Caught some early morning light on an Arbutus tree whose peeling bark seems to be sending out a message. About what I can’t say, but they have been stressed by fungal organisms and warmer, drier weather in recent years. Ours seem to be doing pretty well, but we do see a lot of mangy looking trees in the area.
And some travel photos by Jean Greenberg:
We went to Tibet in the summer of 2009. It was when Michael Jackson died, because we learned about it while we were there. We traveled with my former postdoc and her husband, who was all about taking fancy pictures and connecting with people everywhere even though he could not speak the language. To get pictures of people, he often posed with them. The pictures below, except for a few, were taken by my late husband Adam Driks.
Thanks to a slew of readers, we have enough photos for several potpourri features, but do send in your long-form contributions when you can. Thanks!
We’ll have two contributors today, the first being physicist and origami master Robert Lang from Altadena, California. Like all photos below, the captions are indented and you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them:
I saw today you asked for a few topping-off photos, so I thought I’d send the below, from recent mornings’ hikes.
First, we have the common American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). A group of these started hanging around my place for a few days; I suspect, coincidentally (and sadly) with the disappearance of the contents of a mourning dove nest I’d been monitoring in a nook above the back porch.
And now for a few hiking photos. The Whipple Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) blooms in June, studding the mountains with cream-colored candlesticks. They bloom only once, then die, but there’s plenty of slightly younger ones to fill in each year.
Darkling Beetles (Eleodes sp., possibly armata) are fairly common around here. When disturbed, they stick their butt up in the air. This one was just going about its business.
And last, a new and uncommon critter: the Southern California legless lizard (Anniella stebbinsi). At first glance I thought it was an earthworm from its size and shape and the way it was twitching from side to side, but given the heat and dryness, any earthworm wouldn’t have been long for the world! A closer look revealed its reptilian scales, and then its stumpy tail and lizard-like head helped narrow it down.
Here are two photos by regular Joe Dickinson. He didn’t supply the IDs, but it’s clear that one is a flying fox and the other a primate. I’ll add the IDs when he responds to my query. In the meantime, you can guess!
This is an ineffably sweet video from The Dodo, showing a gorilla mother, with her own young baby, fascinated by a human relative with her human baby on the other side of the glass. Four minutes in the video, the gorilla mom fetches and displays her own infant to the human. I cannot help but feel, anthropomorphic though it may be, that this is a moment of maternal bonding.
Here’s The Dodo‘s text:
Sometimes, a difference really isn’t a difference at all — especially when it comes to the bonds of a mother’s love.
Just ask Emmelina Austin and her new friend, this gorilla mom named Kiki.
The other day, Austin and her family decided to pay a visit to the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston with their 1-month-old son, Canyon.
It was there, while stopping by the gorilla enclosure, that the Austins spotted Kiki in the company of her own child, a 7-month-old baby gorilla named Pablo.
“My wife mentioned that she felt like she could understand their bond and could see how much she cared for Pablo, since she is a mother now herself,” Michael Austin, Canyon’s dad, told The Dodo.
“My wife held up our son to show to Kiki, who was on the other side of the enclosure … then Kiki grabbed Pablo and put him on her leg to carry him over to us.”
For the next several minutes, Emmelina and Kiki sat with their babies inches apart — bonding as mothers, despite the barrier between them, in a language as old as time:
“[Kiki] was talking to us with her hands,” Michael said. “Pablo even pushed his face up to the glass at one point and they watched him, noses touching, together. My wife and I both had tears in our eyes.”
It was a moment the young family won’t soon forget.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences,” Michael said. “Such an incredible memory to share with our son someday!”
I think we’ll take a break from the photos tomorrow, as people will be celebrating and the photographer’s work may be overlooked. But do send your photos in!
Today’s photos were taken in Tanzania by Daniel Shoskes. His commentary is indented; click on the photos to enlarge them.
These should be self explanatory. The baby wildebeest was a few minutes old. It’s amazing to me how a giraffe can bend down so low to drink and then raise up their head to full height and not stroke out.
Send in your photos, please, as the tanking is running low. Today’s photos comprise the second installment from reader “sherfolder”, whose first bit appeared here with the following caption:
At the beginning of March, I was on a two-week round trip in South Africa and was lucky that the trip could be carried out as it was planned (on the day of our departure the government imposed an entry ban due to the corona pandemic).
