Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader John Chardine just returned from a cruise to west Greenland and Labrador, where he’s on the expedition staff and gives lectures, and will soon head off to Antarctica. He’s clearly living my dream! I’m jealous but nevertheless present his nice photos of  shorebirds. His notes are indented:

I’ve just had a chance to get out and photograph the local shorebirds (= “waders” in UK). Several species pass through this area of the Bay of Fundy on their way from the Arctic to overwintering sites all the way down to Brazil. The Semipalmated Sandpiper, pictured here, does this migration in 4 days, non-stop, after doubling its body mass here in the Bay of Fundy.

Sanderling (Calidris alba):

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla). Look at that fat bird!

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla):

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus; immature):

And Stephen Barnard sent a fish photo:

I’ve been catching enormous brown trout (Salmo trutta) in the ponds. This photo shows, I think, how predatory they are. Look at the head!

He adds this gruesome note:

The big brown trout will absolutely take ducklings. I think that’s why ducks don’t nest in the ponds, which are otherwise ideal for them.

20 Comments

  1. rickflick
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    The waders seem to be a challenging group of birds. There are many similar species. You really need a good spotting scope to name what you see. As a beginner, I have much to learn. Wonderful pictures.
    Stephen’s trout looks yummy.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:39 am | Permalink

      Notoriously so! Speaking especially of the sandpipers & allies, esp. the “peeps”.

      I hadn’t thought of the US distinction of “waders” vs. “shorebirds” till John mentioned it. Ah, the fun of common terms. USian waders are the herons, egrets, cranes, and storks. Or as a website I just perused states, “Herons, Egrets, Flamingos, Ibises, Night-Herons, Spoonbill & Stork.” (So not cranes, I guess.) At any rate, usually big, easy to delineate spp. There are far more “shorebird” spp., many fiendishly difficult to ID. (Long-billed vs. Short-billed Dowagers in non-breeding plumage, anyone?)

      Sorry, Rick–I’m just into birds and can’t help regurgitating the little I know…

      • rickflick
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        No need to apologize. I too find regurgitating a compelling relief on occasion. 😎

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          Well please return the favor anytime! 😀

          And actually my second graf was aimed more at any others here who might have wondered about John’s mention of the UK vs. US terminology; not at you because I know you’re already a birder. 🙂

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Just curious – did you put the trout in the pond or someone before you?

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      The people who owned this place before me planted some rainbows and browns that they caught in Silver Creek. Now they spawn naturally in the riffles at the outlet of the upper pond. Both species need cold water flowing over gravel. They can’t spawn in the ponds proper. By the way, rainbows spawn in the spring sand browns spawn in the fall, so they don’t compete for spawning areas

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I had seen a documentary before about how these shorebirds build a lot of weight to prepare for their intense migration. They arrive with considerably less weight and I expect many don’t make it.

    I was wondering if the brown trout was a male, and the jaws were a condition for the spawning season.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      It’s certainly a male. The season is very early for spawning, but the hooked jaws may well be a precursor to the more extreme transformation for spawning. The fish develop that hump behind the head, sometimes called “shoulders”, when they’re very well fed.

      I caught another 22″ brown trout this morning. The ponds have what seems to be a limitless number of large brown trout. I haven’t even caught the biggest ones yet, which may approach 30″ from ones I’ve seen.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Sandpipers look beautiful in their environment of sand, rocks, drift wood and other shoreline detritus. These photos are especially lovely.

    Beautiful Brown trout Stephen. I’m guessing you don’t have many (any?) frogs in the ponds either.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted September 4, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never seen frogs in the ponds, but I’ve occasionally seen them in the creek and in the garden. Toads are more common. This is a pretty cold climate for amphibians and reptiles.

  5. tjeales
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I love shorebirds and how similar many species are, it always makes me feel like if I look at a flock I might see something new and special.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:43 am | Permalink

      I know that feeling! And it’s happened to me a few times.

  6. Matthew North
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Though the idea of a duckling being eaten by a brown trout may be disturbing, a brown trout is the least of a duckling’s worries.

    To quote Wikipedia,

    Mallards of all ages (but especially young ones) and in all locations must contend with a wide diversity of predators including raptors, mustelids, corvids, snakes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, turtles, large fish, felids, and canids, including domesticated ones.[83] The most prolific natural predators of adult mallards are red foxes (which most often pick off brooding females) and the faster or larger birds of prey, i.e. peregrine falcons, Aquila eagles, or Haliaeetus eagles.[84] In North America, adult mallards face no fewer than 15 species of birds of prey, from northern harriers and short-eared owls (both smaller than a mallard) to huge bald and golden eagles, and about a dozen species of mammalian predator, not counting several more avian and mammalian predators who threaten eggs and nestlings.[82]

    Mallards are also preyed upon by other waterside apex predators, such as the grey heron,[85] European herring gull, the wels catfish, and the northern pike.[86] Crows (Corvus spp.) are also known to kill ducklings and adults on occasion.[87] Also, mallards may be attacked by larger anseriformes such as swans (Cygnus spp.) and geese during the breeding season, and are frequently driven off by these birds over territorial disputes. Mute swans (C. olor) have been known to attack or even kill mallards if they feel that the ducks pose a threat to their offspring.[88]

    • Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      Now I’m even more worried about Honey!

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:45 am | Permalink

      This prompts me to ask Stephen what prey Lucy & Desi generally eat.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

        They mostly eat fish, although when I recorded their comings and goings last year I saw them bring a coot and a rabbit to the nest.

        There are hundreds of ducks in the creek now. I commonly see Northern Harriers cruising up and down the creek looking for vulnerable ducks.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

          Interesting about the harriers! I’d have thought ducks might be a bit big for them but apparently not.

          Thanks for the info re your eagles. 🙂

          Are their young still around? I’ve had Red-tailed hawk young still soliciting parental feeding out here just recently (though they’ve fledged, of course).

  7. Dale Franzwa
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Beautiful trout, Stephan. Reminds me a little of a nasty, old Northern Pike (mouth full of vicious teeth). Which reminds me of a true story I read several years ago.

    A guy and his gal friend were driving at night, way out in the back country of one of those northern states dotted with remote little lakes. They stopped at one deserted lake and he talked his companion into doing a little mid-night skinny dipping. Problem, that lake was inhabited by northern pike (I can imagine the hairs rising on the back of your neck). The guy lets out a scream, blood in the water where his missing dangling participle was once located. A pike apparently thought it saw something juicy to eat. His girl friend helped the guy ashore where they managed to stop the bleeding.

    She then went back into the lake, looking for his, uh, missing participle. Amazingly, she managed to spot and retrieve it from the lake bottom. (Remember, she was still naked and having to dive to the bottom. Suppose the pike was still hanging around? Could have lent a whole new meaning to the phrase: “Free the nipple”).

    Anyway, she packs his severed part in ice. Then drove some distance to the nearest hospital emergency room where surgeons managed to somehow sew his, whatever, back where it belonged. The story didn’t say but, I imagine, everything’s in working order again.

    Moral: guys, don’t go skinny dipping in lakes inhabited by vicious northern pike.

  8. Diane G.
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    Wonderful peep–& plover & sanderling–pictures, John! I hope we get pics from Antarctica as well. 🙂

  9. Posted September 5, 2017 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks all! Shorebirds are amongst my most favourite photographic subjects. I promise to send a few images from Antarctica to Jerry!


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