Readers’ wildlife photographs

Keep those photos coming in, folks; I’ll be here all year.  Our first few come from (who else?) reader Stephen Barnard from Idaho:

Here’s a better photo (I think) of the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) chicks than one I sent before, and two more photos of mama hawk (I believe), guarding the nest. She’s a beautiful dark morph.



The next photo is Desi keeping an eye on the nest from an unusual perch. When I saw him there, and no chicks were visible in the nest, I thought they might have fledged, but they didn’t.


Here’s a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) that had just eaten a small fish.


Finally, this Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) dove into the creek, perched in a Russian Olive tree, and shook himself off, but he’s still wet.


And a landscape:

A couple of years ago I seeded several acres near my house with native wildflowers and grasses. It’s starting to look good. This is predominately blue flax (Linum lewisii).

Landscape June 7

And these photos come from reader Don Bredes, who sent the moose photo and tanager photos in late May:

This gangly yearling paid us a visit earlier this week. Probably his (or her) mama has driven him off now that she’s about to give birth again.
We have a large population of moose here in northern Vermont. We see plenty of tracks and once in a while a noble specimen or two.  Alces alces is the largest animal in North America. While a large whitetail deer can weigh up to 300 pounds, a large bull moose can weigh up to 1800 pounds and stand 6 1/2 feet at the shoulder.  The sight of an ambling bull is truly impressive.
Moose in New England have declined quite a lot in numbers recently, particularly to the east of us in New Hampshire and Maine, because warmer winters have allowed the blood-sucking ticks–a real plague–to remain active throughout the winter, so the moose must endure blood loss during all three stages of the tick’s life, larvae, nymph, and adult. The calves tend to suffer the highest mortality.



The scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea) is generally a secretive bird, a denizen of the forests more often heard than seen, according to David Sibley.  One visited our place high in the wooded hills of northern Vermont yesterday afternoon and stuck around for an hour or so.  Vivid against the pastels of early spring.  They’re avid insectivores.  This one may have been attracted by the golden dung flies that arrived with the load of cow manure delivered last week by my dairy farmer neighbor—I don’t know.

They don’t stay here long.  Sibley says they breed in May in June and start migrating back to the tropical forests of Central and South America in July.

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  1. Posted June 16, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Wow…. amazing photo…..🌷

  2. Randy Schenck
    Posted June 16, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    A really nice seeded area there and will provide great cover. I stopped mowing a couple of acres and just let the grass go. Saw a rabbit yesterday and have not seen one here for years. If I can get out of this CRP business with the government, hope to try some of the seeding here.

  3. Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Great shots all around. Thanks!

    Love the landscape shot Stephen. Looks very green there now. Lots of snow and rain the past winter/spring?

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      We have a pretty good (but not great) snowpack and a wet spring.

      • Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        I love wet springs out west!

      • Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        In mid-July 2013, my family and I drove I-90 from Missoula to Albert Lea, MN (we went up US 12 over Lolo Pass to Missoula from Lewiston/Clarkston).

        I had never, in all the times I’ve driven I-90 from the midwest to the west coast (more than 20) seen the high plains so green. It was green all across Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota.

  4. Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Stephen, could you share more on the seeding project your did? Planting technique, species, time of planting.

    We have some pretty burned out sections of our place in Washington (over grazing mainly before we bought it) and I would like to get something similar going.

    We are at 2200 feet, about 100 miles inland, just east of the Cascade Crest, just on the WA-OR border.

    I tried to seed california poppies (about 2 pounds of seed) and didn’t get a single plant. I think 2200 feet is just above their range where we are.

    We do get the blue flax (Linum lewisii), also some native lupines (two different blue-ish species, Lupinus latifolius, Lupinus micranthus), Balsam root (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), vetch (Vicia villosa), and bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus), among others.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      I tilled the area and sprayed with Roundup in the spring. Then I installed irrigation using handlines. (The area used to be farmed.) After waiting for the Roundup to do its job on the weeds I broadcast the seed mix. I had to do a great deal of spot spraying to keep the weeds down.

      I got the seed from The Nature Conservancy, who got it from:

      Western Native Seed
      PO Box 188
      Coaldale, CO 81222

      The seed mix included the following species, chosen to be attractive to pollinators. (Your area may require a different mix).

      Castilleja flava
      Yellow Paintbrush

      Penstemon eatonii
      Firecracker Penstemon

      Cleome Serrulata
      Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

      Aciepias speciosa
      Showy Milkweed

      Epilobium augustafoliom

      Linum perenne v. lewisii
      Blue Flax APPAR

      Viguiera multiflora
      Showy Goldeneye

      Balsomorhiza sagattata
      Arrowleaf Balsamroot

      Sphaeralcea munroana
      Munroe Glovemallow

      Penstemon rydbergii
      Rydberg’s Penstemon

      Penstemon venustus
      Blue Mountain Penstemon

      • Posted June 16, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Thanks very much for the detailed information Stephen; this is very helpful.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted June 16, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          jb – I wonder if fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) might be something for your place. It does well in adverse places like roadside cuts. If it would, you’d have lovely red-pink fields.

          • Posted June 16, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            We do get fireweed; but more in wetter areas.

            The area where our place is is all micro climates, depending on elevation and aspect primarily. We have western red cedar (Thuja plicata) growing next to Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) growing next to Grand fir (Abies grandis) (and sometimes even Pacific Silver fir (Abies amabilis) growing next to Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) growing next to bigleaf maple (Acer macrophylla), all intermixed with dry prairie areas and damp intermittent creek bottoms.

            I’m looking for native wild flowers for the prairie areas. The wooded parts are in good shape.

            And then, about the tons (literally) of barbed wire that remains to be removed …

            • Hempenstein
              Posted June 16, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

              Interesting about the micro-climates. I guess you’re just at the beginning of where things start to dry out more as you head east.

              Best wishes for making your place look nicer, in any event! (As I head off to plant some daylilies.)

              • Posted June 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

                “I guess you’re just at the beginning of where things start to dry out more as you head east.”

                Exactly correct!

                We’ve just about stopped planting daylilies in MN here becasue the d#*%d deer eat all the flowers and buds. We are about to install fencing around the daylilies — which defeats the purpose to some degree.

  5. Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    The scarlet tanager is one of the most beautiful US birds, always a pleasure to see. Recent molecular evidence shows that it is not really a tanager: it is actually more closely related to cardinals and grosbeaks than to the colorful Neotropical tanagers,mountain-tanagers, honeycreepers, dacnis, etc!

    Some tropical “cardinals”, on the contrary, turn out to be tanagers. Wild times for bird taxonomy.


    • Posted June 21, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      It is the “little red bird on lonely moor”.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted June 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    That landscape would be a terrific subject for a painting.

    Sad to hear about the moose decline; there are so many bad implications with global warming. That tanager sure is beautiful.

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