Readers’ wildlife photos

October 25, 2021 • 8:00 am

If you have some good wildlife photos, by all means send them in stat.  The tank grows ever lower. . .

Today’s photos are from reader Bob Placier. His narrative and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

In response to your request for photos, thought I would change it up a bit with my submissions. Before becoming a bander, I would have described my field as being a forest ecologist and especially a dendrologist—still perhaps my strongest area. I still spend lots of time in the woods. so here are some non-avian photos I hope will be of use and interest to readers.

While still teaching Dendrology – I retired in 2015 – I took my lab to a nearby Ohio state forest to introduce them to our native American Chestnut (Castanea dentata). All trees of any size have been gone for many years, but the root systems keep on sending up sprouts in our highly acidic sandstone derived soils. When we reached the sapling I had in mind, we encountered this Gray Treefrog trying to remain inconspicuous. This is one of the two cryptic species (Hyla versicolor or H. chrysocelis, which are impossible to separate in the field, except by voice. And this one remained mute.

American Chestnut foliage. These are native. Efforts have been made to breed blight resistance by crossing with the Chinese Chestnut (C. mollissima), eventually producing 15/16 American individuals possessing the Chinese genes for resistance. Out-planting has begun in recent years.

Same forest, but in very early spring. Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) is a member of the Ericaceae family, mostly found in highly acidic soils. It’s easily overlooked since the flowers are often hidden under the leathery evergreen leaves. And they bloom before most wildflower lovers have ventured into the woods.

Another acid soil denizen, called Teaberry, Wintergreen, or Mountain-tea (Gaultheria procumbens). Its leaves taste just like Teaberry gum. Both this species and Trailing Arbutus are woody plants, so I got to cover them in Dendrology.

A bit later in the season, and not confined to acidic soils. Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis). Happily common in my woods.

My lips are sealed about the location of these beauties, within easy walking distance of my home. Pink Lady’s Slipper or Moccasin Flower (Is that cultural appropriation?) (Cypripedium acaule). It’s in a very acidic oak forest.

6 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Gray tree frogs have been residing in my rain gutters and a nearby ladder which, I conjecture, amplifies their chirps as described in a Nature news article (easy to search). The natural spatial audio some days is remarkable.

    They are adorable little ones!

  2. Beautiful orchids! In the area where I grew up, the Showy Orchis had disappeared already thirty or forty years ago when I was a child. I only saw them once, when I was fifteen or so, and then they were gone. You live in a very special place.

  3. I was briefly alarmed at the photo of the gray treefrog, because I’m living in a relatively new geographic area and I just this morning humanely euthanized another (what I believed to be) Cuban treefrog. I’m not used to living where the Cuban treefrogs overlap geographically with the gray treefrogs, and had forgotten to check carefully for the diagnostic characters. I quickly looked up a comparison of the two species and I’m confident it was a Cuban treefrog, but it was a good reminder to double-check in the future to make certain before it’s too late.

    Also, great pictures, thank you for sharing.

  4. Beautiful picture of the Pink Lady’s Slipper. About a 30 minute drive from my house is a rare fen wetland with the largest colony of this flower in Canada. Here they call it the Showy Lady’s Slipper. The best time to view them is late June to early July. There are hundreds upon hundreds of them – it’s stunning to see. Unfortunately, at that time, there are also millions of mosquitoes who are as happy to see you as you are to see the flowers.

    1. Just to clarify:

      Pink Lady’s Slipper – Cypripedium acaule
      Showy Lady’s Slipper: Cypripeduim reginae

  5. Just scrolling past to get to today’s Hili first, I put the brakes on at the chestnut pic. Nice to confirm that my pattern-recognition abilities are still intact.

    Sadly, the backcross efforts are not panning out, and now with DNA sequencing capabilities we can see why – the best trees still don’t show any marked Chinese homozygosity in any consistent locations, and it has further become apparent that blight resistance depends on more than three still-unidentified genes. Efforts continue to identify those, but meanwhile the trees with oxalate oxidase from wheat cloned into their genome (still under Federal review before release is possible) offer significant blight resistance even as heterozygots, while maintaining an otherwise pure American genome.

    If you were/are you at Ohio U, is your chestnut interest by any chance via Brian McCarthy?

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