Readers’ wildlife photos

October 23, 2020 • 7:45 am

Keep sending in your wildlife photos, please. I have a decent backlog, but it gets depleted at the rate of 7 contributions per week.

Today we have some lovely photos of pelicans taken by reader Bob Fritz, whose captions are indented.

Here are some photos of Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) taken in La Jolla, California during breeding season (winter).  The birds cluster in large numbers along the cliffs by the ocean, and can be easily observed while walking along the various pathways.

Following are some “head throw” photos when the birds swing their head back.  I read speculation that this behavior helps stretch the skin of their pouch.

The La Jolla cliffs also provide good angles to catch the birds as they land, or to look down on them from above.

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 20, 2020 • 7:45 am

Today we have a potpourri from several readers. Their captions are indented.

First, a photo from Kristin Wells (click to enlarge):

The picture attached was taken this month at  Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Reader Cate found a debilitated baby squirrel (probably dehydrated) and wrote me asking what to do with it (she’s local). I told her to call the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, who would know what to do with it.  They did, and took it for rehab. Her notes:

Thanks Jerry, you were spot on. I called the bird people, and I was able to drop the poor little guy off with Annette downtown so she could bring him along with this morning’s wounded birds to Willowbrook. If you want to post anything about it to alert people about the wonderful people saving birds again, and that they can also take and safe squirrels, I can send you a picture of Annette holding the box with the squirrel too. He or she was a lovely specimen, an incredible tail.

The poor baby after rescue:

Annette taking it to Willowbrook (a rescue/rehab facility where I’ve sent several orphaned or abandoned ducklings). Chicago Bird Collision Monitors is a fantastic organization, made up largely of volunteers. Their main job is to find birds downtown that have been stunned by flying into buildings, and rescuing them. But they go all over the Chicago area rescuing wildlife in trouble.


A spider from Jorg Driesener:

A friend of mine, Peter Simpkin,  suggested I send you some photos of wildlife I have taken in my yard in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  I don’t know the scientific names of the animals, but I enjoy macro photography and thus take photos at every opportunity.

If you know the spider, weigh in below:

From Tim Anderson:

Messier 16 is a bright emission nebula in the Serpens constellation. This image was compiled from forty 180-second frames captured with a 100mm refracting telescope and a colour astronomical camera.
In the centre of the image is a structure known as “The Pillars of Creation“, made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope:

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 1, 2020 • 8:00 am

According to our new policy, both landscapes and photos of people count as “wildlife.” That’s good because it enables me to post some lovely photos.

This batch comes from Joe Routon, and the subject is arches.

I’m always excited when I find a scene with an arch—it reminds me of a doorway to something beyond. I imagine passing through the arch and entering something new, something perhaps unknown. It adds anticipation to the photo.  Here are a few of my favorite arch photographs.

A city filled with arches is Florence, Italy. Here’s one at the Palazzo del Bargello, one of my favorite museums in the city.

Also in Florence is a series of arches at the complex of Santa Croce Church, the burial place of Galileo, the composer Rossini, and Machiavelli.

One of my favorite art museums in Florence is the Pitti Palace. I made this picture as we were leaving the museum. I purposely made the colors intense to give it the feeling of a painting.

In Sicily, this is the Ear of Dionysius, a cave carved out of a hill in the city of Syracuse. It was given its name by the painter Caravaggio because of its similarity to a human ear.

Moving to Moscow, here’s my photo of St. Basil Cathedral in Red Square. The turbulent sky and the ominous figure standing at the entrance give the picture a foreboding, almost unsettling, feeling—perhaps a gateway that one would be reluctant to enter.

Looking through this arch in Budapest, we see the Parliament Building.

Going through this arch, you enter the walkway of the Manhattan Bridge in NYC.

In Vacherie, Louisiana, there is an arch leading to the Oak Alley Plantation.

One of my favorite photos, this shows a shepherd with his sheep, after they’ve passed through the arches of an aqueduct in Rome. Watching it was like traveling back in history—I was witnessing something relatively unchanged that had happened every day for thousands of years.

These arches remind me of today in our country’s history. We’re about to enter a doorway into something new, something unknown. Let’s hope that a brighter, happier, more pleasant view awaits us on the other side. Vote!

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 3, 2020 • 7:45 am

Today the wildlife comes from reader Bill Zorn, who sent photos of Homo sapiens in Tibet, a place I once visited (but only Lhasa and its environs). Bill’s captions are indented.

Almost all of my photos are landscapes, but here are a few portraits. I lived in Beijing for several years and did a project on the Three Gorges Dam. I went to Iran in 2005 to photograph for a project on ‘rituals’, and some of the Tibet photos were for that.  Most of these photos were taken with a 4×5 field camera. I did the processing and printing.
A boy at a Tibetan Buddhist festival:

A Buddha (Siddhartha?) statue:

This is a living buddha, Kan Da, in Qinghai, China. He’s standing where 400 years ago, a monk sat for 60 days, taking no food, no water, then turned into a crow and flew away. apparently this practice has fallen out of favor and there are no recent instances to report.

Tibetan girls:

Buddhist monk with prayer beads:

Young monks and prayer drums:

Tibetan cowgirl (yakgirl?):

Woman in alley, Yazd, Iran:

Mother and child, Wu Gorge, China:

Workers, Qutang Gorge, China:

Old man, Peisha:

Boatman, Madu River, China:

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 28, 2020 • 7:45 am

Today’s lovely photos of spiders come from regular Tony Eales of Queensland, and I’ve indented his comments and IDs. Please send in your good wildlife photos, as the tank is getting lower. . .

