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.

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 5, 2021 • 8:00 am

I importune readers once again to send in their photos, as the tank inexorably drops.

Today we have some diverse landscape photos by reader James Blilie, including some great mountain-climbing shot. His notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These ones are landscape photos, sometimes including human figures.

First, a church doorway (St Bartholomew’s parish church) in Brightwell Baldwin, Oxfordshire, England. Also home to a fine pub:  The Lord Nelson (2015):

The next one is a climber resting on the easiest route up Mount Stuart in the Washington Cascade Range, 9,415 ft (2,870 m), a huge exposed block of granite.  I climbed this peak when I’d been living in Seattle only a few weeks (1984):

Then a view of Hell’s Canyon on the border of Idaho and Oregon.  1.5 times as deep as the Grand Canyon, though without the spectacular geology of the Grand Canyon (1987):

Next a view of the Isle of Hoy from Stromness, Orkney Islands (1992).  I was fascinated by the dry stone walls around around the UK.

Next is a view of Mount Foraker (17,400 ft (5304 m)) taken from the 14,000-foot camp on the West Buttress Route on Mount McKinley (now officially Denali).  We were attempting the peak and had the “worst weather since 1967” or something like that.  It never went above 0°F (-18°C) for the three weeks we were on the mountain (May, 1987).  The photo was taken at 2am – it never really gets dark in May at the latitude.

Next is a view of the Emperor Face of Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies (1981).  We hiked in to Berg Lake to camp.  Spectacular hike and location; but a long day of hiking uphill (and then down).  

Then a view of climbers moving onto the edge of the Sulphide Glacier on Mt. Shuksan in the North Cascades of Washington, 1985.

Next, a view of one of the large Fjords in western Norway (2012).  I’ve traveled pretty widely and I think the Norwegian Fjordlands are one of the most scenic places on Earth.

The next one shows my son Jamie on the “hiking” route up to a small chapel on a mountaintop in Seguret in the Vaucluse in France:  Notre Dame de Aubusson.  My wife said, “If you have to use your hands, it’s climbing, not hiking.”

The next one is a view of Sentinel Peak on the Ptarmigan Traverse in the North Cascades, 1986.  The shot is from Yang Yang Lakes.

Next is a view of St. Helen’s Passage, Oxford, England.  2015.  I was standing next to an outdoor table of the Turf Tavern when I took this photo.  I was having Real Ale and fish and chips.  Yum.

JAC: The Turf is my favorite local in Oxford; they have at least 20 real ales on tap and yes, the fish and chips is (are?) great.

Lastly, a view of the eponymous cave at the Cave Stream Reserve between Porter’s Pass and Arthur’s Pass on the South Island of New Zealand.  I’m sure you were very near this (if you didn’t get to visit it) during your recent trip to NZ.  You can hike up through the cave and come out the other end after about a ½-mile underground.  You are wading in the stream to dress appropriately and carry multiple light sources and watch the weather!

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 4, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have photos from reader Dave, whose photography website is here (note that he sells a different photo print every month). The titles (indented) are his; click on the photos to enlarge them (all photos ©DSF_ All Rights Reserved).


Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos):

Illuminating Fog:

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum):

North American Azaleas:

Glacial Collapse:

Thomson Scattering:

Against Entropy:

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 3, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good photos!

Today we have bird photos from two contributors. The first is reader Gary Miranda, whose IDs and comments are indented. Click the photos to enlarge them.

Here are a few that were taken at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge in southern Washington state.

Gary identified this as a “great ibis”, but it’s clearly not, as there’s no such bird. It isn’t even an American white ibis, so I’ll leave it to readers to identify. Is it an egret?

Northern harrier, [Circus hudsonius] juvenile

Red-tailed Hawk, light juvenile [Buteo jamaicensis]:

Bald Eagle [Haliaeetus leucocephalus] screaming at the sky or maybe the rain:

And from Bill Meyer:

Attached are a few recent, local wildlife photos.  I’m ready for spring but now is a great time to see our local woodpeckers.  First is a yellow-shafted [Northern] flicker (Colaptes auratus) from my yard in Grundy County, Illinois.

