Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Rodger Atkin sent a lovely dragonfly photo from Thailand, which may be a mimic. Though I know of no mimetic dragonflies, I don’t know much about Odonata, and Rodger  asks readers if they know anything about this one. His notes:

This was taken in my yard in Thailand. I have never seen markings like those on any of the dragonflies before, but with the transparent wings with the marking in the centre I think it must be adapted to look like some other much more dangerous insect. I’ve been through my books and trolled the net but was unable to find anything like it.


Reader Tim Anderson sent two photos from Oz:

Attached are a couple of pictures from a recent jaunt along the Great Ocean Road on the south-western coast of Victoria.
A white-cheeked honeyeater (for some reason it appears with two different generic names, Lichenostomus leucotis and Nesoptilotis leucotis, I don’t know which has priority). [JAC: On Wikipedia it appears as Phylidonyris niger]. I found this one sitting in a stiff breeze on a cliff overlooking Bass Strait.


A Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia) in its full glory. Most eucalypts have white or pale cream coloured inflorescences, but this species has varieties that come out in pink, orange, scarlet and crimson.
As an aside, Corymbia (the bloodwoods) was split out of the genus Eucalyptus in the late 1970s, a decision which we foresters regarded at the time with conservative horror. Cladistics, bah, humbug.


Simon Crase sent a photo of a bird from New Zealand, where I’ll be in just a few weeks. I hope to see some wekas (and keas, tuataras, and—if I’m really lucky—kakapos). Wekas (Gallirallus australis) are flightless birds in the rail family (Rallidae), and, like many flightless birds, its conservation status is “vulnerable.”

I noticed a photo of a weka on your website, so I’ve attached a few taken at our place. We definitely have at least one family of wekas on our land, as I have seen Mum, Dad, and a couple of chicks.


Finally, a picture of the Moon taken recently by reader Nicole Reggia. You should be able to name the large crater at about 4:30, and the two dark “seas” at 11 and 12 o’clock:




  1. rickflick
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I can only remember Mare Tranquillitatis – the Sea of Tranquility which was the site of Apollo 11, the first landing. I think it’s the large sea in the upper middle.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Tycho crater is the big crater. The two “seas” that are together are the sea of tranquility and the sea of serenity.

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    If a mimic, it might be going for this (which tastes bad and displays it):

    This sort of net winged beetle is pretty widespread around the world, so maybe there is a similar species in Thailand.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Need there be a specific model? Orange-and-black stripes seem to be a fairly common warning pattern across a variety of taxa. I wonder if there isn’t some structural feature of bird vision that causes prey to converge on this sort of pattern.

      • nicky
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Interesting suggestion, especially since birds are tetrachromatic. Of course, aposematic colouring is nearly by definition striking, even for us poor trichromats.

  4. GBJames
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I’ll come back at 4:30 and see if I can identify that crater.

    I’ll leave now.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      That would be 4:30 Chicago time, right? (And knowing Jerry, it’s probably 4:30 AM.)

      • ploubere
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink


  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Supported by all political parties, the NZ government has a plan to be predator free (they’re all introduced – rats, stoats weasels etc) by 2050. Several smaller islands have already been cleared of predators and native flightless birds introduced back into the environment.

    On a sad note there was a huge fire in one of the few remaining homes of the kakapo yesterday, the Pureora forest. Not sure if it’s out yet (it’s 4am). The cause isn’t known yet, but I think careless tourists is a good bet.

    • Monika
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Ack, this is sad. Kakapos are so wonderfully weird birds.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      I can see the wisdom of maintaining two or more sanctuaries for just such a catastrophe. At higher cost of course.

    • nicky
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that is a wonderful initiative. I note you omit cats, are they not a ‘problem predator’ in NZ?
      I remember reading the story of the ‘Dog from Hell’ by SJ Gould, where a single German Shepard that went feral killed an estimated 80% of the kiwi population in a particular forest in about a year (IIRC). Shows how ‘naive’ island populations are excessively vulnerable to introduced predators.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        Cats are a tricky one. There are some who want to get rid of cats, but like most people, NZers love their moggies and any suggestion to get rid of cats is naturally met with huge protest. One previously beloved public figure started getting death threats from multiple cat staff when he suggested it.

        There are campaigns to try to get owners to be more responsible that have seen an increase in levels of cats being speyed/neuterd which has helped.

        The professionals know more is going to have to be done re cats, but they’re dealing with killing possums, rats etc that no one worries about killing in the meantime. They are the biggest problem when it comes to native birds anyway. Most of the ground nesters are big birds and will fight (and beat) cats, and cats don’t usually go for the eggs either. There’s plenty of other prey for cats that are more plentiful.

        There are some who think cats should go, but I can’t imagine any government ever having the courage to do it even if they wanted to. The rate of cat ownership is extremely high, and no party wants the cat-killer label.

        • nicky
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I know cats are tricky. Of course one can suggest that cats should remain indoors on islands were a fauna evolved without exposure to cat predation. [And even in coutries with cats, the artificially high numbers of cats may cause problems]. Cats easily do go feral. Look, I love cats as much as the next old lady, but we should not close our eyes (not at all implying you do).
          What can we do? How to enforce ‘indoors’? Kill ferals and strays? (sorry for cursing Jerry). Equip them with bells? I really have no good solution.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:01 am | Permalink

            Perhaps with genetic engineering we could produce a cat with a vegetarian diet. 😎

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

            That’s why the focus on getting them de-sexed. If they go feral, at least they die without reproducing.

            NZers would kick up a huge fuss if there was a suggestion they kept their cats inside. It would be barely better than being a cat killer.

            Cats aren’t allowed on those islands that have been cleared so far, but none of those islands have permanent human inhabitants either.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          I remember there being signs in many places in NZ too that reminded people not to let their cats and dogs roam because there were kiwi that lived there.

          I think there is a lot of education in NZ about domestic animals not being allowed to roam that many people (though of course not all) get it and are responsible enough to keep their pets away.

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Cladistics… is one of those things. I too chafe against some of its declarations: insects are crustaceans, flatworms are protostomes. Oh, well, there are worse things about than these.

  7. TPG
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I think the dragonfly is a Yellow-stripped flutterer (Rhyothemis phyllis). I don’t know much about them, and have never read anything about them as mimics. I see them quite regularly in Australia, along with the Graphic Flutterer (Rhyothemis graphiptera), which has a more extensive pattern covering both wings. Interestingly, there isn’t much sexual dimorphism, with females looking the same/very similar. Wikipedia has another flutterer (Rhyothemis variegata) only found in South Asia that looks similar and has clear SD.

    • TPG
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      P.S I dont know how to make text italic in these boxes (is it the same as HTML?), hence the species name not being italicised.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes you can just wrap things between a bracketed “i” and a bracketed “/i”.

    • Dionigi
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Thankyou. I think you have found the answer for me

  8. Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    The confusion with the bird’s name is that it is not a white CHEEKED honey eater but a white EARED honeyeater. Similar name, different species.

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