Readers’ wildlife photos

October 20, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos are from Tony Eales in Queensland, and are a combination of culture, landscapes, and animals. Tony’s captions are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

I just got back from a short trip to the outback to attend and celebrate the Koa People’s successful struggle for recognition of their continuing native title rights in the Winton area of my state. My job is to assist Aboriginal traditional owner groups in their legal battles to have their native title rights recognised by the Commonwealth of Australia, so it was a good day for us as an organisation as well as the Koa.

I spent some time in Bladensburg National Park on Koa country prior to the hearing and drove out there and back some 1400 km each way so it was a big week. Here are some of the sights.

On the way out, my wife and I passed through the small town of Muttaburra. It was a bit of a detour but is the home of the rather musically named dinosaur Muttaburrasaurus langdoni (seen here in statue form at the Muttaburra discovery centre, holding hands with my wife).

Where we camped in Bladensburg was very dry with little life around but at night the lights attracted a wide variety of beetles, bugs, moths and lacewings including this very beautiful thread-wing lacewing, Austrocroce mira.

At night things came more alive with many wolf spiders, visible by their eye shine, dramatically striped native cockroaches, and large huntsman spiders—to single out a few.

My friend suspects some of the wolf spiders like this one may be Allocosa sp. but the huge diversity of Lycosids in Australia are currently being reviewed and removed from European genera and given new taxonomic labels.

Daytime was the time for birds and when we could appreciate the dramatic landscape.

EmusDromaius novaehollandiae:

White-breasted woodswallows: Artamus leucorynchus:

I watched this immature Grey Shrike-thrushColluricincla harmonica, work hard at removing the cottony thread from a seed by wedging the seed in the fork of a bush and pulling the hair away.

At the few water holes, you could sit and wait for the seed eating birds to come in to drink. Zebra Finches, Taeniopygia guttata, are never far from surface water and could help you survive. If you hear them, you know there must be some water nearby.

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 12, 2021 • 8:00 am

Okay, folks, I’m starting to get a bit desperate, so send in your good wildlife photos ASAP, lest this feature die.

Today, though, we have a diverse batch of photos from reader Ken Phelps. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

The first two are a sequence of a spider killing and then starting to wrap a freshly caught fly. [JAC: does anyone know the species?]

 

The next two are a spider returning to a previously stored meal. In the second shot I focused on the web being excreted from the spider’s stern (possibly not the exactly correct term).

La Bee en Rose.

A somewhat blase Barred Owl [Strix varia] on a telephone wire:

An abstract, derived from ice on a mud puddle.

Ice on a melting snow bank, creating a bird.

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 8, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your wildlife photos AND PHOTOS OF YOUR POLYDACTYLOUS CAT, if you have one (two photos please: cat and its paw, and please give name of cat and a few details). Thank you. The cats will be featured tomorrow.

Today’s wildlife photos come from Mark Sturtevant, whose ID’s and links are indented. You can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Here are pictures taken early in the 2020 bug season.

A friend down the street called to say their dog had a large tick on them, and would I like to have it? Yes I would! So off I went to collect it. As expected, this is the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), well engorged with its last blood meal.

I kept her around for a couple weeks, and sure enough she eventually produced an egg mass, as shown next. The eggs are crowded around the head because her reproductive opening is immediately underneath. By honored tradition, of course the entire family went down the loo afterwards.

The tiny insects shown in the next two pictures are minnow mayflies (Callibaetis sp.). The female looks pretty ordinary, but the males sport weird compound eyes that are thought to have evolved to look for females. 

A hike in the spring woods produced this lovely male jumping spiderPhidippus whitmani. The little guy was pretty restless, so a lot of pictures had to be taken—but it was worth it. 

The unpleasant looking critter shown next is a focus-stacked picture of an antlion larva (possibly Brachynemurus abdominalis). These are famous for digging a conical pit in sandy soil, and lying in wait at the bottom to trap passing ants and other small insects.

A detail worth noting here is that the reflective plastic lets you see a nice detail about their mandibles. Do you see the dark stripe on the underside of the mandibles? Those are the maxillae, which are the next set of mouthparts for insects. In antlions the maxillae are nestled into a groove under the mandible, and together the mandibles and maxillae form a hollow tube which is used to inject digestive enzymes into their prey, and to then drain them dry. 