And, also from the backyard, our biggest, a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus).

A moment of zen on the temporarily serene Illinois River in Morris, Illinois.

The final two shots are from two days ago,  a red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) and a relatively rare red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) at a Will County Forest Preserve (Illinois).

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 26, 2021 • 8:15 am

Today’s photos come from Dom, who’s spent the lockdown in Cromer, a seaside town on the east of England. Dom’s notes are indented, and you can click on his photos to enlarge them.

Here are some snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, in the Cromer woods. Not a native species in the British Isles, they have however become naturalised. They hang their flower heads- I suppose it protects the flower from precipitation…

This is a mass of hornwrack, not the same as horned wrack which is a seaweed, but a form of sea-mat and a Bryozoan or Polyzoan. With the iPhone it is hard to get a good close-up, but you can see the spaces individuals live in—a bit like a honeycomb. They live below the tideline & presumably dead ones get thrown up on shore in storms. This mass of hornwrack was 2-3 feet deep, & full of bits of shore crab; and I found part of a lobster shell. There was a dead black-headed gull, probably the victim of one of the peregrines that nest on the church tower, also remains of 6 dead woodcocks – wings & breastbones- possibly  also eaten by the peregrines.

There were also masses of Whelk eggs – Buccinum undatum – astonishingly large compared with the size of the whelk. They look like bubble-wrap. Apparently of all the eggs in each bubble, only one hatches, after consuming its fellows! Common Whelks, found on shores of the North Atlantic as far south as New Jersey and France, do not tolerate waters warmer than 29° C. They are also affected by marine pollutants, like the coatings used on ships to inhibit growth of marine life – Tributyltin or TBT.  These can cause female whelks – they have male/female sex unlike some molluscs – to develop male gonads, which is called ‘imposex’.
Photo attached is a rather bashed whelk shell. I threw the egg cases in the sea – some eggs were still unhatched – but they could easily have been washed up again. I imagine whelks attach them to something. I cannot understand how one whelk can produce so many eggs!

Some pictures from Cromer this week. The only visible flowers are on the gorse which can be seen with some flowers every month of the year, though I wonder what insects would take advantage of that—perhaps winter flying gnats Trichoceridae? But they tend to be in the woods rather than heath-like habitat.

 A couple of pictures show snow showers blowing in from the north-east.

We have unusually had snow lying here for over a week – one of the crab fishermen said he’d never seen it last this long. Usually being by the sea moderates the cold, but that means it is often cooler in summer of course.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 25, 2021 • 8:00 am

I’m seriously low on photos; you don’t want this feature to disappear, do you? (I have about a week’s worth left.) Please send in your good ones!

Today’s batch comes from reader Bob Fritz. His captions are indented, and click on the screenshot to enlarge the photos:

Here are some bird photographs taken at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California. The reserve has a mix of salt and freshwater marshes with many hiking trails, and hosts a wide variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia):

The Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) struts and spreads its wings while hunting for fish. In the first picture the left leg is bent back, causing it to appear like a pole behind the bird.

The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) flies low to catch its prey, with its narrow beak gliding through the water.

Bolsa Chica at sunset.  View facing north-west, with Pacific Coast Highway on the left.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 23, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos document the adventure travel of my friend Anne-Marie, who lives in Montreal. When I visited her and her husband a few years ago, besides showing me great hospitality, she recounted the years when she was an adventure guide, including leading clients on multi-week trips in the Arctic, dragging all their stuff with them. Today she sends some pictures and captions of two of her adventures. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)


Some souvenirs from past trips in far away places.

