Readers’ wildlife photos

May 29, 2023 • 8:15 am

Please send in your good wildlife photos lest the feature become sporadic or—Ceiling Cat forbid—go extinct.

Today we have some nice photos by reader Mark Sturtevant; his captions are indented, and you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.


This looks to be the last batch of WEIT-worthy pictures that I have from 2021.

First up are some of my favorite dragonflies, starting with the impressive royal river cruiser dragonfly (Macromia taeniolata). These are among the largest dragonflies in my area, but I am fortunate in that they are also among the most approachable. Sure, they will fly at break-neck speed as they patrol along a tree-line, as this one was, but then they hang themselves up at about eye-level, and there they sits. You may then take all the pictures you want, even at close range, and they don’t mind. The link to this species gives an idea about their size and approachability.

Next is our black saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerate). Common in fields, but unlike most dragons in the skimmer family who do more perching than flying, these will fly all day, effortlessly cruising around on those overly-broad wings. But occasionally one will give me a gift by sitting on a perch as this one was at a pond near where I work. So I like them because they play hard to get.

At another park there are redbud trees, and late in the season I noticed that just about every leaf was fastened shut as shown here. What was the surprise inside?

Why, a whimsical caterpillar! A squirmy little Dr. Seussian sock. In olden times, finding an ID of something like this would be a great tedium, but now we have the BugGuide web site. A simple search in there for “caterpillar on redbud”, and immediately we learn that this is the redbud leaffolder, Fascista cercerisella.

One might think that a “March fly” would be a spring insect, but actually members of this family have several generations a year, and they emerge synchronously in large numbers. One day in November just about every leaf along a forest trail had at least one of these odd little flies. They are also known as “love bugs”, as they are often seen mating. This particular species is Bibio albipennis.

I try to carry my wide-angle macro lens when I go out, but I seldom find a scene that will work with it. Here I managed to get a picture among a group of unknown mushrooms. Sorry, I don’t know the species.

One day the wife brought home a Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). A friend from down the street was visiting, and she had never seen one having a meal so I brought in a fly, slightly stunned it, and placed it as shown. As is well known, the trap is sprung if the hairs inside are triggered more than once. Our friend was pleasingly horrified at the sight of botanical carnivory.

13 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. What beautiful photos. The name ‘Royal river cruiser’ is just right for that stately creature!

  2. Could be Lepiota procera mushrooms, known as parasol mushrooms. No ring around stem, tall straight stalk, whitish gills. Not amanita since there is no ring so probably not poisonous. One of the most delicious mushrooms, never wormy or mushy or damp. Dip cap in egg and breadcrumbs and fry. Nutty flavor. (Note: avoid green gilled Lepiota: poisonous). Usually solitary, not in groups, sadly. So you usually only find one at a time. Get a good mushroom ID book; David Arora is the most entertaining (Mushrooms Demystified).

      1. I do not think that those are parasol mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera). The cap is too small in proportion to the stem height and is too concave even for old specimens. Also old stems look slightly rough. Perhaps a related species? They grow in my garden, and I sent photos years ago that PCC(E) showed here.
        I agree that they are delicious: more strongly flavoured than commercial mushrooms and with a hint of truffle.

  3. “I brought in a fly, slightly stunned it, and placed it as shown.”

    How exactly do you do that?

  4. Very nice photos, thanks. Carnivorous plants are hard to keep. They always do well for a year or so, then tend to die off. I haven’t figured out the trick. Now I’ve just given up. Greenhouse grows anything else, just not carnivorous plants for more than a year. Hmpf.

  5. No need for this feature to disappear— Wildlife Wednesdays has a nice ring to it, and can be savored separately. and more leisurely than breaking news.

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