graced the pages of your esteemed blog, passed away before we moved back to Arkansas. We were not sure we wanted another cat, but when a cat like Rocket shows up, what can one do?

But unbeknownst to us, about one month before Rocket appeared to us, a stray tabby with a severely broken back leg was brought to the attention of Keely’s Fund, a charity which assists pets in need in Northwest Arkansas.

With a grant from a local trucking company, JB Hunt, the one year old cat had the surgery he needed to repair his leg. And he earned a name: JB. But he had no home except for the local vet’s office where he spent nights and weekends alone in his cage.

Fast forward to December of 2019. We had gone on a trip and boarded Rocket with his vet. We went to pick him up and the technician, with a bit of a tear in her eye, told us that they had this tabby who had never really been friendly with any cats who came in, but Rocket was different, and would we want to take home a friend? Well who could resist this lovable tabby?

There were a few tears shed at the vet’s office when we took JB home, but when we sent them this photo they cried for joy:

15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Kevin, you made my day!
    Wonderful photos and cat story.
    Hard to believe that Ring necked snake is only 2 inches…enough to scare me if I ran into it.
    Spiders are simply beautiful in their pursuits and endeavors. Your photos caught that for me.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Impressive photos, Kevin, but I have to tell you, I would much rather look at kitties than spiders or snakes.

    I never understand what makes certain cats bond and others not. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.

    Think of Hili and Kulka. No dice there. And yet, your two hit it off immediately.

    I have two that are now six and five. Each of them arrived as part of a litter pair. While they get along OK with their litter mates, their affection for each other started from the day Frida arrived at five weeks old. Jose, who was then 13 months, started carrying her around in his mouth like a mama cat.

    Sometimes I wish they could talk.


  3. That is a killer story on your cats. Both of ours are rescue as well. There is no need to buy a cat or dog today.

  4. I saw one of those big yellow spiders when I was around 5. A tree had come down and the roots were above ground and there was a big hole. Anyway I was told to stay away and I did. But when I got older I asked different people about the spider and no one seemed to know nor did I get the feeling anyone believed me.
    Thank you. I now know they exist and what they are.
    Cats are the greatest.
    Great pictures. Even the tiny snake.

  5. I accidentally made a bad pun out loud when I saw the picture of the copperhead. I said to myself, “Wow, that color is really striking.” I had to post this comment as a sort of confession.

    I do love the pictures, spiders, snakes, cats and all. Lots of great pictures of charming and beautiful predators.

  6. A paraphrase of Joel Grey’s M.C. in “Cabaret”: Even the snakes are beautiful!
    Your kindness is humbling.

  7. Now this was a fantastic RWP post. Those spider pics were dramatic. And sometimes it’s nice when “wildlife” becomes tamed- Rocket has that special talent.

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