Readers’ wildlife photos

February 22, 2022 • 9:00 am

Today’s photos come from the North Island of New Zealand and were taken by Chris Taylor. His captions and IDs 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 name of 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!

Pohutukawa treeMetrosideros excelsa.

Photos from the Pūkorokoro / Miranda shorebird reserve.  Flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit/Kuaka Limosa lapponica, Ruddy 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 Peninsula.   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 FernAlsophila 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

February 8, 2022 • 8:45 am

Please send in your wildlife photos!

Yes, we have no wildlife today but we have geysers—photographed by Matt Young. Matt’s notes are indented, and you can enlarge the geyer pix by clicking on them.

I had the good fortune to spend several days in Iceland in the summer of 2010 with my wife and a Canon PowerShot G11. One of the more interesting points of interest, at least photographically, was a visit to Geysir, which, as you might guess, is the root from which we get “geyser.” When we were there, it erupted every 8 min or so. Typically, it burbled for a while,

. . . then went back to a quiescent state:

before threatening an eruption:

. . . and then blowing its top (several minutes elapsed between the third and fourth photographs).

The following picture was exposed (from the opposite side) a few minutes before the sequence and illustrates the height of the blast – around 15 m, which is on the low side according to Wikipedia.

Finally, for good measure, a different kind of eruption. The rock (upper left corner) was provided by my grandson Toby Shannon in 2013, when he was 9. It took a lotta rocks to get that sequence. Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado, Canon PowerShot SX280.


JAC:  Here’s an explanation from National Geographic why geysers erupt periodically

A geyser is a rare kind of hot spring that is under pressure and erupts, sending jets of water and steam into the air.

Geysers are made from a tube-like hole in the Earth’s surface that runs deep into the crust. The tube is filled with water. Near the bottom of the tube is molten rock called magma, which heats the water in the tube.

Water in the lower part of the tube, close to the magma, becomes superhot. Gradually, it begins to boil. Some of the water is forced upward. The boiling water begins to steam, or turn to gas. The steam jets toward the surface. Its powerful jet of steam ejects the column of water above it. The water rushes through the tube and into the air.

The eruption will continue until all the water is forced out of the tube, or until the temperature inside the geyser drops below boiling (100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, at sea level).

After the eruption, water slowly seeps back into the tube. The process begins again. In some small geysers, the eruption process can take just a few minutes. In larger geysers, it can take days. The most famous geyser in the United States, Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful, erupts about every 50-100 minutes.

And here’s an eruption of Steamboat Geyer in Yellowstone, currently the tallest geyser in the world. The eruptions can last up to 40 minutes, spewing a column of water 300 feet into the air:

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 20, 2022 • 8:30 am

Today Mark Sturtevant is back with some lovely wide-angle photos. Mark’s IDs and comments (links are also his) are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

A specialty area of macrophotography is wide angle macrophotography. Here, a subject can be seen in extreme closeup while its broader surroundings are also in view since the lens is also a wide angle lens. The best-known wide angle macro lens is one made by Laowa, but that lens is rather expensive. But there is a near clone of that lens made by Opteka—the Opteka 15mm f/4) which retails for just over $100. So. . . I bought the Opteka. It took a while to figure out how to get along with it since these kinds of lenses are very challenging, but I can definitely say that this is the most fun lens that I own. Here are some wide angle macro pictures.

This is a ground-level view of my favorite spot to look for aquatic fishing spiders on lily pads. None were here that day. You can see that the depth of focus is pretty amazing when stopped down all the way to f/32 (!):

Views up a tree are always interesting. This lens encourages one to look for unique angles. The picture is focus-stacked from several pictures:

Mushrooms near a forest trail:

But of course, photographing spiders and insects is especially fun (for me). Here is a nursery web spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus), which is one of the biggest and scariest spiders around here. I could trust that she would not leave her babies in the web nursery, though, even though the lens is practically touching her:

Black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia):

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus):

European praying mantis (Mantis religiosa). I rather like the solar flares that often turn up in this lens. There is a short lens hood, but it’s pretty useless because the working distance is often just a few millimeters for wide angle macro lenses.

