We are seriously low on readers’ wildlife photos, and I’m getting quite nervous. Do me a favor and send in your good photos; don’t make me beg! If I have to, I’ll play the my-content-is-free-so-please-send-some-pictures-in-return card.
Today we have contributions from two readers—some photos and a video. The photos come from reader John Egloff, who admits that they’re not the greatest pictures; but I thought they were worthwhile posting, as one rarely sees these nocturnal creatures even though many of us live among them. John’s captions are indented.
In response to your request for more wildlife photos, I admit to being a bit intimidated by the stunning quality of the photos submitted by others that have appeared on your website. Although the attached photos aren’t of that quality, I thought your readers might enjoy seeing these pictures of a nocturnal animal that most people never see and (as was originally the case with me) may not even realize is native to the Midwest.
Several years ago, I was living on the third floor of an apartment building on the far north side of Indianapolis that backed up to a woods and river where the wildlife was plentiful. One evening, after dark, I was grilling on my back patio when something plopped onto the bird feeder a few feet from my head, startling me. When I turned to look, my first impression was that a mouse, or perhaps even a rat, had jumped onto the feeder. I watched the creature munch on sunflower seeds for a few minutes when, to my surprise, it simply leapt off of my birdfeeder, some 25 or 30 feet in the air, into the darkness.
Looking through one of my handy wildlife reference books, I discovered that what I had seen was a Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus). Although I had (mistakenly) considered myself to be pretty knowledgeable about our local wildlife, I had been under the impression that flying squirrels were something that existed in the tropics – and certainly not in Indiana.
I soon discovered that these flying squirrels were coming to my birdfeeder every evening as soon as it grew dark. Perhaps because we were up so high, they didn’t seem to be the least bit afraid of people, and on one occasion when my father was visiting he even (foolishly) reached out and petted one!
Because it was dark, when the squirrels leapt from my birdfeeder I couldn’t really see them “fly.” In order to try to capture that, I set up a camera and flash on a tripod and aimed the camera into the darkness in the direction where the squirrels seemed to go. As soon as they leapt from the feeder, I would fire the camera and flash. Although I ended up with a lot of photos with no squirrel (or sometimes half a squirrel), I did manage to get several shots of the squirrels in flight. The photos aren’t the sharpest because it was dark and I had to simply guess at a pre-set focal point; they’re also a bit grainy because the image has been enlarged.
Good enough; such photos are quite rare.
And now some videos from reader John Crisp:
Here’s an amazing whale encounter we had on the Fram [JAC: A Hurtigruten polar ship, similar to but smaller than the one I was on last year] in January this year. We were surrounded by an estimated 200 humpback whales (counted by the resident whale researcher). Sorry about the human noises – not just tourists, but half the crew were on the deck, so unusual was the experience! Nonetheless, the roaring of the whales is awe-inspiring. My apologies for the last 20 seconds, where I lost the plot. I should probably edit them…
John added this:
If you think it is suitable for a family show, I also have some remarkable footage of copulating lions…
I’ve asked for that footage but just got it a few minutes ago. The captions:
Lions mating in the Masai Mara. Somewhat voyeuristically, we watched for a while. During the time when a female is receptive, the pair may mate every 20 minutes and up to 50 times in a 24-hour period.
It is a noisy and apparently antagonistic affair! Watch these two:
This one shows afterglow, but no cigarettes:
And a nursing lioness: