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.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 21, 2021 • 8:00 am

Here are some travel photos by Joe Dickinson. You can enlarge them by clicking on them, and Joe’s captions are indented.

Here is a second set of my favorite photos.

This is a diverse collection of cacti in Baja California.  I can’t identify the species.

This is a campsite in Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, with my wife and our dog, Ruby.  We purchased the camper van when I retired in 2002 and passed it along to her brother-in-law just a few months ago.

Oregon coast near Canon Beach:

The Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles:

Our Granddaughter, Erin, on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  I always imagine her saying “I hereby claim this land in the name of…”  We just attended her high school graduation.  Time flies.

My wife and I on the stairs down to Point Reyes Light.

Kolob Canyon in the redrock area of southern Utah, winter.

Multnomah Falls along the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge.  We plan to cruise that canyon in a few months.

A personal indulgence if I may.  I am an amateur horn player and had just received a replica of an early 19th century horn of the type that Mozart and Beethoven wrote for, pictured with some typical music written for horns in that style.  The smaller circle is one of a set of interchangeable “crooks” that put the horn into different keys.

Another shot along the Oregon coast, near Coos Bay, I think.

Our dog, Ruby, in deep snow at a cabin we had in the Wasatch mountains near Salt Lake City.  She had, shall we say, an unfortunate affinity for snow.

Finally, a view from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley. [JAC: I spent a lot of time in this locality while collecting and releasing flies in California, and there’s a movie called “Zabriskie Point” filmed by Antonioni in 1969. It’s not a very good movie.]

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 8, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we finish up the last third of Stephen Barnard’s photos sent from his ranch in Idaho. His captions are indented and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them. The title is “Mammals and lanscapes.”

Moose (Alces alces). A cow and two yearling calves in my back yard.

A trio of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) cruising downstream, making good time, in early morning light. They probably just decimated the rainbow trout spawning upstream.

Some landscapes. The first two are iPhone 12 photos. The last was made with the pano feature and blew my mind.

Readers’ wildlife photos

April 27, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from reader James Blilie, whose notes and captions are indented. You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These are my photos from 1981 and 2006.

I keeping with the theme theme, I call this set “close encounters”. All are taken in the Rocky Mountains of North America and all are close encounters with wildlife found there.  I’m not really a wildlife photographer.  These were just lucky encounters while hiking and backpacking in the parks.

None of these photos are taken with a telephoto lens.  Every one in the first batch from the Canadian Rockies was taken with a 50mm lens (“normal lens”) on 35mm Kodachrome 64 film. Of the second batch, one is even taken with a wide-angle lens.

First, from Jasper and Banff National Parks and Mount Robson Provincial Park, in September 1981, a series of scanned Kodachrome images.  September seems like a spectacular time to view wildlife in these vast and beautiful parks.  (Equipment:  Pentax K-1000 or ME-Super and Pentax M 50 mm f/2.0 lens)

A bull elk (Cervus canadensis):

Next, a large group of stone sheep (Ovis dalli stonei), you can see the proximity to the road.

Next, a series of my friend and I photographing a group of Mountain Goats (Oreamnos americanus) (These are neither goats nor sheep of course.)  We saw this group of goats and sat down in the direction they were traveling and they walked right past us.  My friend was lucky to encounter a curious youth.

Next a bull moose (Alces alces).  I can’t recommend getting close to these; and in northern Minnesota I’ve been aggressively threatened by them  Luckily in those cases, I was in a canoe and they were unable to approach us!

Finally from the Canadian Rockies, a couple of views of what the local scenery looks like.

Bow Lake with moonrise.

And spectacular Mount Robson from the shore of Berg Lake.

Next are a few from our (USA) northern Rocky park:  Glacier National Park, in 2006, when my son Jamie was 2 years old.  He could hike with us even then!  (Equipment: Pentax *ist DSLR and some entry-level lenses.  I hadn’t really converted to digital at this point.  I’m a late-adopter.)

The first two are another close encounter with a Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus). We were sitting eating our lunch and a group walked past, including this large male:

Finally, another scenic view from Glacier National Park.  This is on the Sunrift Gorge Hike.

My scanner is an Epson V-500 perfection photo scanner (current version is the V-600), which I can highly recommend.  A good film dust brush is a key accessory.  And good software to adjust the images and spot out dust that the brush didn’t get.

Readers’ wildlife photos

April 19, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your wildlife photos, please!

