Readers’ wildlife photos

October 18, 2021 • 8:15 am

Today we have a set of lovely and impressive landscape (mountain) photos by James Blilie, an erstwhile climber. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

This set are landscape photos of mine with the theme being mountaineering. These are older, from the 1980s, when I was younger, wilder, and had better knee joints. All are scanned Kodachrome 64 slides.  At this time, I always climbed with a camera around my neck and shoulder, usually with a Pentax M 20mm f/4 lens attached.  I scrapped the manufacturer’s camera strap and tied on climber’s webbing instead.
First is a view of climbers on the Redoubt Glacier, below Mt. Redoubt (Washington Cascades). September 1985.  We climbed Mt. Redoubt the day before this photo was taken, in terrible weather:  You couldn’t see further than about 100 feet due to clouds/mist.  Mt. Redoubt is one of the most remote peaks I have climbed.  The trek in was harder than the climb.

Next is a view of the valley of the Sauk River and the Central Cascade Range on a winter ascent of Whitehorse Mountain in February 1986, at sunrise.

Next are a few photos from a trip I took in August 1986 to do the Ptarmigan Traverse with a group of climbing friends.  This was a spectacular trip:  A high-elevation trip through a segment of the North Cascades.  First, two climbers on the airy summit ridge of Dome Peak.

Then a group of climbers traversing the summit ridge of Magic Mountain:

Then, descending towards a camping site at Yang Yang Lakes:

Next is a shot of some friends climbing the last icy ledges of McClellan Butte in the Cascades, near Seattle.  At this time, a group of friends and I would make a climb on the winter solstice every December.  Expect bad weather!  21-Dec-1986.

Next are two photos from a May 1987 trip to climb Mt. McKinley (then, now officially Denali)—20,310 feet (6,190 m).

The first a view of Mt. Foraker (17,400-foot; 5,304 m) from the Kahiltna Glacier with a Cessna 185 operated by K2 Aviation out of Talkeetna, Alaska, visible against the mountain, lower right. (We did not summit.  “Worst May weather since 1960-something.”  It never went above 0°F (-18°C) the entire time we were on the mountain – two and a half weeks.)

Then a photo looking north towards the summit of McKinley from the Kahiltna Glacier, near the airplane landing spot, just outside the National Park boundary.

Next are two photos from a climb on the Olympic Peninsula near Seattle, a peak called C-141 peak, named because a military C-141 airplane crashed into it.  This was a late winter climb in April 1987, which was training for our Mt. McKinley attempt.  First one looks SE from the high ridge showing Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier in the distance.

The next shows the summit area of peak C-141, with a climber like a tiny speck in the small col, left center:

Next shot shows the middle and south peaks of Three Fingers in the central Cascades. This was taken in October 1988 during an ascent of the north peak of Three Fingers. A climber is in the foreground.  You can see the old fire lookout on the south peak of Three Fingers, upper right.

Finally, getting out of North America, we have a shot of Mt. Kenya from the west, showing the main peaks of Batian and Nelion and the Diamond Glacier nestled between them.  August 1991. The icefall below the Diamond Glacier, the Diamond Glacier Couloir is regularly climbed.

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 11, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good photos, as the tank is depleting faster than I’d like. Thanks.

Today we have a potpourri of photos from various readers and contributors. Their captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

The first photo is by Jamie Blilie:

Winter plumage American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) in the middle of a snowstorm.  Taken Dec 23, 2020, in a tree in our back yard, Minnesota.  We have many winter resident birds.  We have many feeders in our yard to help them through the winter (we feed much less in summer).

Reader Bryan found slugs making The Beast with Two Backs in Middlesex County, Massachusetts:

I saw this the other day (cool fall day in N. hemisphere).Reading a bit tells me it is gastropod copulation involving Spanish slugs, Arion vulgaris.  It was satisfying to know I stumbled (figuratively!) on a fascinating biology topic.

