Readers’ wildlife photos

April 18, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today’s set of photos, comprising birds and arthropods, comes from reader Chris Taylor in Australia. Chris’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them,

Here’s another set of photographs, again, all taken on my property near Canberra.

We’re past high summer here, although you wouldn’t know it because it’s been unusually cool and wet.  In fact, one of the wettest Novembers on record. This means that the spring grasses have grown so tall that the ewes and lambs often disappear from view!

But this has been a good year for the wildlife around here. The Welcome Swallows and Willie Wagtail (photos were in a post last month) have successfully raised three young each. Now the Black-faced Cuckooshrikes (Coracina novaehollandiae) have been kept busy going backwards and forwards to a nest in the poplar trees. Australasian grebes (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) built a floating nest on one of the dams, and they have four stripy young.  The young were quite accomplished swimmers even straight after hatching. They will dive under the surface at the first close approach, only to resurface amongst the reeds.

Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae):

Australasian grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae):

Australasian grebe youngster:

There has also been a family of Maned Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata) on the house dam. They started off with nine ducklings, and have successfully raised six of them to adulthood. The photograph is of the two adults and five of the young, but also includes two interlopers, a pair of Grey Teal (Anas gracilis) identified by their longer bills.

Maned wood ducks (Chenonetta jubata) and gray Teal (Anas gracilis):

I have had to be especially careful to isolate myself on my farm during the latest Covid outbreaks, but this has meant that I’ve had the time to investigate some of the smaller denizens.

The first group I noticed were the dragonflies and damselflies that live on my farm dams. I knew that they were around, but did not realise that there was such variety within such a small area. I first spotted them by noticing the intense blue spots on a couple of the species, and started to search for them.  I spoke to a friend about this, and she immediately found the key to the Australian Odonata and sent it to me – all 270 pages of it! Here are photographs of some of the species that I found; there are others that I have not been able to photograph or identify yet.  Most of these I am confident with the identification, less so for one or two.

Aurora BluetailIschnura aurora. This is the smallest of the damselflies, its total length is about 20 mm. It flies quite slowly through the Juncus reeds, the blue spot at the end of its abdomen glowing brightly.  It’s not until you get close that you really see the bright colours on its thorax.  One photograph is of a male, the other of a mating pair, the male is clasping the female behind the head.


Common bluetail, Ischnura heterosticta,  35mm. Bigger and faster than the aurora, but with a similar glowing blue spot

Wandering RingtailAustrolestes leda, 35mm. Female:

Inland Ringtail, Austrolestes aridus, 35mm. Female:

Blue RingtailAustrolestes annulosus, 35mm:

Blue SkimmerOrthetrum caledonicum at 65mm one of  the biggest of the Odonata here, and a powerful flyer, hawking for prey over the surface of the dam:

Finally, two of the other dwellers in the reeds.  First, a Crane Fly, Ischnotoma rubriventris. overall 50 mm, body 15mm:

A Long-Jawed SpiderTetragnatha sp. 15mm.

6 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Great stuff! You do have the second and third largest dragonflies in the world. These are the giant petaltail and the coastal petaltail. Petaltails prefer boggy habitats, and unlike many of the big dragons, they don’t generally fly for extended periods so they are easy to photograph.

  2. This is a nice group. I like watching dragonflies and damselflies, but I haven’t had much success at getting decent pictures of them, especially the little guys!

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