Readers’ wildlife photos

December 29, 2020 • 8:00 am

Again I importune you to send in your phots. In a few days the situation will be dire!

Today, though,  we have a diversity of photos from Rachel Sperling, including Lepidoptera, landscapes, and herself. Her captions are indented; click on photos to enlarge them.

Here are a few wildlife photos for your site, taken around New England and New York this summer and fall.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) in upstate New York this summer:

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus):

White admiral (Limenitis arthemis):

Hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe), a moth in the Sphingidae (hawkmoth) family. They really do resemble hummingbirds at first glance and they’re hard to photograph because they don’t stop moving! Not for me, anyhow.

Common loon (Gavia immer) on a small lake in the southern Adirondacks this August:


White oak (Quercus alba) on the Appalachian Trail in Pawling, New York. This particular oak, known as the Dover Oak, is at least 300 years old and is thought to be the biggest oak (if not the biggest tree) on the entire 2,190-mile trail. I guess I AM an unabashed tree-hugger.

This black birch (Betula lenta) also known as a sweet birch or spice birch, is also on the AT in New York … and is clearly possessed by some kind of angry spirit. Consensus among hikers is that it was hit by a shotgun shell some years back (it’s still alive). I’d be angry too.

Smooth rock tripe (Umbilicaria mammulata) on a boulder on the AT in New York, though I’ve seen it almost everywhere I’ve hiked in the northeastern US. [JAC: This is a lichen.] So-named because of its resemblance to tripe (cow’s stomach) it’s apparently edible as a last resort. (According to accounts, George Washington’s men ate it to keep from starving at Valley Forge.)

I don’t know if you’re still collecting photos of readers, but this is me (Homo sapiens) on the summit of Mount Mansfield, highest peak in Vermont, trying not to get blown over by the high winds (I think it was gusting around 30mph, maybe more). There wasn’t much of a view at the summit, but once I began my descent, the clouds dispersed and it got better. This was back in late September. When I’m not hiking, I’m a librarian at a university in Connecticut.

“I didn’t mean to climb it, but got excited and soon was at the top.” – John Muir

27 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Consensus among hikers is that it was hit by a shotgun shell some years back (it’s still alive).

    I take it these weren’t hunters who eat what they shoot?

    Great photographs, Rachel.

  2. A very thoughtful and broad range of interesting subjects. Thank you for sharing these.
    The white admiral butterfly is especially interesting to me. This is a color variant of the red-spotted purple butterfly. The white admiral form is more common in the northern parts of the range of this species.

    1. Yes! I’ve actually seen them together at least once (on Mount Monadnock in southern New Hampshire), which I guess is at the northern/southern border of their ranges.

  3. This is a marvellous collection of nature’s gifts, Rachel, thanks! It must been a mega thrill to capture on camera that hummingbird moth. I’ve seen them many times but never could snag a photo. I love how they move and sound too, just like hummingbirds!

      1. Shouldn’t the species description for the Mount Mansfield picture be: Passer spec (Most likely Passer domesticus)?.

    1. I have had a hummingbird moth just stop and slowly walk around the flowers so I could really tell what it was. Our local wildlife know I’m not fast enough or patient enough to get any good photos, so they move very patiently around me, which I do appreciate as i get to know them.

  4. It is noted that Buddleia sp. has not stolen it’s name ‘butterfly bush’. It is said that some South American species evolved tubular flowers and are specifically attracting humming birds though.
    Lovely photos, as Mark said: ‘A very thoughtful and broad range of interesting subjects’.

  5. Nice set of photos, particularly the lovely landscape. I have fond memories of hiking in the area when I was much younger.

  6. Beautiful shots, Rachel. Loves the ones of the AP. We were all set to hike the northern terminus (near where you were) LAST summer, when I broke my arm on my front porch stepping on some stupid ivy. The trip was then planned for this past summer, but covid…Maybe 2021. Did hike the southern terminus in Georgia maybe 5 years and several bits in between, We have our own AP Lite in Ontario, the wonderful Bruce Trail, which we have fortunately been able to hike througout this crazy year.

    1. Thank you! I never intended to hike the AT. The idea struck me as boring; I prefer mountains. But we were being told to hike local this spring and I was stuck in Connecticut… So I hiked a section I’d heard was pretty, and it was actually REALLY lovely (this was up in northwestern CT, where it starts to get a little more hilly) and I was hooked. I got a friend to join me so we could drop cars off at either end of ten-mile sections, and off we were! I like the idea of doing one state every year, but for 2021 we’re working on New York and Massachusetts (having completed CT back in October).

      1. Thanks, Rachel, for bringing back wonderful memories of that part of the AT; I remember well the magnificent Dover Oak. Accessing the trail for my summer sections was always a problem, as I live in Hawaii. There are two points on the AT accessible by rail, Harpers Ferry and near Pawling, NY. The latter is just a platform, the commuter train (MetroNorth from Grand Central Station) only stopping on week-ends and holidays. One summer, headed south to complete the section to Delaware Water Gap. Following summer, north past the Dover Oak, through Con and Mass to North Adams. Across and descending Mt. Bascome, had a run-in with a deer tick, apparently. Cleaning up in Pittsfield, found a red circle across the instep of one foot. Lyme Disease, almost certainly. Within 48 hours, started Doxycycline. Recovery uneventful.

        The next summer, North Adams to Rutland, VT. What beautiful country. Visited the library in Rutland, saw there was to be a book signing later in the day, by Agathe von Trapp, the eldest von Trapp daughter (called Leisel in the movie). She was a vigorous 92 year old, writing to rehabilitate the reputation of her father, not the martinet of the film, and a participant in the very musical family even before Maria entered the picture.

        Sorry for rambling on.

        Joe

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