The next picture shows an adult antlion, most likely the same species as the larva. One can well appreciate that these are commonly called long-tailed antlions! 

Back to the woods. The lovely caterpillar shown next is the larva of the copper underwing moth (Amphipyra pyramidoides). I flush out a lot of the adult moths of this species when doing yard work, although I’ve never gotten around to photographing one.

Rounding up the invertebrates is an early-season stonefly (Acroneuria sp.). These strange insects have an aquatic larval stage, and one can find large numbers of them along rivers over a brief interval in the spring.  

I rarely photograph vertebrates, but here is a very ill-tempered snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) that was wandering the woods. S(he) would repeatedly turn to follow me, lunging and snapping its jaws with a definite “clomp”!  

And finally, here is a very kindly toad, possibly the eastern American toad (Anaxyrus americanus). But getting staged pictures of this little one was a lesson in what Hobbes said in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip: “They drink water all day just waiting for someone to pick them up”.  

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 1, 2021 • 8:00 am

I have a queue of photos, so if you haven’t seen yours yet, please be patient. And of course I can always use more.

Today’s photos are by Tony Eales from Queensland. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

I’m headed to the outback next week so with luck I’ll have some cool things to share when I get back. For now I have a grab bag of reasonably recent shots of this and that.

I’ll start with a new mimic for me. This is one of several jewel beetles that mimic the presumably very unpalatable lycid beetles. This is the most widespread species being found in every mainland state of Australia, mainly across the southern half: Castiarina rufipennis.

And is the model, Porrostoma rhipidius. Very common in spring.

These are tiny Monomorium sp. known as Timid Ants. But they’re struggling mightily with this seed.

One of our common species of fish that lives in both brackish and fresh water. Pseudomugil signifer Pacific Blue Eye. They are a popular aquarium fish here and a member of the colourful family of Gondwanan and mostly Sahulian freshwater fish Melanotaeniidae, known commonly as Rainbowfish. Unfortunately, these blue-eyes are being driven out by the imported Gambusia mosquitofish. These Central American fish are livebearing and eat the scattered eggs of rainbowfish like Blue eyes as well as occupying the same niche.

As everyone should know by now, I love spiders. However, I’m also fascinated by the fungi that prey on them. This is probably Gibellula sp.

Finally, an orchid I’ve seen plenty of times in the rainforest near me but never caught flowering before. It is an epiphyte, Plectorrhiza tridentata, the Common Tangle Orchid.

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 24, 2021 • 8:00 am

I have returned, and I hope that some of you have accumulated wildlife photos to send me for the cache. Now is the time!

Today’s contribution of spider photos is from Tony Eales of Queensland. His notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Spider guru Dr Robert Raven, Head of Terrestrial Biodiversity & Senior Curator of Chelicerata at the Queensland Museum, has been telling me for some time now that the way to survey for spiders is to leave your diesel engine running for a while, and the spiders will come crawling out of the surroundings like hypnotised zombies. I had tried this a few times with little success, but recently I tried it on some sandy loam in coastal heath near Bundaberg, Queensland, and it worked beyond my wildest expectations.

Big spiders, little spiders, huntsmans and jumpers and especially ground spiders all came out toward the car. As did a lot of native cockroaches. And at one site the engine vibrations seemed to induce a bunch of spiders to compulsively climb a small tree near the car. I can’t wait to try it again.

Here’s a small sample of some of the things that came running to the siren call of the diesel engine.

One of the larger spiders to come out (around 20mm) and an unusual one. Asadipus sp. There are only seven observations of this genus on iNaturalist. It comes from an Australasian family Lamponidae which has the undeserved reputation of giving necrotic bites, though there is no solid evidence for this idea.

This little guy is probably Epicharitus sp or something related. This genus of striking black and white spiders belongs to the family Gnaphosidae. This is a varied cosmopolitan family known rather unhelpfully as Ground Spiders. [JAC: Wikipedia notes that “Epicharitus is a monotypic genus of Australian ground spiders containing the single species, Epicharitus leucosemus.”, so that may be the species.]

This one is Mituliodon tarantulinus, also knowns as the Little Tarantula even though it’s not remotely related to tarantulas. It’s in the family Miturgidae with the ominous common name of Prowling Spiders.