Chinese praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis):

Thanks for looking!

If anyone wishes to learn more about this kind of photography, one cannot do better than watch this delightful review from the great Thomas Shahan. He concentrates mainly on the Laowa wide angle macro lens, but it really is like the Opteka model as far as I am aware.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 11, 2022 • 8:45 am

Reader Gary Arndt sent in photos of a place I’ve longed to visit: South Georgia Island. Famous for Ernest Shackleton‘s desperate visit in an attempt to rescue his men after his ship was destroyed by an Antarctic icepack, it harbors Shackleton’s grave as well as one of the largest colonies of King Penguins anywhere.  Here’s where it is:

Gary’s captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

I thought my first submission would be for images I took on South Georgia Island when I visited back in 2012.South Georgia is one of the largest penguin breeding areas in the world. I saw at least five different species of penguin there, but by far the most prevalent are the King Penguins. The largest site for them is the area known as the Salisbury Plain, where you can find well over 100,000 penguins.

In addition to penguins, you can find fur seals as well. South Georgia used to be a big area for seal hunters in the early 20th century. The seal pups will often be found sleeping on Tussock Grass like this one.

This is a leucistic fur seal next to a normal fur seal. I actually saw several leucistic animals including some penguins on this trip, which is far more than I’ve probably seen anywhere else on Earth.

Some species of penguins have very cute chicks. King penguins are not one of them.

The reason why all the penguins are on land is so they can hatch their chicks and feed them until they are ready to go into the water and start feeding on their own. You can see lots of penguin vomit on the breasts of the chicks.

Rockhopper penguins are one of the other species you can find on South Georgia. I did occasionally see different penguin species intermixing, but mostly they kept to separate colonies.

Elephant seals can also be found on South Georgia. The males will spar with each other on the beach to establish dominance and to control their harems.

Most of the female elephant seals will just spend their time on the beach sleeping with the other females in their harem.

South Georgia was home to millions of seabirds. However, when whalers arrived in the early 20th century they brought rats which decimated the seabird population. Since I was there, they have completed their rat eradication program and it appears to be successful. Reports are that the seabird population has already rebounded and is growing rapidly.

South Georgia is best known as the location where Ernest Shackleton rescued his crew from the HMS Endurance. He landed on the south shore of the island and walked across the mountains and found this Norwegian whaling station called Stromness.

Shackleton’s remains were eventually moved to South Georgia Island and they rest today in the island’s only thing you can call a settlement: Grytviken.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 1, 2022 • 8:30 am

This is the second part of a two-part batch of photos by Matt Young (part 1 is here). His IDs and captions are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

I was in the Galápagos Islands during the end of December 2005, and the beginning of January 2006, bearing my trusty Canon PowerShot S30, with 3 megapixels and a 3X zoom. I took one or two pictures through an 8X monocular, but other than that I was on my own.

Mammals. The only mammals I saw, other than bipedal, were Galápagos sea lions, Zalophus wollebaeki.

A little snack:

And a nap:

Some geological features. Landscapes.

Lava tunnel. You could have easily crawled inside.

Lava flow.


Stubborn little plant.

Invertebrates. Sally Lightfoot crabs, Grapsus grapsus.

Painted locust, Schistocerca melanocera.

Tourist. Not exactly an invertebrate, but looking kind of spineless at the end of a hot day.

And for good measure, Machu Picchu.

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 22, 2021 • 8:30 am

Today we have some winter mountaineering, travel, and landscape photos from reader James Blilie. His captions are indented, and you can click on his photos to enlarge them.