From Thomas Czarny, sent September 8:

Yesterday an epic line storm coming across Lake Michigan slammed into the Traverse City, MI area causing widespread wind, rain and hail damage.  Below is a sequence of photos of the advancing front as it swept inland from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline.  Only the first one is my photo, the rest are from friends and other local sources.  At last report the Cherry Hut in Beulah is still intact.🍒

From Divy:

 We went to the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali a couple of years ago.  If I remember correctly, this was a tourist conservation, owned by the local community.  There were several Hindu temples within the forest which were closed-off to the public; only the monkeys could enter. I believe these were Balinese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis).

Reader Reese sent in some photos he got from a friend who tends ducks in a pond by his house. I’m going to show these photos to Honey.

From my friend John Williamson who feeds ducks and other wildlife on a resaca in Brownsville, Texas.  I hope some of your pals are planning on wintering there.  His house backs up to Town Resaca (which appears to be a body of water that goes nowhere) in Brownsville, not far from the Gladys Porter Zoo.  I attach a few more photos so your ducks have a better idea of the winter spa awaiting them:

Note that he has built a duck-feeding platform (and also a Buddha platform).

Nutria (rodents also known as coypu; Myocaster coypus) also appreciate the duck corn.  There also seem to be duck pellets:

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 2, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send those photos in, please! We’re running low. Before we start, can anyone identify this raptor that perched over Botany Pond yesterday? The ducks were upset, quacked, and then formed a pack in the pond and remained very still. I took a photo, but it was hard because the bird was high up in a tree above the pond. So far we’ve never had a raptor attack a duck or duckling, but the adults still get freaked out when they see one.

Today we have a melange of California photos from Joe Dickinson. Joe’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These are from a recent trip to the Tomales Bay/Point Reyes area.  

We were visited this time by a turkey vulture (Cathartes aura).  I believe the sunning of wings has to do with reducing parasite load, rather than drying the wings as cormorants do.

These photos of a fishing shack give some sense of the range of tides.

Nearby is the Point Reyes National Elk refuge with a nice population of Tule Elk (Cervus canadensis).

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) also are found within the refuge as well as elsewhere on Point Reyes.

This moon jelly (probably genus Aurelia) actually is at a cabin on the other side of the bay where stayed a few years ago. 

Nearby is the Marshall Store, home of the best BBQ oysters on the planet. 

I call this the “Entropy Boat”.  We have watched it slowly decay over the years.

There is a very nice walk to Kehoe Beach with this freshwater lagoon alongside.  

Readers’ wildlife photos (and video)

August 28, 2021 • 8:00 am

Keep those photos coming in, people! Thanks.

Today’s photos and a bonus video, come from reader Jim McCormac, whose “massive photo website” is here and whose blog is here. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Here’s some stuff from a recent West Virginia trip, most notably perhaps, bumblebees caught in the act of pollinating one of the bottle gentians.

Sunrise at Bear Rocks at Dolly Sods, West Virginia. I was at a conference in the nearby Canaan Valley recently, and tacked on time to visit this amazing mountaintop on August 22.

Although I saw no bears at Bear Rocks, I did see this beautiful American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in the Canaan Valley. Bears in this region tend to be quite wary, as they are hunted (seasonally), and people train their dogs using bears year-round. I spotted this one a ways off, was able to get in a good position for photos as he approached, but as soon as he made me, he quickly disappeared into the forest.

A tough Red Spruce (Picea rubens) ekes out an existence at Dolly Sods. Strong prevailing winds from the west, often accelerating to gale force, pound the trees relentlessly and those that are prominently exposed exhibit one-sided branching. This is known as the Krummholz Effect (German = “twisted wood”). Branches on the upwind side are stunted by the constant strong winds.

Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) still had some flowers, but mostly had passed to the fruiting stage. This elegant member of the Evening-primrose Family (Onagraceae) is one of the most photographed wildflowers of northern and montane habitats, where it can form breathtakingly large colonies.

Long-fruited Sedge (Carex folliculata) with its distinctive elongate fruit (in sedge-speak, the fruit are termed perigynia). In my neck of the woods – flatland Ohio – this species is absent and it was a treat to see it again. Long-fruited Sedge is a northerner, extending southward at higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains.

