Readers’ wildlife photos

June 16, 2021 • 8:00 am

Once again I ask readers to consider sending me their good wildlife photos.

Today’s photos are of BIG CATS IN AFRICA, and were taken by reader John. His notes and IDs are indented, and you can click on his photos to enlarge them

Since you asked us to send more wildlife photos, here are some more. African cats this time, from Tanzania — Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area.

We were lucky to see a mother cheetah  (Acinonyx jubatus) and her offspring, I don’t know how old. My wife and I fell in love with cheetahs, so can’t help including several of them. It’s funny how the baby’s head and neck fur look like feathers.

(S)he’s looking at us:

These animals define the word svelte.

This female lion (Panthera leo) is wearing a “wire”, as they say on the police shows.

Two shots of leopards (Panthera pardus). This one was right next to the road.

Ans this one is taking a welcome afternoon siesta in a tree. We saw several of these.

These four lionesses (or is there a male there?) were the first creatures we saw in the Serengeti, so we figured they were a welcoming committee.

Our driver cheated some by going fairly close to this mother lion and her cubs — but not too close. One little one has light spots on its back legs. Is this normal?

I can’t see this one without feeling like reaching out and scratching its belly. It would be the last thing I ever did!

This is a rare one, that we saw only from far away, hence the bad quality of the photo, which is much enlarged. It’s a serval (Leptailurus serval). It’s maybe a good half meter tall and weighs less than 20 kg.

Readers’ wildlife photos

June 9, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s diverse photos come from Ian Churchill, whose Flickr site is here. Ian’s captions are indented. Click the photos to enlarge them.

Amanita muscaria, [the “fly agaric”], Horsell Common, England:

Baby European Herring Gulls [Larus argentatus,]Wadars Wildlife rescue, Worthing, England:

Crocodile, Black River, Jamaica:

Damselfly, Woods Mill, England:

Deer, Petworth Park, England:


Iguana? Tulum, Mexico:

European Robin [Erithacus rubecula], Brighton, England:


Seals, Juneau, Alaska, US:


Grey Squirrel [Sciurus carolinensis] eating mealworms from bird feeder, Brighton, England:

Humpback Whale [Megaptera novaeangliae], Juneau, Alaska, US:

Readers’ wildlife photos

June 8, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your good wildlife photos, please!

Today’s photos, taken by Paul Edelman in Tennessee, were sent in by his wife Suzanna Sherry; both are law professors at Vanderbilt. I believe that the captions and IDs are hers, though, and they’re indented.

I’m answering your call of desperation with more photos from my husband, Paul Edelman. Migration season is winding down, so many of these birds are either breeding here or here for at least the rest of the summer. Some of them may be year-round  residents, but I’m not knowledgeable enough yet! As before, all were taken at Radnor Lake State Park, with a Nikon D-500 camera and a Nikkor 500 mm f5.6 lens.

Two photos of the same prothonotary warbler baby (Protonotaria citrea) in its nest – in one of them it’s being fed by a parent. The baby looks bigger than the parent, but I assume that’s all just fluff.

A wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), which I hadn’t seen before and is a very handsome bird.

Another orchard oriole (Icturus spurius) – we’ve seen quite a number of these.

Red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus), apparently very common around here.

Summer tanager (Piranga rubra), just passing through, I think.

Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla).

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica).

And just so your readers know that Radnor has more than birds, here’s a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus):

Readers’ wildlife photos

June 3, 2021 • 8:00 am

I beseech you, o my readers, to send in your photos, as the tank diminishes. Do I have to beg? Very well, then:  access to this website will always be free, so couldn’t you part with a few photos just to spice it up?

Enough. Today we have some nice photos of antelopes taken by John O’Neall. John’s captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

You requested more wildlife photos and I have a lot [JAC: send them, please!]. You already posted some of my African bird pix a couple years or so ago. Here are some nice antelopes.

This guy is a Defassa waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa). Nogorongoro Crater

We saw lots of wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), but only this time did they dance for us. This guy was leaping into the air and cavorting like mad. Some sort of mating thing? Ngorongoro Crater.

Two male impalas (Aepyceros melampus) engaged in social grooming — licking. Impalas were the most frequent antilopes we met, then gazelles.

These are the cutest—a Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) couple standing, as it seems, on their toes., northern Serengeti NP

Loved these tiny dik-diks (Madoqua kirkii), about 30-40 cm short. Serengeti NP

Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles (Gazella granti and Gazella thomsoni), the latter with the black stripe on their sides, also smaller; Serengeti NP.

