Readers’ wildlife photos

Today have a potpourri of photos from four readers.

The first set comes from reader Jim Trice in Australia. Note that the first insect mimics two different models at different stages of its life cycle: ants when young and leaves when older.  The readers’ notes are indented.

I thought I’d send some recent shots for your tank.

The first 2 shots are of the first instar of the gum leaf katydid, Torbia viridissima, from the TETTIGONIIDAE family. At this stage of their life these are ant mimics, and are fairly convincing from a distance.  In close up though those long antennae and back legs give the game away.  As they develop they appear less ant like. The adults rely on camouflage, their wing covers being green, and bearing markings similar to veins on a leaf. I’ve heard reports that these are omnivorous. They eat leaves, but the adults will also eat other insects. Both of these shots were taken in my back yard.

The first of these was taken in strong natural light, the light passing through the insect’s body makes it appear redder than normal. This one has a body length of around 6mm.

The second shot, of a different specimen, was taken with some front on fill-flash. This shows the colour of the insect in more typical lighting. By way of providing a sense of scale each of those spent lavender florets it is sitting on are around 8mm in length.

JAC: Here’s an adult katydid taken from Brisbane Insects; it’s a leaf mimic. Imagine the developmental modifications required to change the morphology of a single individual!

Brisbane Insects has a page with shots of gum leaf katydids at all stages of development, from egg to adult.

The other shots are of a small Australian native bee feeding on Scabious sp. It is Homalictus urbanus, one of the halictid bees, sometimes known as sweat bees. This specimen is about 5mm in length, which is pretty typical for this species.  This is one of the most common, and most widespread, of the Australian native bees.  The females live communally, typically around 80 to 100 females sharing a burrow. But each bee cares for her own young. They like disturbed ground and farmland, and are currently thriving. I found this one while walking my youngest home from school. I was pleasantly surprised it was still there when I rushed back with my camera.

The next shot shows the bee diving in to a floret to feed. I like the way it grips the style with its mid-legs while doing this.

The shot shows the bee cleaning its face. It did this after emerging from every floret.

From reader Charlie Schliesser:

My wife and I trekked to the top of Mt Batur in Bali, Indonesia in late November, the morning that Mt Agung had a large eruption. We climbed up to see the sunrise and were treated not only to the incredible view, but also to a dozen or so macaques that live nearby and follow tourists around at the peak trying to steal a bite to eat (or a camera to trade back). My wife Sara snapped this awesome photo and I want to share it.

From reader Stephen Barnard, a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis):

Finally, a lovely mini-landscape shot by Ken Phelps:

Ice over a shallow pond littered with leaves.



  1. Dee
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Amazing photos. The macaque photo is a once-in-a-lifetime shot.

    Thanks. Great way to start the day.

  2. Posted December 13, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Lovely pictures! I like potpourri days.

  3. Debbie Coplan
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    What a great post! Love that sweat bee holding onto the flower. Pretty incredible to get that close in….
    All the photos are really exciting.

  4. Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Excellent photos. Ken: I love the ice photo! 🙂

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Thanks, the geometry of the ridges really fascinates me, especially the lower center of the shot. This is in a little backwater off the side of a creek, mostly behind a gravel bar, but open at one end to the motion from the creek. My assumption is that the movement of the water is responsible for the ridges, but not sure.

      • Posted December 13, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        To me it shows a couple of things: You are a good observer* and you can compose a good photo (which isn’t easy).

        * People ask me how I do my photos and I usually reply: Learn how to handle your equipment and then get out there and pay attention. Look around you, see what is interesting to you eye, and then eliminate everything from the photo frame that doesn’t enhance what you see there. Looking at lots of photos and other visual artwork helps a lot too.

        • Ken Phelps
          Posted December 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          I’ve always suspected that most people see the same stuff, those little things that just briefly register as interesting, or patterned, or aesthetically balanced as your eye passes over them. The tricky part is learning what a camera can record, and, as you say, getting rid of everything else.

          A trick I used when I was first learning to crop was to imagine I was hanging the image by a thread in the middle. The image should *generally* look like it is just going to hang there, and not tip to one side from unbalanced visual “weight”. The weight can be color, light/dark areas, detail, geometry, etc., etc.

  5. Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I also like the ice photo. Very arty. And the monkey in front of the volcano picture is also awesome.

  6. Cate Plys
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I suspect many other readers, like me, love this daily portion of WEIT without commenting. Just in case Prof CCE takes note of the number of comments, be assured we’re out there. Today’s round-up was a fantastic way to start the day.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      I am one of those who “love this daily portion of WEIT” but rarely comment, and also agree that it’s a great way to start the day — every day. If that photo of the ice crystals over the leaves in the pond should be in the Met. What beautiful abstract art.

  7. tjeales
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Great to see the Homalictus I love those little bees.

  8. ratabago
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    The shot of the monkey has real emotional impact.

    The ice and leaves abstract is interesting. I’m finding it is very soothing contemplating it over a couple of minutes at a time.

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