Readers’ wildlife photos

Stephen Barnard is back with some lovely photos from Idaho—including mallards! His notes are indented:

First, a couple of photos of some elk (Cervus canadensis) I found in my backyard after I came home from a weekend trip. This group is part of a larger herd of at least 100. It appears to be dominated by one bull. I find the expressions on the faces in the second photo amusing.

The next day, a couple of photos of two bull elk, part of the large herd, sparring and trashing one of my wheel lines. I had to chase them off.


A ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), one of two cocks romancing a hen. These are probably stocked birds (for hunting) that wandered onto my place. They don’t survive the winters in good numbers.

A rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the net.


Migrating mallards [Anas platyrhynchos] by the thousands, finding refuge in Loving Creek. They’re hunted intensively, so they’re very spooky and they flush when I get out and about in the morning. They fly onto neighboring properties where Elmer-Fudd-like hunters are lying in wait in their blinds. Sunday mornings are especially loud. Shouldn’t these people be in church? 🙂

In the morning (not every morning, but a few) I’ll see thousands of mallards in the sky over the barley fields, looking for a safe place to land. Quite a sight. They come in waves from Canada and Alaska. Mallards are doing well.

My dogs, Deets and Hitch, used to be gun shy, but they’re gotten used to it. Here’s a lagniappe photo of Hitch on the run.

And a lovely landscape:



  1. Mark Jones
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Great shots!

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Is the “onco-“ part of the trout name “oncorhyncus” the same as the word “oncogene “? What does it mean?

    Typical gorgeous photos!

    • pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      I think so. An abnormal growth. And ryhncus, or rhynchos, should indicate a snout or similar. Oncorhynchus should be something with a large snout. I think some Oncorhynchus species are like that. And platyrhynchos should have a flat snout or beak, like a mallard.

      • Mikeyc
        Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        I believe this is Onchorhynchus clarkii – a cut throat trout. Onchhorhyncus means “hook nose” and its called “clarkii” after William Clark since it was first described from NW rivers.

        • Mikeyc
          Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          Oops. Some extra “h”s in there. Stoopid fat fingers.

  3. pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous photos indeed!

  4. Terry Sheldon
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Lovely stuff as always. I’m always amazed at the elk herds you get! I think the entire herd in all of PA numbers about 100 (well maybe a few more than that)!

    • Terry Sheldon
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I stand corrected. According to the PA Game Commission there are 1000 elk in PA. What sort of games they play, I’m not sure…

  5. Liz
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Love all of these.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Stephen. Great pics.

    Wheel lines: I can’t quite figure these things out having not seen one in action. This is a MOVER [in the link] & it drives the line up the field in a straight sweep or in circular sweep? I would have thought circular to keep water supply at one point.

    Is there different speed ‘movers’ along the line if it’s a circle or just one at the outer end?

    Does the line narrow further from source to maintain sprinkler pressure?

    What speed do these things move at & how often to refuel the mover [I assume it’s gasoline]?

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Wheel lines move straight across the fields and are moved every day manually, powered by gasoline engines. (In the photos you can see that the elk have broken the yellow cowling of the engine.) The water comes from irrigation risers spaced along the edge of the fields. Some farmers use circular systems, called pivots, but my place isn’t suitable for them. Another irrigation system used for irregular fields is hand lines, which are aluminum pipes moved by hand. Hand lines are very labor intensive and increase the cost of production. This year I’ve replaced all the hand lines with wheel lines, which will consume all my profit and more.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 30, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Yhank you

  7. Claudia Baker
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I’m glad to see that some of the mallards from up here made it safely to Idaho on their migration journey. We too, hear gunshots most Saturday and Sunday mornings, at this time of year, on the lake where I live. It always upsets me. But, even if they get away safely from my neck of the woods, they have to face the same dangers on the way. Poor ducks!

    I note that the loons are still on the lake. They were particularly noisy last night, with their falsetto wails. Soon they will leave, mysteriously, just before the freeze-up comes. How do they know?

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Wish I had loons here. I used to take yearly canoe trips into the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. The loons calling in the evening still haunt my memory.

  8. Posted October 30, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Shouldn’t these people be in church? 🙂

    They’ll be heading over there later, after shooting their fill of God’s critters.

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m trying to be fair now, as a sportsman (fly fisherman and ex hunter). No organization has done more for the protection of migratory game birds like mallards than Ducks Unlimited. Yes, they have ulterior motives, but my experience with dedicated, ethical waterfowl hunters is that when they’re in the blind, they’re in church.

  9. Posted October 30, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Very beautiful pictures. Thanks! That one of Hitch is wonderful.

  10. rickflick
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Great shots Stephen. I guess my favorite would be the Elk on the run. A reminder of our recent trip to Yellowstone.

    I also very much like “Elmer-Fudd-like hunters”. I may use that.

  11. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Great stuff! I was going to ask about the wheel lines but I see that is addressed above.

  12. David Duncan
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Lovely photos Stephen.

    Go Deets! Go Hitch.

  13. tjeales
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Lovely autumnal palate across these shots. Beautiful set, thanks for sharing.

  14. Susan Davies
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    The duck hunters probably go to church later in the day, but have to murder a few of His creatures first. How they can live with that is beyond me.

  15. Posted October 30, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the comments. I encourage all to get out there, with whatever cameras you have — even iPhones — and to photograph nature, because Jerry has an insatiable appetite for this content. 🙂

  16. Diane G
    Posted October 31, 2018 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Beautiful as always, Stephen!

    IIRC, Deets is getting up in years. How’s he doing? How similar are Deets & Hitch, personality-wise?

    • Posted October 31, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      Deets is nine years old and doing great, He and Hitch have very different personalities. Deets is rather stand-offish and dignified, while Hitch is goofy and affectionate. Some say that herding breeds have more diverse personalities than other breeds. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s consistent with my experience.

  17. Posted October 31, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Always the landscape…

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