Here is another batch of my landscape (and other) photos for your consideration.These are all scans of either Kodachrome 64 or Kodak Tri-X Pan black and white film, all 35mm.
First, a view of the Enchantment Basin and Prussik Peak, 1986.  This is a Kodachrome image converted to black and white in Lightroom SW:

Next a view of a rocky outcrop in the Kahiltna Glacier, Alaska, May 1987:

Skiers ascending through untracked snow at Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia, November 1988:

Snowy trees in Lincoln Park, Seattle, March 1990:

Figures in a landscape:  Glacier travel, Washington Cascades, probably on Mount Baker, March 1990:

Aerial view of Mt. St. Helens, March 1990:

Street photo along the Seine, Paris, 1992:

Sunset view from Royal Basin in the Olympic Mountains, July 1994:

A long-exposure of Icicle Creek with reflected foliage colors, near Leavenworth, Washington April 1995:

A view of Mount Rainier at sunset from the North Ridge of Mount Adams, August 2000:

A young woman in Nepal, August 1991:

More figures in a landscape:  Skiers ascending to the good runs, Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia, November 1988:

Finally a couple of “ringers”  First a lovely photo my Dad shot in 1950 in Bermuda:  Boats in a regatta:

This is my Dad’s photo, taken in 1952 or 1953, at Tachikawa, Japan.  This young man built for my Dad three solid-wood models of the planes my Dad flew on:  B-24, C-97, and C-54.  He’s holding the C-54, at Tachikawa City.  We still have these models.

Well, Facebook to the rescue(!).  I am a member of a Tachikawa Air Base group on FB and I posted the photo there.  One kind Japanese member of that group tracked down this man.  His name was Kozo Ozaki-san.  He passed away in 2012; but his best friend, Tetsouro Miura-san sent the photo below of Ozaki-san late in life, and said the following, “This is my best friend Kozo Ozaki-san. Mr. Ozaki died of cancer on December 19, 2012. He was 84 years old . Both I and Mr. Ozaki met well at the airplane model club. I think Mr. Ozaki was very pleased to know Mr. Jim Blili [my father].”

My equipment:  Pentax LX and K-1000 cameras, various Pentax M-series and A-series lenses; Tokina ATX 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, a wonderful lens.  Epson Perfection V500 scanner and its native software.  Lightroom 5 software.

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 21, 2021 • 8:30 am

Today we have a panoply of bird photos from Susan Harrison, professor and chair of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis. (We’ve seen some of her photos before.) Susan’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These birds were seen at oases in Anza-Borrego State Park earlier this week.  Most of them are desert specialists, including the phainopepla, verdin, gnatcatcher*, sparrow, and dove.

*Note about the gnatcatcher:  In its non-breeding plumage it resembles the more widespread Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher.  eBird listed only the Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher as being found at this location, the Merlin sound ID app identified it as a Black-Tailed, and the birds responded to a playback of the Black-Tailed’s call.

Loggerhead shrike, Lanius ludovicianus:

Phainopepla female, Phainopepla nitens:

Phainopepla male, Phainopepla nitens:

Verdin, Auriparus flaviceps:

Black throated sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata:

Black tailed gnatcatcher, Polioptila melanura:

California thrasher, Toxostoma redivivum:

White-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica:

Bewick’s wren, Thryomanes bewickii:

Rock wrenSalpinctes obsoletus:

Mountain Palm Springs:


Readers’ wildlife photos

December 16, 2021 • 8:15 am

PLEASE send in your wildlife/landscape/street photos. The holidays are nigh (9 shopping days before Coynezaa begins), so perhaps you’ll have time to gather some pictures and send them.

Today we’re going to see photos of the Australian Outback, continuing the trip of Linda Taylor that we saw yesterday. Actually, today’s photos are from the first part of her trip.  Linda’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. I put her first bit in not as self-aggrandizement but to show that we have some hard determinists among us. I will excuse the word “blog”!

I’m a big fan and I read your blog every day.  Of course there’s no free will and at times I have found that to be a comforting thought!

I’ve enclosed some photos of my 2015, it’s now or never, trip to the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia. Unfortunately there was precious little wildlife because of the cane toad invasion but the scenery is unique so I’ll let you decide if you want to show the photos. At that time I only had an iPhone but I have since upgraded to a better camera.

