Readers’ wildlife photos (and videos)

Stephen Barnard from Idaho is back with some lovely photos—and two videos as lagniappe. His captions and IDs are indented.

The first four are mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in flight. Migratory mallards are pouring in from Canada and parts north. There will soon be thousands. Duck hunting season, popular here, starts October 19. You’ll be happy to know I don’t hunt ducks or allow it on my property. [JAC: Yes, I am delighted at this!]

Next is a photo of Hitch (Canis familiaris), two more mallards, two Canada geese (Branta canadensis), and a moose (Alces alces). It’s not much as a photo, but funny.

This bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sometimes perches in this tall blue spruce (Picea pungens) in my back yard, scanning the creek for fish. This is probably Lucy.

A rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) consuming a callibaetis (Callibaetis) mayfly.

Two short videos:

Rainbow trout spawn in the spring, and brown trout (Salmo trutta) spawn in the fall, which is convenient when they coexist because they use the same spawning beds, called redds. These brown trout are on a particularly nice redd, which is also what anglers call a “prime lie” — a favored spot for fish to feed and rest.  They compete with each other, and drive away the rainbows that threaten to eat their eggs. The bird calling in the background is a marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris).

Hitch moving cows (Bos taurus).


  1. GBJames
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I love the trout photos especially.

  2. Debra Coplan
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Great photos from Idaho!
    Hitch reminds me of our dog growing up also a herder. He came to us from Texas as a young puppy. We lived in the city but took him camping in the mountains. There was a herd of cattle and he rounded them up. He had never seen cattle in his life.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted October 14, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      We moved from L.A. to a farm in Ontario, Canada in the 70s. Our dog, a six-year-old Irish setter, had never laid eyes on a cow either. A couple of days after moving into the farmhouse, we look out and see, in the distant pasture, a red dog rounding up the cattle, running them from one end of the pasture to the other. And realize, with a shock, that it was OUR red dog. As the cattle were beef cattle, the farmer was non-too pleased. We had to keep a better eye on Red after that!

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Really nice photos and video. Herding cattle must be easier than cats.

  4. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    These are all wonderful.

  5. rickflick
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    After two fine shots of the eagle, I couldn’t help thinking how the trout in the prime lie are sitting ducks for the big birds. If you ever worried about how difficult it is for raptors to make a living in the wild, this should set your mind at ease.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted October 14, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      They have to work at it. It’s not easy, and not easy for the trout. In addition to eagles, trout have to deal with herons, white pelicans, ospreys, otters, and me and my angler friends. 🙂

      • rickflick
        Posted October 14, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        It can’t be too hard though. In the past year I have more or less accidentally spotted two successful hunts by eagles and two by osprey on our stretch of the Snake River.
        When I was living in New York near the Hudson River, we watched the advance of eagles from the northern part of the state to the southern part in a period of about 10 years. A major come back after the effects of DDT had worn off.

  6. Posted October 14, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing these Stephen. I love the videos.

    And Hitch did do, “very good!” Nice that he gets to work. I’m sure he enjoys it.

    The water in your stream is amazingly clear. Is it spring-fed?

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted October 14, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes. It’s a spring creek.

  7. CR
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    And, speaking of ducks and hunting, our current (and soon to be past, CC willing) administration continues to seek new lows.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted October 14, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      I can’t get outraged about this, as much as I’d like to. The Duck Stamp is a $25 license fee on migratory bird hunters. It’s an extremely efficient, low overhead source of funds for wetlands acquisition and conservation. Regardless of my personal distaste for killing birds for sport, I acknowledge that the Duck Stamp has been successful and emulated in other countries. It may sound cruel to duck lovers, but no one has a greater interest in a large, healthy population of ducks than sport duck hunters.

      • rickflick
        Posted October 14, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        I don’t have a problem with that, although I would point out that funding wetlands could just as easily be accomplished without the hunters participating. General revenue. It’s just a question of cultural priorities. Hunting is a cherished part of our culture and is not likely to fade away soon. Might as well make the best of it.

  8. Claudia Baker
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Those talons, that beak, the wings! What great shots!

  9. Posted October 14, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Excellent photos, Stephen! That Oncorhynchus mykiss trout is begging to be kissed.

    Wow to the cattle! I didn’t know you had such a big herd. Hitch sure is on the ball.

  10. dom
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    You are soooooooooo fortunate to live there Stephen… gorgeous landscapes, wonderful wildlife… majestic! 😗

    dom the envious!

  11. Mark R.
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful photos of beautiful Idaho wildlife + Hitch and cows. Did you train Hitch or is that just herder instinct?

    Also, a couple weeks ago I finished The Feather Thief. It was a fantastic read…frickin’ Rist! Anyway, I’ve been waiting for one of your photo sets on RWP so I could say THANKS for the recommendation.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted October 14, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Hitch hasn’t been trained to herd. He’s a natural.

      Glad you liked the book.

  12. sugould
    Posted October 14, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    If everyone had the enthusiasm that Hitch has for his work, the world would be a better place.

  13. Posted October 14, 2020 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Gosh these are marvelous photos. The colors and sharpness are amazing. Good to see Hitch earning his keep.

  14. Posted October 15, 2020 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    The dog is hilarious. I have a mini Australian Shepherd (see ) who would LOVE to boss around and herd those cows.
    He does that with his plush toys in our NYC apartment!

    D.A. NYC

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