Readers’ wildlife photos

Stephen Barnard has been sending me photos from Idaho every few days, and let’s see them all together. His captions are indented.

The first set of photos came with a “trigger warning: mink/mallards”. I was relieved that the mallards didn’t get eaten.

This American Mink (Neovison vison) was working its way down the creek, sometimes on the bank and  sometimes in the water. It was (unmistakably) stalking a pair of mallards that were hugging the bank to keep out of a strong wind. I  expected it to attack them, but I think my presence spooked it.

A couple of new species showed up today, in wet, overcast weather that ducks seem to enjoy. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). Common. Breeding male. They seem to me to be gregarious and quarrelsome, often hanging close to mallards and squabbling among themselves.

Gadwall (Mareca strepera). Less common. More solitary in pairs. This is a breeding male. The feather patterns on the wing are psychedelic.

Not a good photo, but just to show another duck species in Loving Creek. Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris). Tiny, active, secretive birds. Hard to photograph.

The silhouette of a moose (Alces alces) at sunset.

Mating Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis).

Deets (Canis lupus familiaris).



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Some nice pictures there. Especially that last one.

  2. Roger
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Bad mink! Boo hiss. (Disclaimer: It was not my intention to offend minks. If any minks were offended, I’m sorry they feel that way.)

  3. Posted April 16, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Amazing how well the mink blends in. And always happy to see Deets!

  4. Dominic
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Ooh! Lovely duck plumage!

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Very good! Deets seems shaggier than I recall from other pics – and/or heavier?

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Winter coat. Deets is a “rough coat” Border Collie. Hitch, my other one, is more of a smooth coat, but really an in-between. There’s a lot of variation in Border Collies, probably because they’ve been bred for their working ability, and not to conform to some breed standard of appearance and conformation. Deets may have picked up a couple of pounds over the winter, when he doesn’t get as much exercise.

  6. Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Marvelous pictures!

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink


  8. Posted April 16, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Your pond looks more interesting than PCC’s.
    Mink, moose, cinnamon teals, oh my!

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Those shots are actually in the creek behind my house. The ponds are another thing altogether. I’m blessed with an embarrassment of riches.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Kind of like a group name for a species.
        A murder of crows, and an embarrassment of riches, or a plethora of uneasiness. 😎

  9. rickflick
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    All fine shots Stephen. When I scrolled to the marsh wren, my first thought was – hard to photograph. Low and behold you verified that in your description.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted April 16, 2019 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      They’re very territorial. I lure them out of hiding with their call on my phone. (This practice can be abused in some contexts. These birds are abundant in prime habitat and are undisturbed by anyone else.)

      Marsh wrens have an odd behavior. The male builds multiple dummy nests for obscure reasons. Also, they’ll destroy the eggs of other birds that nest in their territory.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 16, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        Fascinating. On birding outings we are often stymied by such shy birds. Dummy nest? Maybe they are made to discourage predators, giving the impression they are all empty. “Nothing to see here. Move along”.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted April 16, 2019 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          Many shy birds can be persuaded to reveal themselves with a recording. The problems arise when there’s a crowd of birders in a popular spot, perhaps trying to get a photo or an ID of a rare bird. That can be pretty disruptive, with adverse effects for the birds. Or so I’ve heard.

          I think the leading theory for the fake nests is that they’re to attract the females.

          • rickflick
            Posted April 16, 2019 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I’ve been told to minimize the use of recordings. Another method is pishing. Pishing is making a sound with the mouth like “pish, pish, pish”, which can get birds to come up from the bushes to check out the sound. Here a birder uses both imitation and pishing and manages to bring fourth numerous species.

  10. ploubere
    Posted April 16, 2019 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    As usual, excellent and high quality photo work, Stephen. Great shot of Deets.

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