The pictures cover two trips on which I had the privilege of guiding adventure-hungry customers: the first one, in Morocco (trekking from one casbah to the other) and the second, on Baffin Island (Canada), a 225 km snowshoeing trek in full autonomy (carrying everything we needed). I have chosen these pictures mainly because of the light, which I remember as being extraordinary.

Moon setting down at the end of a long day in the Draa Valley.

Same valley, very early in the morning:

Another night-time picture, this time in the Jbel Saghro mountain range.

The second picture set is taken from the 3-week trek through Auyuittuq National Park (Baffin). This was a physically and psychologically demanding adventure during which I initiated six untried customers to the rigours of winter conditions above the Arctic Circle.

Daylight picture taken during a very windy day!

The next two pictures display the main and only transportation method for our equipment: human-powered—no gas engine!

One of our campsites, in a typical setting:

First thing in the morning: greeting clients with a good cup of coffee. Do not get fooled by my bare hands: the temperature was around -18C, and opening a Ziploc bag with gloves was almost impossible!  The small cook-tent helped keep my hands warm while preparing the meals.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 22, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have some nice photos of (be still my heart) Antarctica taken by reader Mike Hannah, an evolutionist and paleontologist at the University of Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Mike’s captions and narrative are indented; click the photos to enlarge them.

I have been fortunate to spend five seasons in Antarctica as a palynologist on two scientific drilling projects – The Cape Roberts Project (1997 – 1999) and ANDRILL (2006 – 2007) . These pictures are all from my association with ANDRILL – it was the only time I got my camera to work!


The first image is of the American McMurdo Station on Ross Island (where New Zealand’s Scott Base is also situated). Although I was part of the New Zealand programme, we worked and were quartered in McMurdo, which has a population of over 1000 in summer. The photo was taken from the top of Observation Hill, where  a look out was kept for Scott and his party, hoping that they would return from the South Pole.

This is the view from my office window – across McMurdo Sound to the Royal Society Range – part of the Transantarctic Mountains.

As part of the project we got to visit the Dry Valleys – areas that are snow and ice free all year round – the winds are so strong that snow can’t accumulate. Flying into the Taylor Valley, you pass several beautiful ice falls.

Taylor Valley itself is stunningly beautiful, much of it free from snow and ice but with hanging glaciers dripping from the margins.

Another view of the Taylor Valley this time with the Taylor Glacier that fills one end of it, The black stripe running around the valley is the Ferrar Dolerite. The injection of this igneous rock as the supercontinent Gondwanaland broke up is associated with one of the planet’s mass extinctions.

 Mt Erebus, Antarctica’s only active volcano, dominates Ross island:

Across McMurdo sound is another volcano – Mt Discovery. I took this picture at about midnight in early January, and did not use any filters! If you look closely, there are Adelie penguins [Pygoscelis adeliae] in the foreground.

Finally, a much younger me on top of Observation Hill next to the cross erected by the survivors of Scott’s expedition in memory of Scott, Oates, Bowers, Wilson and Evans—all of whom perished on the return journey from the South Pole. The famous quote from Tennyson: ”To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” that they inscribed on the cross is now barely legible.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 11, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from a new contributor, Deborah Davis. Her comments are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

These photos are from a road trip to the eastern Sierras last July.  I drove down to San Diego to pick up my road trip partner (we do 2-3 of these kinds of trips per year), and then we spent 9 days living out of my truck and hiking the Sierras.  Two of the photos are a couple of lakes along the Mosquito Flats trail, which was my favorite hike of the entire trip.  The other lake photo is Convict Lake, named for a group of convicts who escaped from jail in Carson City NV, and were cornered by a local posse there.  I love the different colored rock layers in the mountains in the background.

Mosquito Flats lakes:

Convict Lake:

The last photo is also from the Mosquito Flats trail, from a pile of rocks right along the trail.  There’s a pika (Ochotona princeps, I think) in the rocks, so this is an extremely easy ‘spot the…’ photo.  He’s worth the spot; he’s pretty cute.

Can you spot the pika?