The entrance to Purnululu National Park:

It was the dry season and we hiked into the Bungles along the Piccaninny River bed.

Camp was set up in Piccaninny Crater, an ancient meteorite impact site. The left half of the pool was for swimming and the right half for drinking. No one got sick!

From the impact site five fissures or canyons spread out and each day we explored a different one. Here are Livistonia palms and plenty of fruit bats which due to their diet were not affected by the cane toads.

The pink pools:

Hiking up boulders tossed by the meteorite. Frighteningly deep crevasses between those boulders!

From Jerry:  I’ve enclosed a photo of Picaninny Crater from above taken from Wikipedia. The caption: “Landsat image of Piccaninny crater (circular feature in centre), Western Australia; screen capture from NASA’s World Wind program.”  You can see the five rivers flowing out of the impact area. 

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 15, 2021 • 8:15 am

Yes, yes, I am late today because I’ve moved my awakening time forward a bit (it’s now 4:15, oy!). But enough about my insomnia; here are some photos by Linda Taylor of a trip to the Australian Outback. Her notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

I’ve enclosed some photos of my trip to the Cockburn mountain range in the Kimberly of Western Australia which followed my trip to the Bungle Bungles.

We were flown in just past the cliffs of the Cockburn mountain range. But we walked back out that scree slope. Doesn’t look too bad from a distance… but it was treacherous.

My backpack was only 40 pounds but our guide carried a 70 pound pack and he also did twice the hike as he walked back and forth from the fastest to slowest hiker.

Even though it was the dry season there were plenty of pools of water for drinking. We weren’t allowed to get close to this particular pool until our guide checked it for crocodiles as they could make it up this far in the wet season. There was no need to treat the water as there are no animals or humans defecating in any water sources. As the only Giardia aware non-Australian I did choose to treat my drinking water with the side benefit that it would kill all the tiny leeches.

Bat shit creek. Some water was undrinkable.

We occasionally saw some rock art. This one of a woman giving birth with her legs akimbo.

Bowerbird display. Even though I didn’t see a lot of wildlife, clearly they were here. [JAC: The females here clearly prefer white objects, and note what the male has gathered. These are not nests but simply “extended phenotypes” of the males which they build to attract females. After mating in the bower, the females goes off and builds her nest.]

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 7, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have part 2 of Athayde Tonhasca Júnior’s photos of the rainforest of Brazil (part 1 is here). The captions (indented) are his, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. Most of the species were unidentified, so if you know them please post the IDs below. Thanks.

Horned toad:

Jaguar footprint (Panthera onca):

Leaves trapped in a spider web:

White-necked hawk, Leucopternis lacernulatus:

These photos were taken at the Reserva Natural do Cachoeira, Paraná State, Brazil (I included a map):

The city of Morretes, photo 1:

Wikipedia notes that Morretes “is famous for its restaurants, especially a traditional dish called barreado.” So of course I looked it up, and here’s what it is:

Simply stated, barreado is a delicious mixture of stewed beef, cooked in a clay pot for over 12 hours with bacon, bay leaves, and spices, served with manioc gravy, rice, and sliced bananas. Barreado’s genesis was as a dish that could be prepared easily and cooked slowly while people attended Carnival festivities. Like all good stews, barreado tastes just as good when reheated a few days after it’s prepared — just the food to maintain a long weekend of celebration.

Barreado literally means “covered in mud” in Portuguese, and the name references the way that the lid of a clay barreado pot was traditionally sealed with a mixture of manioc dough and ash before its cooked over a fire. The dough-sealed clay pot acts as a rustic slow cooker, trapping the meat’s succulent juices inside the pot as it stews over a low flame.

JAC: I found a photo and video. I want this!:

How to make it:


The city of Morretes, photo 2:

Phobetron hipparchia, the monkey slug caterpillar:

Puma (Puma concolor) caught by wildlife camera:

Puma scratchings:

Pyrrhura species:

Saffron finch, Sicalis flaveola:



Trogon species: