Readers’ wildlife photos

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?

11 Comments

  1. Posted July 31, 2014 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Nice photos Ed!

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 31, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Excellent photos! Did you stack photos to make the butterfly picture? I thought it would be impossible to get a close-up shot at this angle and still get the whole thing in focus.

    • Posted July 31, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      No, that was just dumb luck. I’m still very much an amateur when it comes to photography. I don’t have experience yet with any of the finer techniques of the field, but hopefully someday I will!

  3. Posted July 31, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Nice work, Ed!

    Rather mind-blowing to think that that sea raft is a cousin….

    b&

    • Posted July 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Yeah..It is amazing that the (same?) molecular underpinnings lead to such wild variety. How far back do we have to get to the last common ancestor?

  4. Posted July 31, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks everyone! I’m glad you enjoy the pictures!

  5. Mobius
    Posted July 31, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    “The Creation of the Internet”

    ROFL

    Love it.

  6. Posted July 31, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos, Ed! Have only spent one day on Vancouver Island, driving to Tofino and back from the ferry, but your pics make me even more eager to go back and spend some time!

  7. Posted August 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    The Velella is magnificent! Looks like pastel-coloured blown glass.

  8. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    In Dakin’s “Australian Seashores”, Velella lata [sic] is also known as the ‘By-the-wind sailor’. In the opposite corner of the Pacific, when the EAC bends inshore with a sea breeze behind it, there are days of Blue Pelagic Things at the beach – my favourite was always the Velella-eating nudibranch Glaucus atlanticus.


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