Readers’ wildlife photos

June 27, 2023 • 8:15 am

Tomorrow might be the last day for Readers’ Wildlife unless I get more submissions. Just sayin’.

Gregory Zolnerowich, an entomologist at Kansas State University, sent some pictures of a kayaking trip and associated sights. His narrative is indented and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Several of us spent three days kayaking and camping on the Current River and Eleven Point River in south-central Missouri. These are clear, spring-fed Ozark rivers often bounded by dolomite cliffs that date to the Ordovician. Forty-four miles of the Eleven Point River were designated as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1968, which means it is free of impoundments and is largely undeveloped. We saw bald eagles, assorted ducks and geese, mink, otters, raccoons (they would raid our camp at night), deer, turtles, frogs, and a great variety of insects.

The beds of the rivers are mostly rock and gravel, occasionally sand, with water that is clear in the shallow areas and then turns a lovely aquamarine in the deeper sections. I assume that color comes from dissolved minerals.

A lunch stop had butterflies puddling for entertainment. The top two are spicebush swallowtails (Papilio troilus) and the bottom two are pipevine swallowtails (Battus philenor). They were so engrossed in their activity I could get quite close. The small blue lycaenid butterfly was very skittish and would sometimes land on the swallowtails. Zebra swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus) were very common but too flighty to photograph.

I loved the way the plants would cling to the surface of the rocky cliffs. Water often was seeping and dripping from the faces of the cliffs.

This stag beetle (Lucanidae) ambled by.

The rivers often had long shoals or rapids which made for a nice ride.

Cave Spring at the base of a cliff on the Current River is a popular stop for people.

This large water wheel, 25 feet in diameter, is all that is left of Turner Mill, which is situated a short distance below Turner Spring along the Eleven Point River.

Turner Spring is one of the smaller springs that feeds the river and averages 1.5 million gallons of water per day.

This should be a sanddragon in the genus Progomphus (Gomphidae), but I’m not sure of the species.

It was pretty docile and rode on my finger for a few minutes.

Boze Mill Spring is about 150 yards from the Eleven Point River, it is a large chasm that discharges 12-14 million gallons of water per day.

The outflow from Boze Mill Spring just before it meets the Eleven Point River. The water was quite cold.

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. An interesting and informative narration along with great pictures! Thanks for taking the time to send.

  2. Totally cool! I would like to visit that area, especially since Zebra Swallowtails are on my list of critters to photograph.
    The dragonfly is rather special. It is called the Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus), and it is our largest club tail dragonfly. The common name refers to its predilection for preying on other dragonflies. But they can seem friendly to humans. I’ve had one land on my monopod and just sit there, and I thought my heart might stop.

    1. Thank you for the correct ID. That’s why I’m usually pretty hesitant to identify something from a photograph.

  3. Lovely habitat. The blue-green colour of the water probably comes from a suspension of fine calcium carbonate particles (or perhaps calcium magnesium carbonate from the dolomite), which tends to reflect the green-blue part of the spectrum more than the red. It is particularly prevalent when glaciers feed rivers with “rock flour”, which starts to turn rivers milky in large quantities.

    1. The milky colour of glacial meltwater is due to finely-divided silicate minerals, pretty much regardless of chemistry. You see the same colour on glaciers in Iceland (essentially basaltic bedrock, with negligible carbonate minerals in the hinterland) as draining mixed sediments (including carbonate minerals) in the Himalayas, Rockies etc.
      The blue-greenness of the water probably speaks more to an absence of tannins in the hinterland than a particular dissolved mineral. If you look at water draining from the Great Scar Limestone (Britain’s most prolific cave-perforated rock unit, probably) it is very rare to see “gin clear” water compared to peat-stained water.
      Within the cave diving fraternity, it is a common observation that you’ll see layers of tannin-soaked “peaty” sump water above (or below) layers of “gin clear” sump water. It has provoked considerable reportage, because if (IF) it is consistent within a sump, such effects might be a guide to where water from different source areas is entering the human-navigable parts of the sump system. Which could suggest where Caverns Measureless To Man might be found – which is why we do the palaver with the bottles and gags. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is unpredictable and inconsistent, and TTBOMK nobody has successfully used it as a guide to even one Xanadu, or even an Alph of new cave passage. So, it’s back to regular techniques, such as dismantling collapsed boulders from below, at the end of a km-long dive.

  4. I felt relaxed going down the river with you; looks like a blast. Thanks for the great photos and commentary.

  5. Thanks, Greg. Brings back memories from my youth. In 1969, wife and friends and I floated (canoes) on the Current, the Black, and the Jacks Fork. Following year we left Mo. forever.
    —Joe on Oahu

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *