We have two contributions today: plants and ducks. Let’s take the ducks first. All readers’ captions are indented, and can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
The first trio comes from evolutionist and ornithology expert Bruce Lyon of UC Santa Cruz, who’s just returned from Argentina and has great photo to come. These, however, come from his home town in California.
Since you love ducks, I will attach a couple of recent photos. I was trying to get photos of wood ducks at a wetland in town (sewage processing area) but the wood ducks were hanging out where the sewage is actually processed, so I struck out. There was, however a confident Northern Pintail [Anas acuta] that swam up to me to check me out. Every time I photograph a new species of duck and then examine the photos closely, I am shocked by the exquisite plumage details that are not apparent when looking through binoculars. The pintail was no exception and had lovely vermiculation on the sides and back, and the long, elegant scapular feathers coming off the back were particularly beautiful. In some light, the brown on the head turns copper or even greenish.
And some flowers from Rik Gern:
Here’s a small batch of pictures I hope you can use for your Readers’ Wildlife feature. To photograph these specimens I had to leave my home, travel a whole six feet from the front door, and then lower my elevation by about another six feet and lie on my belly. I know, I know, it’s a hell of an expedition, but these are the things one does for beauty!
At any rate, the specimen in question is a tiny yellow flower known as a Lawnflower or Straggler Daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis). The flowers are small enough that you could fit several on the nail of your little finger. They’re pretty common here in Central Texas and are considered a weed, although I don’t know anyone who tries to get rid of them, as they look nice and feel good underfoot for those who like to go barefoot. In fact, they’re the perfect excuse for avoiding yard work; I’d feel like a war criminal if I chopped these pretty little flowers down!