Spring is in the air and I’m hoping to get out and find some interesting species of peacock jumping spiders this season. However, it has still been pretty cold of late, and I haven’t got out as much as I’d like, so I went through some old photos looking for something interesting to send. I thought I’d feature one of my favourite spider families, the Theridiidae. These are familiar spiders to many, as some species have taken to living in human habitations and are responsible for many of the cobwebs in the corners of houses. Also, the medically significant Black Widow and Australian Red-back Spiders are part of this group.

First up is the Australian Dewdrop Spider, Argyrodes antipodianus. These are kleptoparasites in the webs of other, usually orb-weaving spiders. They are extremely common in the giant webs of Golden Orb-weavers, Trichonephilia plumipes. Pictured here are a male and female T. plumipes. The giant webs of the females are home to a virtual ecosystem of kleptoparasites including the male golden orb-weaver and often several different species of Argyrodes. These scroungers are well tolerated by the large females as they tend to take prey under the size that she is interested in. However they can be a real problem for smaller females or other spiders as they can steal a detrimental amount of food, causing the spider to move her web to get away from them.

Next is a beautiful undescribed spider, one of a group of small cryptic Theridiids that live under leaves. I am informed that when someone does work on the group, these will likely end up in the genus Chrysso, which currently has no recognised species in Australia but many in east Asia and the American tropics. I really can’t understand how these tiny spiders often have a small clutch of eggs that seem bigger than they could possibly lay.

Next are a couple of Euryopis. They genus are specialist ant predators. The first one, E. umbilicata, lives under bark on gum trees and dashes out to ambush passing ants that are constantly going up and down the trunk. The next is an undescribed species that seems to actively hunt out in the open, I often see it on fences and railings. Euryopis are easy to recognise by their small cephalothorax, large abdomen ,and their legs arranged splayed out in a ‘swept-back’ fashion that looks like they are heading into a strong wind. I don’t know what it is about this arrangement, but they are preternaturally fast and able to run down ants which is no small feat. And they are fearless with respect to prey. As the photo shows, this one has caught a large ~12mm Myrmecia nigrocincta (Jumping Jack Ant) which are no shrinking violets as predators themselves.

The webs of Theridiids are very complex with threads at all angles, they look messy to us, giving them one common name of Tangle Web Spiders, but they are very efficient traps. They also make fantastic nurseries for the eggs and spiderlings. Here is a photo of a Parasteatoda sp. mum guarding her eggs in the centre of a pile of grass seeds, prey husks and litter to distract any predators away from the her charges.

There are a lot of strange tiny Theridiids in all sorts of places that we miss. This sp. was found in leaf litter where a multitude of tiny Theridiids all make their home. The members of this subfamily have these strange enamel-looking patches and sometimes weird humps or turrets from their abdomen.

Next is a Steatoda sp., the genus of classic house spiders known commonly as False Widow Spiders. The light patches on the abdomen on this specimen glowed under UV light, which is strange for a spider but common in scorpions.

Finally, my favourite of the Theridiids, the Mirror Spider. This is a Black-spotted Mirror-spider Thwaitesia nigronodosa. I’ve sent photos of these before, but they are a difficult spider to photograph well. I think I’m getting better at it, so here’s a more recent shot. The silver in Mirror Spiders and in Argyrodes species comes from deposits of guanine as explained in this article.

Readers’ photos

August 18, 2020 • 7:45 am

Remember that I will consider photos of nearly every subject, so long as they’re good. I count everything on the planet as “honorary wildlife.”

The wildlife in this post are specimens of Homo sapiens, again photographed by Joe Routon. His notes are indented:

When I carry my camera, I’m always looking for something that’s beautiful. There’s so much ugliness and turmoil in the world today—I need beauty to maintain my sanity. A favorite subject of mine is the dance, one of the most beautiful and inspiring art forms in the world.

Through ballet, the human body is transformed magically into a thing of great beauty.

In my travels, I look for opportunities to photograph dancers, usually folk dancers in foreign countries. This is a traditional folk dancer I photographed in Thailand.
Here are two Malaysian dancers I photographed.
Here is a folk dancer from the Ballet Folklórico whom I photographed in Mexico City.
This photo shows folk dancers I photographed in India. I was not able to ascertain the meaning or this dance, which was unlike anything I’d ever seen.
In today’s hectic world, we need to be mindful and aware of the beauty around us. It’s there—we just have to take the time to see it.

Reader’s photos

July 30, 2020 • 7:45 am

We’re now accepting photos that aren’t of wildlife, but simply specimens of good photography (note emphasis on “good”). If you have some nice photos, send them in, though of course they will be vetted.

Today’s photos, which feature light, come from reader Dave, and I’ve indented his captions. Dave’s website is here.

My primary subject-matter is the manipulation of light; or, rather, to reveal reality as it exists in concurrence with our common experience. The photographs aim to illustrate Nature’s inherent movements by extracting expressions in static, aesthetic forms.

Trees in the light of a certain sunset., ©DSF_ All Rights Reserved.
 Canopies of spring., ©DSF_ All Rights Reserved.
Berries branching., ©DSF_ All Rights Reserved.
Waterfallen leaves., ©DSF_ All Rights Reserved.
From a Utah mountainside., ©DSF_ All Rights Reserved.