Glimmering dewdrops of death adorn the specialized hairs of Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) leaves. I saw many of these plants in a bog at Dolly Sods. The sticky droplets lure small insects, who are stuck fast in the viscid liquid. This triggers a reaction in the leaf, which slowly enfolds the victim. After extracting nutrients from the insect, leaving a desiccated husk, the leaf unfurls and is ready for more action. This carnivory is an adaptation for life in nutrient-deficient bog substrates.

A botanical highlight of Dolly Sods was a colony of Narrow-leaved Gentian (Gentiana linearis). It is another northerner whose range extends southward in the Appalachians at higher elevations. Dolly Sods is near its southern limits. As it was the first time that I had clapped eyes on this species, I was particularly pleased to encounter the beautiful gentian.

It got even better when I saw that numerous bumblebees were seeking nectar at the odd flowers. This group of “bottle” gentians are primarily if not exclusively pollinated by large bumblebees in the genus Bombus (I think the one in the photo is the Common Eastern Bumblebee, B. impatiens). The blue petals are fused together forming a tube, with a small opening at the summit. Colorful stripes acting as nectar guides adorn the interior of the flower, and while we cannot see them, the bees certainly do.

The following video shows bumblebees working a flower cluster. Once a bee spots the internal nectar guides, it works hard to enter the flower. Experienced bees quickly push their way in via the small pore at the flower’s summit, but it takes a powerful insect to open this “door” and gain access. Naive, young bees (presumably) will literally bumble about the flower’s exterior, seemingly baffled as to how to gain entrance. I saw this behavior several times. But once they have figured it out, they too quickly tap the nectar at the flower’s base and in the process provide pollination services.

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 21, 2021 • 8:00 am

PLEASE send in your wildlife photos, as I have only a few days’ worth before I run out. You wouldn’t want that to happen, do you? Please make sure they’re good pics, of the quality that we see on this feature.

Today we have a melange of photos from several readers. Their captions are indented and you can enlarge their photos by clicking on them.

First, a yellow garden spider from Killian Sharp:

Argiope aurantia was just relaxing in its web amongst my friend’s tomato plants in SW Ontario.

From Julia Sculthorpe:

I have been taking pictures of wildlife in the various wildlife refuges in the Denver metro area. These were taken in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

The dragonfly and toad blend into their surroundings. The toad was very hard to photograph as he jumped at  almost any moment I made.


Can you spot the toad and dragonfly (the insect is easier)?

From Laurie Berg:

Immature eagle with former mouse

From Rachel Sperling:

I was saving this photo for when I had more to share, but I saw your request this morning. I’m pretty sure this is a dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus). I encountered it on the New York section of the Appalachian Trail earlier this month. In addition to insects (not sure what type of beetle this one has caught) larger ones are able to catch fish. According to Wikipedia, their bodies are covered with hydrophobic hairs that allow them to run on water (suck it, Jesus). When they submerge, the air trapped in these hairs becomes a thin film, allowing them to breathe underwater; the air makes them quite buoyant, so they have to hold onto a twig or a rock in order to stay submerged. I think they’re really cool.

Also sharing a photo I took last night of the ALMOST full strawberry moon. This is from a park in Meriden, Connecticut, which has a lovely ridge that offers views to the east and west. This was taken around 8:30.

Readers’ wildlife photos

July 27, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos are from New Zealand and taken by Chris Taylor. The captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

In response to your request I’ve been looking through my photos for some you might be able to use.  To start off with, here’s a set of photos from New Zealand, from a trip I made to the North Island a few years ago.

First, a panorama of the active volcano Mt Tongariro.  It looks peaceful enough, but you can see steam issuing from two vents in the volcano’s slopes.

New Zealand Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus). Also known by its Maori nameof Tuturiwhat.

New Zealand Pigeon or Kereru, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae:

Grey Duck or Pārera, Anas superciliosa.  Although known in Australia as the Pacific Black Duck and Grey Duck in New Zealand, there is almost no black in the plumage.  It is very closely related to the Mallard, and will interbreed with introduced birds.

Red Billed Gull or tarāpung, Larus novaehollandiae.Also called Pacific Silver gull in Australia.