This is a juvenile wolf spider (Lycosidae). As it’s so young, it’s hard to guess at the ID. Quite pretty, though.

By far the most common family attracted to the car were members of the family Zodaridae AKA Ant Spiders. This one is Habronestes hunti and the next two are ones I have yet to get an ID for.

And lastly a couple of the spiders that climbed the small tree in response to the engine vibrations. Hamataliwa sp from the Lynx Spider family Oxyopidae.

And a lovely male Helpis minitabunda: A jumping spider, family Salticidae.

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 16, 2021 • 8:00 am

I haven’t yet decided whether to post wildlife photos for the week I’m in Boston, as photos sent to me there to replenish my waning stock might get lost. If you have some good photos to send, and I hope you do, please hold onto them until late next week.

Today’s photos come from Peter Sansun in England, whose ID’s and caption are indented. You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

Here are a few sample nature pictures that you may wish to consider for publication. The bird pictures were all taken within a short walk from my home here in the UK,  on the outskirts of London.

I have included the Linnean names (where known) in the picture titles.

Barnacle goose (Brantia leucopsis):

Eurasian coot chick (Fulica atra):

Cygnetsof the Mute swan (Cygnis olor):

Green  (ring necked?) parakeets (Psittacula krameri).  The putative origins of this feral population are quite amusing; see here.

Marsh warbler (Acrocephalus palustris):

European robin (Erithacus rubecula):

Spider web droplets:

Heath lobelia (Lobelia urens):

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 25, 2021 • 8:00 am

Keep those photos coming in, folks (or, as it’s spelled now—for reasons that elude me—”folx”).

Today we have one of my favorite arthropods, jumping spiders. The photos come from Tony Eales of Queensland, whose notes are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Just a quick one to celebrate the fact I photographed my first Maratus volans.

The is THE classic Peacock Jumping Spider, widespread along the south-eastern seaboard of Australia. They are also one of the most colourful, but that can be relative in a genus with so many colourful species. Next things to tick off are photographs of a male displaying and to photograph the other local species, Maratus ottoi. A friend of mine has spent 6 years trying to get a photograph of M. ottoi displaying and finally got a beautiful shot last weekend.

Much to the disgust of many of my Peacock Jumping Spider obsessed friends, two common and fairly dowdy jumping spiders have been shifted from genus Hypoblemum to the Peacock Spider genus Maratus. This had the effect of instantly upping lots of people’s peacock spider counts from zero to two. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the purists. I present my photos of these two new members of the elite genus. I think they are quite nice.

Maratus griseus male:

Maratus griseus female:

Maratus scutulatus male:

Maratus scutulatus female:

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 21, 2021 • 8:00 am

PLEASE send in your wildlife photos, as I have only a few days’ worth before I run out. You wouldn’t want that to happen, do you? Please make sure they’re good pics, of the quality that we see on this feature.

Today we have a melange of photos from several readers. Their captions are indented and you can enlarge their photos by clicking on them.

First, a yellow garden spider from Killian Sharp:

Argiope aurantia was just relaxing in its web amongst my friend’s tomato plants in SW Ontario.

From Julia Sculthorpe:

I have been taking pictures of wildlife in the various wildlife refuges in the Denver metro area. These were taken in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

The dragonfly and toad blend into their surroundings. The toad was very hard to photograph as he jumped at  almost any moment I made.

 

Can you spot the toad and dragonfly (the insect is easier)?

From Laurie Berg:

Immature eagle with former mouse

From Rachel Sperling:

I was saving this photo for when I had more to share, but I saw your request this morning. I’m pretty sure this is a dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus). I encountered it on the New York section of the Appalachian Trail earlier this month. In addition to insects (not sure what type of beetle this one has caught) larger ones are able to catch fish. According to Wikipedia, their bodies are covered with hydrophobic hairs that allow them to run on water (suck it, Jesus). When they submerge, the air trapped in these hairs becomes a thin film, allowing them to breathe underwater; the air makes them quite buoyant, so they have to hold onto a twig or a rock in order to stay submerged. I think they’re really cool.

Also sharing a photo I took last night of the ALMOST full strawberry moon. This is from a park in Meriden, Connecticut, which has a lovely ridge that offers views to the east and west. This was taken around 8:30.

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 4, 2021 • 8:00 am

We’re running seriously low on readers’ photos. Just sayin’ . . . .