Today we have some lovely desert landscape pictures from reader Bob Fritz. Bob’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Some landscape and wildlife photos from Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.  Located about 50 miles north of Las Vegas, this park has much to offer for those who enjoy the desert.  The terrain is mostly red Aztec sandstone with grey and tan limestone.  The sandstone dates back to the Jurassic period when inland seas disappeared, leaving sand.

Arch Rock – this is a small arch but big enough for a person to stand under it.

Climbing these stairs takes one to a platform to view the Atlatl Rock petroglyphs.

Humans have occupied the Valley of Fire area for about 11,000 years.  The petroglyphs were created by the Basketmaker Culture about 2,500 years ago.
The petroglyphs depict an atlatl – a stick that provides extra leverage to throw a dart or spear.  The park hosts atlatl competitions.

The valley is home to Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni).

This fellow took an interest in me, but fortunately I was far away from him with my telephoto.

The Fire Wave is an amazing area with layers of rock swirling around.

More of the Fire Wave.

The Fire Wave after sunset.

The park lives up to its name at sunset, as the rock surfaces glow as if on fire.  This is a view of Gibraltar Rock from the trail to the Fire Wave.

The Narrows.

The Scream (with apologies to Munch).  This oddity is located next to the visitor center parking lot.

Silica Dome on the left.  This is the finest example in the park of a formation made of almost pure silica.  Star Trek fans might recognize this as the location where the climactic scene from the movie Star Trek Generations was filmed.  It is here that Kirk and Picard fought Soran as he attempted to get back into the Nexus.  And yes, (spoiler alert), this is the place where Captain Kirk dies.

Lastly, a very small cave – Windstone Arch.  You have to crawl to get inside – there is not enough room to stand up.
The strange erosion patterns in Windstone Arch cave.


Readers’ wildlife photos

March 18, 2021 • 8:00 am

I’m still not out of danger, so please send in your good photos.

Today’s photos are by Mark Richardson, and show some of the landscapes of Alaska. Mark’s notes and captions are indented; click on the photos to enlarge them. I’ve put a map of the area—the Kenai Peninsula—at the bottom.

Here are some landscape photos of wild Alaska. Most are self-explanatory as landscapes naturally are. I had a whimsy with one name…can you guess?
This was a trip to Alaska’s Kenai peninsula in 2004. The area is readily accessible by car (it’s about 4 hours from Anchorage)  and offers what the locals call “combat fishing”- fisherfolk elbow to elbow trying to catch spawning salmon. I must admit, it is some of the greatest salmon fishing I’ve ever encountered. But after a day of this angling mayhem, we took a plane out of Soldatna and flew for about an hour into the interior. This meant fewer people and even better fishing. These photos were taken on the flight to the secluded cabin and surrounding areas.

A wild coast aerial:

Alaska green aerial view:

Aerial view of a braided river:

Fangorn forest:

Portrait of morning fog:

Portrait with fireweed [Chamaenerion angustifolium]:

Portrait with fireweed 2:

Sea and cliff:

Aerial view of winding river:

The Kenai Peninsula:

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 17, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your photos!

Today we have more lovely landscapes from Peter Lindsay. His IDs and notes are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

In response to your call for photographs I am attaching a second batch of photographs I have made in my adopted home of south-western Manitoba.

The subject of the first four images are depression ponds and sloughs in different seasons. These bodies have no natural inlet; the water collects from the runoff from snow melt in the spring. During hot and dry summers they often completely disappear.

Hoar frost:

Lone trees don’t often fare that well on the prairies. The dead tree in the next image stands in the bottom of a depression which is frequently flooded in the spring and dry for most of the summer. It disappeared a few years ago; probably carried off by the waters during the spring flooding.

The next two images are of Quaking Aspen (Populous tremuloides), one of the most common trees of the aspen parkland region in the Prairie Provinces of Canada, as well as the extreme northwest Minnesota. They form clonal colonies with all trees sharing the same root structure. The colony in the first photo is on the very edge of  a large grazing field.  The second photo shows a colony of four trees. Did the rest of the colony die off, or is this the beginning of a new one?

The last three images show one of my favourite windbreaks, or shelterbelts, in western Manitoba. These trees originally served to hold moisture and prevent topsoil loss. They also offer some protection and nesting sites for birds. This windbreak, although somewhat deteriorated at one end, is over one kilometre long.