Readers’ wildlife photos

It’s been a while since we’ve had a collection of photos from Stephen Barnard in Idaho, though I’ve posted his documentation of The Gadwell Clan. Here are some non-duck photos with his captions:

I look for these Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) when I’m fishing. When they show up in numbers (which they do most mornings and evenings this time of year), there’s going to be a mayfly spinner fall. I caught this Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) about half an hour after I shot the nighthawk photo, using a fly that’s an imitation of the mayflies in the next two photos: a female and male trico (Tricorythodes) respectively.

 The male:

Tricos (genus Tricorythodes, species unknown) have an interesting life cycle. The male duns emerge at night and roost in the vegetation, where they molt into spinners and fly out to meet the emerging female duns, like this one. It happens in the morning, before the brutal midday sun can dry them out. You can almost set your watch by it. Tomorrow it will start about 9am, but will move later as the days shorten.

After the females mate, they molt to become spinners. They fall on the water to lay eggs, and they might even take off again for another go, but soon they’re spent and the fishing gets interesting. These mayflies are tiny but there are millions of them, and I think they must be tasty. Trout abandon their usual territorial behavior and gather into pods, aligned on prime feeding lanes, hoovering rafts of tricos from the surface.

This photo is a bunch of male spinners, distinguished from the females by their black abdomens. Another sexual dimorphism is the length of the tail, which is far longer in the male, as shown in the photos above. They’re called “tricos” because they have three tails. Most mayflies have two.

These two photos were sent yesterday:

While I’m sending fish photos, here’s a brown trout (Salmo trutta) I caught about 1/2 hour ago. This is a decent fish even by New Zealand standards.

Male Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus):



  1. Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Very interesting! Excellent pictures and great descriptions.

  2. bric
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    tweet of the day

    • bric
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Sorry, meant to be in the Hili Dialog thread

  3. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Cool pics and narrative Stephen. Not sure why you need to keep coming to NZ when you can get fish like this in your backyard! (Not that I’m complaining of course.)

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      That brown trout would be an average fish in NZ. It did, however, fight much harder than browns of the same size I caught on South Island. The rainbows on North Island were demon fighters. It’s my experience that, pound for pound, rainbows are more aggressive fighters.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I’ll add that NZ has charms aside from fishing.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted July 16, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Thank you! 🙂

  4. rickflick
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Great bird shot. I wonder if the nighthawks will go for your lure when you cast?

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen them pick insects off the water. Swallows to the same, and more frequently. But I doubt that they’d be fooled by an artificial fly (not a “lure”!) in the air or in the water. There’s a tiny risk of snagging one, but they’re pretty good at keeping a distance.

      I’ve caught several seagulls and a bat when fishing. It’s not pleasant, especially the seagulls. They struggle and bite when you free them. I had one, hooked in the foot, break free and drive a barbed treble hook deep into my hand. (This was in remote Michoacán.) The bats around here are known to carry rabies. You just cut them off. A fishing companion hooked and air-landed a huge albatross in Christmas Island. I think I have a photo somewhere.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Whew! I never knew fishing could be so hazardous.

        • Ann German
          Posted July 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          Just ask a fish.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted July 15, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          Jerry has mentioned to me a close friend, and a legendary angler, who died while fishing.

          • rickflick
            Posted July 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

            Not a bad way to go.

  5. Dale Franzwa
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Great pics Stephen. I admire your trout fishing adventures. It’s been several years since I fished trout. My time is spent on the ocean these days, fishing from my boat.

    You probably don’t need this advice but I’ll proffer it anyway. Next time you snag a bird and grab it, throw a towel over its head with your free hand. Seems to calm down the bird so you can untangle it more easily. We have a lot of birds to deal with out here on the Pacific.

    Tight lines.

  6. Diane G.
    Posted July 16, 2017 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    Great pics (as always) and thanks for all the info on (and terminology associated with) that mayfly genus! Very interesting!

    Did you take that penultimate trout pic underwater?

    Superb BIFs! Don’t you love how tiny hummingbird feet are?

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