Readers’ wildlife photos (and video)

Besides a meteor video (our first), we have a collection of photos taken by reader Joe Dickinson. His notes are indented:

Here are shots from a December trip primarily to see wintering waterfowl in the Merced and San Louis National Wildlife Refuges over in the California Central Valley, with some nice non-waterfowl bonuses.

The most striking concentrations were Ross’s goose (Chen rossii) and snow goose (Chen caerulescens), often in mixed flocks and difficult to distinguish at a distance.

Although more dispersed, ducks were also present in the thousands, mostly northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), cinnamon teal (Anas cyanoptera) and northern pintail (Anas acuta) pictured in that order below.

The most common wader was the black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus).

Large flocks of geese flew out from the wetlands early in the morning, only to be found foraging in nearby fields.  All those I got close to seem to be Ross’s.

It wasn’t all waterfowl and waders.  Here is a nice red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).

A rather laid back coyote (Canis latrans).

And a Black-tailed deer (a subspecies of mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus).

Finally, we did not see sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) on the ground this time but did catch them flying from farm fields back into the refuge in the evening.

Diana MacPherson filmed a video she calls “meteor over Michigan”. Her notes, sent a week ago yesterday:

A few days ago, there was a meteor over Michigan. See story here. My backyard cameras caught it on video from Southern Ontario.


  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Someone from NASA saw the video on YouTube (she left a commment) and tracked me down on Facebook. She is going to use the video to analyze the trajectory of the meteor so needed some more video uploaded to some servers for analysis. Luckily, in the better quality videos (which are huge), you can see Orion’s Belt and three bright stars so I’m sure she will be able to calculate the trajectory from that. She said a lot of the videos they had were closer to the ground so this one will be more helpful for them.

    • Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      That’s fantastic, Diana. Great capture. Did you hear any ‘boom’ at the time of the meteor crashing?

      Thanks for the beautiful photos, yet again, Joe.

    • Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      I see that the meteor was caught on Doppler weather radar, and the time between the flash and the boom also allowed the height to be calculated. It turned out to be very low altitude, making it worthwhile to search for fragments. Two meteor hunters in Michigan quickly put all this info together and found at least two large fragments of it on frozen lakes north of Ann Arbor!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      How cool! And it was already really, really cool that you caught the meteor on your camera – a really nice bit of luck.

      I hear there’s a bigger one headed our way soon too.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        2002 AJ129 will not become a meteor I hope! 🙂

    • Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      I was sitting inside and heard nothing and saw nothing. But I know several people in my area who did experience something of it.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Really excellent, Diana! I’m jealous.

    • Posted January 29, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Nice to have a story of an *I*FO for once. 🙂

  2. Colleen Milloy
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful refuge photos. I really enjoyed them.

  3. Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Beautiful Red Tail Hawk. There were a lot of them around where I used to live; as well as Cooper’s Hawks. I loved watching them when I could get away from city surroundings.

  4. Debbie Coplan
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    All photos and video are incredible.
    I love that very healthy looking coyote.
    Thank you!

  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos Joe. Thanks.

  6. Christopher
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Well those were fun! I’ve been seeing hundreds of geese (probably snow goose) heading south along I-49 in western Missouri those week, probably headed for Four Rivers conservation area, but I think I’ve got another week before the duck hunters leave before it’ll be safe for me and my feathered friends. I’ve also been seeing the migrating mixed flocks of starlings, blackbirds, and grackles. They often fill the sky in massive hands that stretch from the northwestern horizon to the southeastern, seeming to go on for ever. It’s quite spectacular.

  7. Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    A great diversity of birds! Very good, and thank you.

  8. Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    “Meteor over Chicago” A good band name, I think.

  9. rickflick
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    A great selection of images today. I think I like the stilt the best. Perhaps because they arrived in formal attire.

  10. Mark Fisher
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    “San Luis” I believe, rather than “San Louis”.

  11. Mark R.
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to see so many healthy populations of birds…plenty of birds for the likes of a wily coyote. 🙂

    Very cool meteor shot and the NASA outreach. You’ll have to let us know if they tell you the trajectory, etc. Was that a security camera?

  12. Posted January 28, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Nice pics.

  13. Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Great photos and video!

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