Readers’ wildlife photos

November 17, 2022 • 8:15 am

Today we’ll finish off the photos sent in by Kira Heller (her photos of bears in Alaska are here). Her notes and IDs are indented, and you can click the photos to enlarge them. Readers can identify the lizard and duck shown.

These photos were taken by Ephraim Heller, and I am sharing them with his permission.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) hunting and catching an eel/fish in Half Moon Bay, CA

A lizard on my walking path in San Jose, CA:

Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) in Alaska. Chicks move from parent to parent as they float on the river.  I count 39 with this parent:

Merganser chicks ride on the backs of adults. Alaska:

Kestrels (Falco sparverius). Wyoming:

Ptarmigan (Lagopus sp.?) in summer plumage. Alaska.

Sea otter (Enhydra lutris). Alaska:

Orca (Orcinus orca) breaching. Alaska:

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) warming themselves in the sun on ice floes at the foot of a glacier:

Puffins (Fratercula corniculata and cirrhata). Alaska:

Duck taking off. I actually can’t identify this one from the photo. Grand Teton National Park:

Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). I think. GTNP:

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) enjoying a tasty rodent snack. GTNP.

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) GTNP.

18 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. The lizard is an alligator lizard. Could be Elgaria coelureus or E. multicarinatus, I’m not familiar enough with the genus to distinguish between them.

        1. Yes, I was bit by one as a kid when I made the poor judgment of catching it. Ouch! Drew blood. Dropped that sucker in an instant.

  2. I could be wrong (I’m a neophyte bird watcher), but the duck taking off from the water in the Grand Tetons looks like a female Eider (Somateria mollissima).

      1. Yes I agree. Eider are also strictly marine species so would not be found in Grand Teton. Female cinnamon teal is the best suggestion for this bird I think.

  3. What a wide ranging set!
    I can no longer see pictures of puffins without the Ze Frank song popping up in my head.

  4. These are super photos.

    The duck taking off is either a Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) or a Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). Other than males in breeding plumage, which are distinctive, these two species are very similar and hard to tell apart. I found a bird list for Grand Teton, which stated that Blue-winged are uncommon, so the probabilities favour Cinnamon. This is a western speciality and I’m in the East, so unfortunately I’m not very familiar with it.

    I don’t think red-tailed hawks are ever that streaky! I believe it’s a Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni).

    For what it’s worth, I think the ptarmigan is a Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus). Since I’ve never seen a ptarmigan, you can take that with a grain of salt.

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