Readers’ wildlife photos

June 26, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good wildlife/street/travel photos, as I’m getting nervous again (or rather, I’m always nervous):

Today’s photos come from Matt Young, one of the founders of the excellent pro-evolution website Panda’s Thumb.  His notes and captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.


Pursuant to your request for nature photographs, here is a baker’s half-dozen that I sent to Science in honor of Nature Photography Day. I have some text that goes with them.

Additionally, could I interest you in announcing the 13th annual Panda’s Thumb Photography Contest, here?

For my 80th birthday, my son gathered some of my “favorite” pictures on some pretext or other, and presented me with a splendid casebound book, cleverly formatted with quotations, mostly by photographers. These are some of the pictures that I chose.

American avocet, Recurvirostra americana, Cottonwood Lake, Boulder, Colorado. This one was just standing there, begging to be photographed, as I biked past.

Orange meadowhawk, Sympetrum spp., Elmer’s Two-Mile Creek, Boulder, Colorado. Dragonflies are a dream to photograph, because they often return to roost in the same spot.

Rainbow Bridge,, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, just off Lake Powell.

Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon near Page, Arizona, on Navajo land. I took a guided tour (the only way you can see it) and was lucky to get a couple of halfway decent pictures despite the darkness and the guide always at my heels.

Crepuscular rays, Niwot, Colorado. In this picture, you can see clearly that the rays are formed by atmospheric scattering, where the irregularities in the clouds are essentially projected onto the atmosphere. Also, every cloud has a silver lining (sometimes gold).

Painted turtleChrysemys picta, Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado. This is the western variant, at roughly its westernmost extreme, yet you can see many of them sunning themselves in Duck Pond every year.

Eclipse of the sun, Jackson, Wyoming, August 21, 2017.

And, finally, a mite too late for the book, an eclipse of the moon, just before sunrise on May 28, 2021. The moon was not visible after totality because of the brightening sky and set soon after.

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Marvellous work, Matt, thanks! Congratulations on the book marking your milestone birthday. I conjecture that Antelope Canyon is so named because of the striking rock patterns that resemble antelope horns.

  2. Many thanks, Jerry, for running these pix!

    Regarding the 13th (!) annual photography contest, entries will be accepted through July 7, and you may find the rules at the link above. Please feel free to enter up to three photographs. The winner and runner-up will receive a copy of Improbable Destinies by Jonathan Losos or Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) by me and Paul Strode.

  3. A very fine set! I liked the clever idea of photographing the patterned underside of the painted turtle. Art is everywhere.

    And I can also commend to readers to enter the photography contest at Panda’s Thumb. This can include pictures that you have shown online before.

  4. Wonderful photos! It’s very uplifting to start the day seeing these photos.
    Just beautiful.

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