From Cape Town via the Garden Route and via Johannesburg we also visited the Kruger National Park and a few days later the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, the latter being the second oldest national park worldwide after Yellowstone.
In March the autumn season starts in South Africa but the vegetation is still very green and many plants are in bloom and of intense colours. The first animal that crossed the path early in the morning at 6:30 am was a spotted hyena. They were followed by giraffes, elephants, zebras, water buffaloes and hippos lying in waterholes, langurs, many many impalas along the way, and, as a highlight, a young lioness.
And here are some photos of the animals described above (no captions were given):
Here’s a National Geographic video about the Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)—a pretty accurate description of its appearance. The baby comes in for some rough treatment when all the females want to hug it.
Here’s its range (it’s endangered because of habitat loss):
I’ve put up a selection of bird and mammal photos from Ralph Burgess, sent on September 19. His IDs and notes are indented (I’ve added links and the common name).
Here are some pictures taken in Kruger Nation Park over the past couple of weeks.
Perhaps I could also make a case for you to elevate the Spotted Hyena to honorary cat status. They are phylogenetically closer to cats than dogs, but with an evolutionary niche and social structure somewhat convergent with canines. They were notably curious and endearing animals when encountered in Kruger. They are highly intelligent with complex social structure, and their traditional reputation as sneaky or cowardly villains is unwarranted. They are not primarily scavengers, and they actively fight lions to protect their own kills. Fortunately, they are a successful species in modern Africa and not endangered, since public support for protecting them might be lacking; it was notable that I didn’t find any souvenirs (other than postcards) featuring hyenas in the tourist gift shops.
We have a new contributor today: Samuel Kornstein, who sent this just a few days ago. His notes are indented, and he has a great wildlife photography site here.
I have a bunch of wildlife photos to share. These are all from last week, taken during a family trip to Manuel Antonio and Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. The wildlife there is just incredible. Feel free to post any that you think make the cut.
The highlight was the two toed sloth sighting. My wife and I spent a morning hiking around Manuel Antonio National park with our two young kids (aged two and one), and we were hoping to find a sloth. Unfortunately we didn’t, but still had an amazing time. When we got back to our rental house, this two toed sloth was just hanging out in a tree on the property.
I believe this is a grey throated (or dark throated) hawk, but I can’t find anything more specific. They were quite common.
Not strictly wildlife (or a great photo), but we visited a manatee rescue center where we were able to see that rare animal (Trichechus inunguis). You can see the horizontally flattened paddle-like tail. As with whale flukes, this clearly is used in vertical propulsion strokes rather than side to side like fish. This reflects the fact that aquatic mammals are derived from land mammals that flexed the spine up and down when running.
Also not really wild, guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) are raised as food. Some in our group gave it a try, but I can’t get past a passage in a travel memoir that I read years ago describing a guinea pig roasted whole as looking like “the victim of a forest fire”.
This chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera, I think) was living in a somewhat lower class ancient Inca house (judging from the rather crudely fitted stonework compared to the extraordinary work on things like temples and some higher class houses).
Also probably not wild, these alpacas (Vicugna pacos) were wandering free near one of the Inca sites we visited.
And this alpaca clearly is not wild, but very cute.
And a llama (Lama glama), wild or domestic I don’t know, wandered by in time to give me an excuse for including Machu Picchu in a set of purported wildlife photos.
And another “ringer” just because I really like this photo. This is at Otavalo, Ecuador, photographed during a post trip excursion connected to a visit to the Galapagos a few years ago.
The wooly monkey (genus Lagothrix) is more muscular looking but also very agile. Both, of course, have the prehensile tail characteristic of New World monkeys. I had to bite my tongue to avoid correcting our guide when he said Old World monkeys have no tail. Wrong—it’s just not prehensile. He also asserted that tarantulas are not spiders because they have ten legs rather than 8. Wrong again, they just have rather large pedipalps (mouthparts). This sort of thing always makes me worry: what else did he/she get wrong that I don’t know about.
Here, out of context, is a baboon (Old World) making rather good use of her tail.