Readers’ wildlife photographs

Just in: a cool fossil courtesy of reader James Blilie:

This photo isn’t of a living thing; but rather its traces:  A tetrapod trackway in Permian or Carboniferous sedimentary rocks, Cedar Mesa, southern Utah.  2001, Kodachrome 64, probably a Pentax A 20mm f/2.8 lens.  Probably f/11 at 1/125 sec. Pure speculation, but it could be from Eryops, or a similar animal. Scale:  Those marks are probably 3-4 inches in diameter (7.5 – 10 cm). This first (and only) trackway I’ve found “in the wild” on my own.  I might not have noticed it if it hadn’t been for the angle of the sun.

2001_Utah_Cedar_Mesa

Here’s a reconstruction of the large Eryops (up to 3 meters), a semi-aquatic carnivore that lived about 300 million years ago:

1280px-Eryops1DB

Reader Kevin Voges, a retired university professor in New Zealand, sent a photo of a bird I didn’t know existed (or, if I did—and I probably posted about it years ago!—I’ve forgotten). It’s the tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), once called the “parson bird” because of its striking white collar, and it’s endemic to NZ. Kevin’s notes:

Just the one photo from me. We’ve been planting natives on our property in the Wakatipu (New Zealand), as well as trying to keep the predator population down, and I put in some bird feeders. This Tui has just moved in this year, apparently they tend to stay once they’ve arrived. The early Europeans called it the parson bird! The yellow on its head is pollen from a flax plant (you can see them at the back).

Tui is the Maori name, not sure of its origin. The Maori have a range of other names, depending on location and age, but Tui is the most common name. The tufts are called poi. We put sugar water in the feeders (one cup per litre), which helps them through the winter when there are less blossoms about. There are a few food sources on our place, flax and fuchsia, with more on the way as the trees mature, but he obviously likes the sugar as well.

SONY DSC

Kevin adds, “They are good mimics as they have two voice boxes. Apparently the Maori taught them quite complex speeches“. Here’s a video of a permanently injured (and therefore captive) tui named “WoofWoof,” who speaks prolificially in a Kiwi accent, makes kissing noises, and even whistles “Pop goes the weasel”:

And while we’re on birds from down under, reader Ben Batt (who sent us “spot the stone curlew”), provides more photos:

Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius). These birds were quite tame, and would usually just walk away or crouch down and freeze as we approached. They skulk about in an amusingly shifty way, freezing whenever you look at them:

Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius)

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus):

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus):

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)

Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii):

Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina):

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus):

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

 

17 Comments

  1. Hempenstein
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Congrats on the trackway and GREAT koala shot!

  2. Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    That sleeping koala is hilarious! Nice photos Ben!

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    A very interesting line-up. That trackway is a nice find.
    The Stone curlew is a rather odd bird — long legs like a wading bird, and yet it is not. I guess the adaptation also applies to stalking among the grasses.
    That Koala picture is adorable. Clearly the little fellow has found a workable solution to the problem of sleeping in trees.

    • Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      When I first saw the photo I thought it must be a wader. Then when I looked it up, I was surprised to see that it hunts among the grass, its beak looks too short and stubby for that to me. To my recollection, birds that stalk their prey in grass tend to have long, slender beaks, which would be ideal for hunting in that environment.

  4. Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Look at the coloration on those birds!

  5. rickflick
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    I can just imagine spotting that trackway. What a find!

    I’m amazed that the voice of the Tui is so low and resonant. He imitates a human male voice effectively. I’ve had parakeets and they are stuck at a much higher register.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      I was dubious when it said the tui spoke with a Kiwi accent, but it does! In fact, it sounds just like a friend of mine!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 19, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Maybe your friend is really a tui! ;)Think, have you ever seen your friend and a tui in the same place at the same time?

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          I can’t say I have! If he was a bird, I think moa is a more likely candidate though. He’s 6’5″ with skinny legs up to his armpits. Maybe that’s where the moa went – they’re not extinct after all, they hid from the hunters by skin walking?

          There are unconfirmed sightings from time to time, but that’s never been considered an option before. (There are no myths like that in Maoridom.)

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

            Sounds like you have a plot for an interesting story!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 19, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Yeah I didn’t know tui could mimic sounds and this one does it exceptionally well.

  6. Dee
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Wonderful fossil tracks. There’s a lot of petrified wood around that area as well. Be careful about posting the location of those tracks. They look pretty mobile, and are liable to be stolen.

  7. Merilee
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Sub

  8. Mark R.
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I consider fossil tracks as exciting as a fossil skeleton. The evidence that “something walked here hundreds of millions of years ago” really sparks the imagination.

    The description of the Bush Stone-curlew fits the photo perfectly. This is the first time I’ve seen a Koala on WEIT; a very welcome sight!

  9. Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Is there a good theory as to why many birds mimic, or is it just because they can?

  10. Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    It gives us those nice bright colors.

  11. Mary Sheumaker
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Koala sleeping, hilarious that is.
    May the force of the Great Ceiling Cat be with him.


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