But today we have a nice set of insect photos (and one spider shot) by Alan Clark from Liverpool, England. His captions are indented and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

I have lived here nearly 40 years, but I have never seen the first three species before this summer.

Swollen-Thighed Beetle, Oedemera nobilis. Only the males have those impressive thighs.

Malachite Beetle, Malachius bipustulatus:

Varied Carpet Beetles, Anthrenus verbasci:

This photo of Painted Lady Butterflies, Vanessa cardui, on Buddleja davidii, [the butterfly bush] is a composite made from the best of over 50 photos, most of which were inevitably out of focus. I was amused by the show-off bee in the bottom right corner!

A Marmalade HoverflyEpisyrphus balteatus. Four images were stacked together to give better depth of field.

A Green Shield Bug, Palomena prasina:

Another Hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii, with Cephalaria gigantea [the Giant Scabious]:

And finally some adorable newly hatched spiderlings on my wheelie bin, Araneus diadematus, the European Garden Spider. They are very different from the adults.

JAC: I’ve put a picture of the adults below (taken from Wikipedia): first a female, then a male:

Readers’ wildlife photos

July 23, 2021 • 8:00 am

Our tank is running low, and I’m afraid we’re down to readers who sent in one or a few photos. That’s fine, but I must group them together, as I will today. Please send in your batches (10-15 if possible) of good wildlife photos.  This is an urgent call for photos!

Contributors’ captions and IDs are indented; you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

First up is reader Michael Hart, with two photos.

My wife’s stargazer lilies (Lilium sp. hybrid) went wild this year. It has been hot here in Vancouver – I guess lilies must like the heat. This one (photographed at night) is >2 meters tall.

It took a couple weeks, but the flowers have finally been colonized by crab spiders. This may be Misumena vatia, but I’m not sure because it lacks the pink racing stripes on the opisthosoma that I see in some of the field guides. Maybe others will know the ID.

It costs me a lot to look up these spiders because I have a bad phobia. I like these little thomisids and the salticids, but I have to skip over the photos of the big hunting spiders. There is something about the size of my hand that lives in one of the boxes of garden tools (probably one of the Eratigena species), and I’m staying away from it. We found a dead mouse in that box last spring, and I’m concerned that spider has developed a taste for mammals.

From Larry LeClair:

As requested, I send photos of four fledgling Eastern Screech-Owls (Megascops asio) taken last week in a neighbor’s maple tree in Hamilton, NY.

From Robert Placier:

Long-time follower of your website, and finally heeding your call for photos. But I’m not very good at it: all these pics taken with my Android phone. I am, like you, retired from teaching. But for me, I was at a 2-year technical college, Hocking College, in Appalachian southeastern Ohio. Essentially a forest ecologist, I taught Dendrology and Ornithology in my last years to wildlife and interpretive naturalist students. I am a bird bander, so all bird photos are from my operations, mostly at my home, which I call the Palatial Woodland Estate. So here are a few, all from SE Ohio.

A photo from my home area, just outside Chillicothe. This is a view of the Paint Creek gorge, formed during the last glaciation. Ross County is where the glacial advance terminated. The ice blocked drainage of Paint Creek, forming a lake which spilled over a low spot in the hills. Virginia Pines (Pinus virginiana) frame the view, and Eastern Hemlocks are found in the gorge below this cliff.

Because of the heavily forested (>70%) nature of my home area, Vinton County, and my banding birds coming to feeders through the winter, I band more Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) than any other bander in central North America (2-4 per year, nearly 30 since 2009). They are tough to hold with one hand, and I work alone, so this is as good a photo as I can produce. And they often bloody my hands—I think a peck wound is visible in this photo. And I do recapture ones I have banded: the longest span between banding and recapture is about eight years.

I band a lot of Wood Thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina) here, some years over 100, during my Spring and Fall migration banding seasons. The total is over 1,000 since I began banding in 2006. They are regular nesters on my eleven forested acres, and I catch ones each Spring that have returned from their winter (here) sojourn in Central America.

A woodland species that has notably increased on my “estate” since coming here in 2005 is American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). And my understanding is that Wood Thrushes feed on the bright red fruit of this species, and are an important seed disperser. Perhaps some of the other thrushes, common migrants here, also play a part in dispersal.