Pied Stilt or Koaka , Himantopus himantopus . Two photos taken at the Hell’s Gate Thermal area near Rotorua.The birds were feeding in the warm water of the springs, and it was a couple of minutes before I saw the chicks – they were quite camouflaged against the volcanic rocks!

Can you spot the chicks?


Pohutukawa treeMetrosideros excelsa.

Photos from the Pūkorokoro / Miranda shorebird reserve.  Flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit/Kuaka Limosa lapponica , Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Wrybill/Ngutuparore Anarhynchus frontalis and others.  I was there at low tide, not the best time to see the birds!  This is looking out across the flats and the Firth of Thames to the hills of the Coromandel Peninsular.   This is a vital area for many of the migrant species that arrive in New Zealand, as they can feed here to build up their bodies after the rigors of their flight.  The Bar-Tailed Godwit or Kuaka is the world champion when it comes to migration, traveling from NZ to Alaska and back each year.  The Northward flight usually goes via Indonesia and China, but the southward return to Pūkorokoro is often done non-stop.  Last year, one bird known as 4BBRW, was fitted with a tracker and was observed to make a 12,050km non-stop flight.

Silver Fern, Alsophila dealbata, in Rotorua.  One of the Floral Emblems of New Zealand.

House Sparrow, Passer domesticus.  Introduced by the British after colonisation.  This one was flying around as we sat having coffee at a cafe in Whitianga.

Tui, Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae:

Readers’ wildlife photos

July 23, 2021 • 8:00 am

Our tank is running low, and I’m afraid we’re down to readers who sent in one or a few photos. That’s fine, but I must group them together, as I will today. Please send in your batches (10-15 if possible) of good wildlife photos.  This is an urgent call for photos!

Contributors’ captions and IDs are indented; you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

First up is reader Michael Hart, with two photos.

My wife’s stargazer lilies (Lilium sp. hybrid) went wild this year. It has been hot here in Vancouver – I guess lilies must like the heat. This one (photographed at night) is >2 meters tall.

It took a couple weeks, but the flowers have finally been colonized by crab spiders. This may be Misumena vatia, but I’m not sure because it lacks the pink racing stripes on the opisthosoma that I see in some of the field guides. Maybe others will know the ID.

It costs me a lot to look up these spiders because I have a bad phobia. I like these little thomisids and the salticids, but I have to skip over the photos of the big hunting spiders. There is something about the size of my hand that lives in one of the boxes of garden tools (probably one of the Eratigena species), and I’m staying away from it. We found a dead mouse in that box last spring, and I’m concerned that spider has developed a taste for mammals.

From Larry LeClair:

As requested, I send photos of four fledgling Eastern Screech-Owls (Megascops asio) taken last week in a neighbor’s maple tree in Hamilton, NY.

From Robert Placier:

Long-time follower of your website, and finally heeding your call for photos. But I’m not very good at it: all these pics taken with my Android phone. I am, like you, retired from teaching. But for me, I was at a 2-year technical college, Hocking College, in Appalachian southeastern Ohio. Essentially a forest ecologist, I taught Dendrology and Ornithology in my last years to wildlife and interpretive naturalist students. I am a bird bander, so all bird photos are from my operations, mostly at my home, which I call the Palatial Woodland Estate. So here are a few, all from SE Ohio.

A photo from my home area, just outside Chillicothe. This is a view of the Paint Creek gorge, formed during the last glaciation. Ross County is where the glacial advance terminated. The ice blocked drainage of Paint Creek, forming a lake which spilled over a low spot in the hills. Virginia Pines (Pinus virginiana) frame the view, and Eastern Hemlocks are found in the gorge below this cliff.

Because of the heavily forested (>70%) nature of my home area, Vinton County, and my banding birds coming to feeders through the winter, I band more Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) than any other bander in central North America (2-4 per year, nearly 30 since 2009). They are tough to hold with one hand, and I work alone, so this is as good a photo as I can produce. And they often bloody my hands—I think a peck wound is visible in this photo. And I do recapture ones I have banded: the longest span between banding and recapture is about eight years.

