Readers’ wildlife photos

We have a miscellany today, and the readers’ notes are indented. First, from reader Tim Anderson in Australia, an animal I didn’t know existed:

This is a shingleback lizard (Tilaqua rugosa), named for obvious reasons. It is fairly common in inland areas of eastern Australia. In common with many lizard species, it has the ability to shed its tail if attacked by a predator (the shed tail’s muscles carry on like a pork chop while the residual lizard disappears into the surroundings to grow a new tail).
In the shingleback’s case, as you can see, the head end and the tail end look remarkably similar, which suggests an adaptation that increases the lizard’s chances of survival by enticing the predator to attack the wrong end. In any case, this fella was disinclined to have anything to do with me and rushed off into the undergrowth at a speed that is unusual for a reptile of this type.

A pugnacious squirrel from reader B. Wilson:

The apparently pugilistic squirrel is a Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) in the Columbia Gorge of Oregon.  It is native to eastern North America and introduced in Oregon.  (It was actually washing its head, but I think this
pose is great!)

From Stephen Barnard in Idaho we get a red-tailed hawk dining on a freshly killed a meadow vole:

A theropod (Buteo jamaicensis) eating a primitive mammal (Microtus pennsylvanicus).

Red-tailed Hawks like to perch on the irrigation wheel lines. They offer good views of substantial areas. The hawk can swoop down for a quick kill — much more relaxing than soaring and diving, and the apparatus makes for fine dining. The number of hawk poops on the wheel attests to the frequency of its use. This particular hawk is pretty tame. It hangs around the house.

Reader Snowy Owl sends some photographic harbingers of winter, called “a.m. walk”:

Canadian reader Roger Latour, who sent his photographic plates of maple keys before, now adds some lovely leaf photos:

A plate showing the leaves of the maples that will be included in my upcoming book. No names! Though I’ll make sure to send you the plate with all the latin binomials when I’m done with the work…These are basically the maples (genus Acer) that grow in Montréal, natives and exotic species, naturally or cultivated. I’m pretty sure all of these are to be found in Chicago!


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Personal favorites- maple and RT hawks – another WEIT miracle!

  2. Jeff Rankin
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    “This photo is ripe for a caption; supply one if you’re feeling feisty!”

    Put ’em up, put ’em up! Which one of ya furst?!


    • DrBrydon
      Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink


      HA! I heard Bert Lahr in my head saying exactly that when I saw the picture!

  3. E.A. Blair
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    This photo is ripe for a caption; supply one if you’re feeling feisty!”

    “You will get my hazelnuts when you pry them from my cold, dead paws!”

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    2nd row, 2nd leaf: I would never have ID’d that as a maple leaf

  5. Merilee
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos, Snowy Owl!

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Oops! How did that get in there? (But it looks like a Japanese maple).

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Squirrel caption: “What time is it? Who turned on the lights? Where’s my blankie?”

  8. Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I think the squirrel is holding a tiny cell phone, so…
    “Damn! Why do I always do the duck face when I take a selfy?”

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Shingleback lizard reminds me of one of those double-ender sailboats. They’re great in a following sea, but from a distance it’s tough to tell which direction they’re headed.

  10. Posted November 10, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I can identify five of the maple leaves, mostly on the bottom row. Starting in the bottom left corner and going right: Norway Maple, Striped Maple, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, and directly above the Red Maple, Silver Maple. The latter four are all native to where I live (New England), while Norway Maple is a widely planted but highly invasive non-native species from Eurasia. I despise that tree!

  11. Lars
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see the shingleback – we had four living in a lab in which I used to work, and they are really very nice lizards, intelligent and easy-going.
    However, I don’t think that this particular species sheds its tail. It’s of too much use as a decoy for the head.

    • Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      You are correct – it’s not true that shinglebacks (bobtails here in WA) can autotomise their tails. Spiny-tailed skinks, a relative of bobbies, also do not shed their tail – it is short and spiky and acts as a predator defence and so caudal autotomy (common in mnay species of lizard) has been lost.

  12. Posted November 11, 2017 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Australia has some weird wildlife. I like!
    The squirrel is also cute.

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