Readers’ wildlife photos

November 2, 2021 • 8:00 am

Since I noted that this may become a sporadic feature because of a lack of submissions, I’ve gotten many of them. Thanks!

Today we have a new photographer prompted by my plea. Here are photos from Florida by reader Quentin Tuckett. His notes are indented, though I’ve left out the Latin binomials. Click on the photos to enlarge them. Be sure to check out the amazing snack-mimicking caterpillars at the bottom.

Some photos attached (and captions) from my travels in and around Tampa, FL. I am not a photographer, even an amateur one; thus, most of the photographs were taken with various phone cameras. Ultimately, I am sending these along because I enjoy the wildlife photographs and would love to see them continue,

Green tree frog in the morning light:

Some type of skink; perhaps the readers will know. Photographed near Tampa:

Gopher tortoise in Little Manatee State Park; the disturbed earth is due to rooting wild hogs:

Gopher tortoise in the backyard; this species (and its burrow) is protected under Florida law:

Turtle with shell damage, presumably due to a car strike:

Green swordtails captured in Hillsborough County; feral populations exhibit extensive color variation:

Juvenile bowfin; they are really cute when small. Students of comparative zoology will be familiar with this fish:

Blackchin tilapia, a non-native species in Florida. Captured in estuarine waters of Tampa Bay:

Tilapia (probably blue tilapia) bower, the light patches; the tilapia are the dark shapes; many tilapia are moothbrooders so it’s not a nest:

Parakeet, likely escaped from a pet owner; I suspect it didn’t last long due to its bright color and the presence of raptors:

Sandhill crane; these birds are lawn ornaments in my area of Florida:

Turkey in scrub habitat:

Yellow-crowned night heron in a red mangrove along the coast of Tampa Bay:

Three pictures of a snake mimic; we’ll see if the readers can identify it; Hillsborough County, FL:

22 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Before I got to the end I wondered why on earth evolution would cause a caterpillar to mimic a snack. 🙂

  2. Nice photos Quentin! Nice to see the resurgence of the Sandhill Cranes and wild Turkeys. When I was a kid (1970s), these were completely absent. Now they are abundant. Almost pests! 🙂

    1. Once on a field trip in the 70s we spotted a pair of Sandhill Cranes and stopped to take photos since they were so rare. They wouldn’t let us get within a half mile of them before they would fly off. Now they are quite common and you can get quite close to them to take pictures.

      1. I play disk golf regularly, and one of my local courses is a favorite site for Sandhill cranes. Absolutely wonderful to be out early on a dewy morning, and see pairs of these huge, beautiful creatures flying low overhead, calling with their distinctive rattle.

    1. I do too. Maybe it will find a mate who also escaped? Where I live (New Orleans-but I hear they are also in other cities, even in winters up north!) there is a small flock of beautiful and loud monk parakeets. They have certain places and feeders they like to visit at certain times, and I like to go see if I can find them when I’m walking the dog. I’ve read (without knowing for sure if it’s true) that the flock is from escaped pets (or pets that were released). They loathe people and chastise me viciously when I get close to them, even when I don’t have my dog, which makes me wonder if part of their success is due to a healthy dislike of people getting too close to them.

      1. Here in Long Beach, CA we have large flocks of some sort of green parrots. They eat the seeds of the tall palm trees that we have so many of. I suspect they have stronger beaks than their competition and are the only ones that can eat the seeds. Perhaps the parakeets will survive using a similar strategy. They are smart, adaptable birds. I have to think they have good instincts when it comes to avoiding raptors.

      2. The parakeet is a budgerigar – Melopsittacus undulatus – which live in huge flocks in the drier inland parts of Australia. Wikipedia tells me that there is a population established in Florida. Which is interesting, given the huge numbers that must have escaped from captivity all over the world. I expect they must have more exacting habitat requirements than the other parakeet species which have become established in the wild much more commonly.

    2. This brings back a memory from when I was a kid. My father was out fishing in the woods in rural New England, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, when a bright blue parakeet landed on the end of his fishing pole. He caught it in a paper bag and brought it home, and it did indeed live a long life.

  3. The swordtail pattern variation is interesting. Are the fish adapting with protective coloration to different backgrounds, like grassy stream margins and sandy places. Or could it be an absence of predation letting them vary “as they please”, or something else?

    1. I have read that colour, murky-ness, that is, light absorption qualities of the water can play a role IIRC in colour markings in fresh water species. Mainly (the obvious) mate identification and possibly territorial claims.

  4. This was a terrific assortment, thanks for the substantial submission! I especially enjoyed the tortoise photos and I’m glad they’re protected.

  5. I normally do not check out the comments section for wildlife photos. But I was so impressed by your photos I read the comments. Sure enough, there were many people who also enjoyed your photos. Keep up the good work and I look forward to the next time you submit pics for our enjoyment and education.

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