Readers’ wildlife photos

July 31, 2014 • 12:13 am

Reader Ed Kroc sent a passel of photos from Vancouver Island:

I was recently lucky enough to take a short trip to northern Vancouver Island with my partner to see some sights and creatures on the edge of the continent.  Here’s a few pictures I thought you might enjoy.

First up is a beautiful Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) from Strathcona Provincial Park.  In addition to having an excellent name that commands attention, these butterflies are extremely territorial.  They left me alone, but I did spot one of them dive-bombing the head of a shiba inu as she wandered too close by with her human staff.

Lorquins Admiral
Next up are two pictures of a Sea Raft, or simply a Velella (Velella velella).  This is the only known species in the genus, and it’s a weird one.  The velella is pleustonic and relies on the wind for locomotion, possessing no means of autonomous movement.  They’re still part of the animal kingdom (which reminds me just how varied that kingdom really is), and are actually carnivorous, feeding on plankton by means of tiny tentacles that emit toxins into their prey.  The large translucent sail on the velella’s back is precisely that: a literal sail it uses to ride the winds.  This undoubtedly explains its other names: purple sail and little sail.  The winds occasionally wash hundreds or even thousands of them up on the western shores of Vancouver Island.  But this specimen was only one of maybe half a dozen I saw at Cape Scott Provincial Park.

Velella1

Velella2
And of course, some birds to end with.  Here’s one photo of a juvenile Common Merganser (Mergus merganser), also from Cape Scott Provincial Park.  This was one of three juveniles likely from the same clutch that were resting in San Josef Bay.  They were extremely wary of humans, definitely a difference from the typical Vancouver waterfowl.

Common Merganser Juvenile
Finally, two photos of some Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Bald eagles are very common along the shores of Hardy Bay.  The photo shows a pair of bald eagles chatting in the trees near the Cluxewe River estuary, a short distance outside Port McNeill, also on the northern shores of Vancouver Island.

Bald Eagle pair

Finally, since I have no place for this photograph, which was sent by several readers, I’ll just add it here:

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Is that Al Gore’s hand on the left?