I band a lot of Wood Thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina) here, some years over 100, during my Spring and Fall migration banding seasons. The total is over 1,000 since I began banding in 2006. They are regular nesters on my eleven forested acres, and I catch ones each Spring that have returned from their winter (here) sojourn in Central America.

A woodland species that has notably increased on my “estate” since coming here in 2005 is American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). And my understanding is that Wood Thrushes feed on the bright red fruit of this species, and are an important seed disperser. Perhaps some of the other thrushes, common migrants here, also play a part in dispersal.

Readers’ wildlife photos

July 5, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your photos, please; I can always use more.

Today sees the welcome return of Stephen Barnard of Idaho, who sends us a potpourri of photos. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

When I drove down my driveway about an hour ago, I spooked a cow moose and twin calves [Alces alces]. They went into the creek where the twins started nursing. Later, they came back in the yard to check out the sprinklers, which were tempting in 92F heat. Crazy.

Moose twins (very frisky):

Barn swallow [Hirundo rustica]:

Western kingbird [Tyrannus verticalis]:

Sunset landscape:

Readers’ wildlife photos

June 30, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from Charles Schwing, whose captions and IDs are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Here are some game camera pictures of the larger predators photographed at the Archer Taylor Preserve in the western hills above the city of Napa, CA. The picture below shows most of the approximately 400 acres in the Preserve. Caretakers live in the residences at the bottom left and to the right of center.

Above is before the 2017 fires, below is afterward.

The largest predator we’ve caught on camera is an American black bear (Ursus americanus). We suspect the bear is not resident. We get photos only occasionally – once or twice a year.

Not far behind the black bear in size and seen much more frequently (on camera, virtually never in person) is Puma concolor, locally called mountain lion or puma and panther or catamount in other parts of the country.

In the last year or so we have found pictures of two different families. The collared puma (Puma concolor, also called a “cougar”) is P4 (see this very informative site). The uncollared female and her offspring have been showing up frequently enough that we suspect their territories overlap in the vicinity of the Preserve.

The charred trees in the background are what much of the Preserve looks like 3.5 years after the Nuns fire swept through in October 2017.

None of the other predators are nearly as large. Shown are coyote (Canis latrans), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus).

Readers’ wildlife photos

June 26, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good wildlife/street/travel photos, as I’m getting nervous again (or rather, I’m always nervous):

Today’s photos come from Matt Young, one of the founders of the excellent pro-evolution website Panda’s Thumb.  His notes and captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.


Pursuant to your request for nature photographs, here is a baker’s half-dozen that I sent to Science in honor of Nature Photography Day. I have some text that goes with them.

Additionally, could I interest you in announcing the 13th annual Panda’s Thumb Photography Contest, here?

For my 80th birthday, my son gathered some of my “favorite” pictures on some pretext or other, and presented me with a splendid casebound book, cleverly formatted with quotations, mostly by photographers. These are some of the pictures that I chose.

American avocet, Recurvirostra americana, Cottonwood Lake, Boulder, Colorado. This one was just standing there, begging to be photographed, as I biked past.

Orange meadowhawk, Sympetrum spp., Elmer’s Two-Mile Creek, Boulder, Colorado. Dragonflies are a dream to photograph, because they often return to roost in the same spot.

Rainbow Bridge,, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, just off Lake Powell.

Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon near Page, Arizona, on Navajo land. I took a guided tour (the only way you can see it) and was lucky to get a couple of halfway decent pictures despite the darkness and the guide always at my heels.

Crepuscular rays, Niwot, Colorado. In this picture, you can see clearly that the rays are formed by atmospheric scattering, where the irregularities in the clouds are essentially projected onto the atmosphere. Also, every cloud has a silver lining (sometimes gold).

Painted turtleChrysemys picta, Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado. This is the western variant, at roughly its westernmost extreme, yet you can see many of them sunning themselves in Duck Pond every year.

Eclipse of the sun, Jackson, Wyoming, August 21, 2017.

And, finally, a mite too late for the book, an eclipse of the moon, just before sunrise on May 28, 2021. The moon was not visible after totality because of the brightening sky and set soon after.