Common waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa), with white, semicircular stripes on the rump, Tarangire NP

And a bunch/herd/gaggle/whatever of impalas (Aepyceros melampus) at a watering hole. Tarangire NP

Readers’ wildlife photos and videos

June 2, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good photos, as I always have need of more.

First, a video from evolutionary biologist Iñigo Martinez-Solano, who sent in some amphibian photos in December. Now we have a video:

Last December I contributed some amphibian pictures to your website, including two of Iberian midwife toads [Alytes cisternasii], which have a unique reproductive biology with male parental care of the eggs for about a month, after which they release the tadpoles in ponds and streams. Recently I had the opportunity to take a video of a male releasing the tadpoles and I thought you might be interested in sharing it with your readers:


And we have two photo contributions today, the first from Charles Schwing. You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

First, some deer photos from Charles Schwing.

Some pictures from our backyard in Napa, CA. Our lot backs on to Redwood Creek, which is seasonal this far down from its source and deer use it as a main thoroughfare. We often see more than one deer at a time, but  this is the record holder:

We see males together more than we expected. Here are several in velvet. BTW, the ugly green plastic container on the steel post is an improvised but effective squirrel deterrent, keeping them out of the bird feeders.

Speaking of bird feed, we put some seed on a table so it would be accessible to birds (mourning doves, for example) that haven’t mastered feeders. This deer had other plans.

And a plant, a cactus from reader Linda Calhoun (photo by her husband John) that she can’t identify. Can readers help?

John took this yesterday (May 30).  It’s under a tree along the driveway.  It’s not a common species, so I can’t ID it, but it bloomed suddenly, which is how John found it.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 31, 2021 • 8:00 am

Thanks for the response to my importuning you for photos: I got several sets, one of which is below. But don’t neglect sending in your good photos, as I always have a need for more.

This set comes from reader David Campbell, whose captions are indented. Click on his photos to enlarge them.

A few photos for the hopper.  As usual, a diverse lot.

Great Egret (Ardea alba) photographed at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  The bird is gliding within one half of one wingspan above the water, a condition known as ground effect.  This reduces the drag on the wing because the fixed surface (in this case the water) breaks up the wingtip vortices.  Less drag increases glide efficiency.  If the bird gets close enough to the surface of the water on a calm day, you can actually see the ripples where the vortices meet the water.  This egret did not oblige.

Spotted Sunfish (Lepomis punctatus).  Male coming into breeding color photographed in Silver Glen Springs in the Ocala National Forest.  Spotted Sunfish are among the most common of the Lepomis in the St Johns River drainage and the most approachable.  If a swimmer is  motionless and patient the fish will swim up within inches and hover.  Look closely and you can see the teeth in the lower jaw and a leech attached to the fin rays.

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata) photographed at Payne’s Prairie Preserve south of Gainesville, Florida.

Horned Spanworm (Nematocampa sp.  Probably N. resista.). This larva dropped down from an oak canopy on a silk thread.  The dorsal threads can be extended until straight.

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis).  This is a quartet of photos showing how a nonvenomous snake can intimidate perceived threats by changing its appearance to look like a venomous snake.  When grabbed, garter snakes respond by biting and smearing musky feces on the attacker.  The experience is both unpleasant and memorable.  When threatened they try to flee.  When cornered, like many other snakes, they vibrate their tails, inflate the body to look larger and fatter, and flatten the head to make it wider and more triangular while elevating the front third of the body in an S shaped coil.  It is a pretty impressive mimic of a small viper.

This is a close up of the front part of the snake.

The first photo shows a normal eastern garter snake as it would look minding its own business.

The second shows a snake that is in almost full defensive posture with inflated body and flattened head.

The fourth photo shows a snake in full defensive threat posture with head elevated for a strike.

Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox).  The trash can lid with legs and an attitude.  This is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the United States, with large females having carapace lengths approaching 40 cm long.  They spend most of their time under water except when basking or seeking mates/laying eggs.  They have very long necks and extended nostrils, allowing them to sit on the bottom waiting for food but still reach up to the surface to breathe.  The neck is long enough that the turtle can bite a careless human grabbing the shell behind the middle of both sides.  Turtle rescuers grab (VERY carefully) the front edge and rear edge of the shell to transport softshells.

Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius).  I found this little beauty crawling next to my house.  Coral snakes are elapids, related to cobras, with short fixed fangs and primarily neurotoxic venom.  We used to see them a lot more frequently, but drought and a large feral cat colony down the road have decimated populations of lizards and snakes that coral snakes feed on.  These are shy snakes that tend to be very nervous.  When threatened many (but not this one) curl the end of the tail into a small ball and wave it around, supposedly mimicking a head, while burying the real head under a coil of snake.  Several species of nonvenomous snakes mimic coral snakes, but their banding patterns are a bit different.  The late Dr. Roger Conant suggested thinking of a traffic light.  Red means stop, yellow means caution (except around here where a yellow light means floor it).  If the danger colors touch, it’s a coral snake.  In North America.

Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) This is not “wild” life but the picture shows one of my favorite cats in a beautiful pose.  It was photographed at the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, Florida.

Readers’ wildlife videos

May 25, 2021 • 8:00 am

Robert Lang, reader, physicist, and origami master, sent us some lovely videos he took from his California studio. These were sent on May 14, and Robert’s captions are indented.

These all come from a camera I have set up outside my studio window, so it’s capturing pretty much the view I have during the day at work (the animal visits are great, but my productivity has taken a nosedive). The critter cam has an IR feature, which lets me also get visitors who only show up at night. That’s when I’ve had most of my Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) visitors. (They are honorary cats, I hear.)

The meadow (mostly bare this spring, due to the poor rains this past winter) is prime habitat for California Ground Squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi). Sometimes, though, the Western Gray Squirrels (Sciurus griseus anthonyi) come out of the trees, like this one.
I get visitations from two types of rabbits: Brush Rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani) and Desert (or Audobon’s) Cottontails (Sylvilagus audubonii). These are the latter. They’re distinguishable by (among other things) the black rim on their ears (which the Brush Rabbits lack; also the Brush Rabbits stick close to the brush line at the back of the lot, so I rarely get videos as they’re too far away.) These are being a bit frisky with each other.
I’ve seen way more rabbits this year than in previous years (and not many bobcat or coyotes). There’s probably some sort of relationship there.
We get lots of California Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus). This one is ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille.
And the grand finale, from this morning: an American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Although California extirpated its grizzlies from everywhere but the state flag back in the 1920s, the Black Bear continues to spread throughout the state. They regularly come out of the mountains to visit the adjacent neighborhoods, and in recent months, a mother and two cubs have become downright famous in Altadena via postings from neighborhood security cameras. Despite the name “black bear,” their color is highly variable; the ones around here range from rich brown (like this one) to nearly blond.

Readers’ wildlife photos and video

May 22, 2021 • 8:00 am

We have a Saturday potpourri of videos and photos today, with all contributors’ captions indented. Click on the photos to enlarge.

First, a bunneh from Graham Martin-Royle:

As you’re getting short of photos I thought I’d send this one in. Prey animals quite often freeze when they think they’re in danger in the hope that they don’t get spotted (I know you know this, I’m just trying to explain this photo). This rabbit saw my friend and I approaching in this dry gulley in southern Utah, back in 2018 and froze, allowing us to get up pretty close.

Can you spot the rabbit?

Visiting foxes from Randy Schenck:

First, an adult in April:

Jerry,  Foxes in the front yard about 7 am. today.  There were three all together, two adults and one about half grown.  Wish I could have gotten a picture of all three but no luck.  Not a good window looking out front for photos.

This is urban Wichita, Kansas.

So all three foxes were back today, May 1, 2021.  Arrived about 7 am and stayed maybe ½ hour.  This is probably because we put out some food (five big dog biscuits) for the foxes.  The first two photos are of the pup or smaller fox.  The second photo also shows he is carrying one of the dog biscuits.  Having the food out there really did the trick and we will probably try again tomorrow.

A balancing rock from Bryan Lepore:

I am sharing a photo of Balance Rock in Pittsfield State Forest, MA (easy to read about on the Internet). I am sharing this because the rock is amazing, and also because photos I found on the internet are rather weak :

And from Bryan Tarr: a mother and ducklings in Poland. This warms my heart; I wish only that my own ducklings were so well behaved. I count ten.

I had the good fortune to see a mother with her ducklings recently, this time in Radzyń Podlaski near a small stream. I managed to grab my phone just in time to catch the second half of their hurried journey past me.