Readers’ wildlife photos (and a video)

We have a potpourri of videos and photos today, for sometimes readers send only a few photos. And we have a duck video!

From reader Barry Lyons, a Procyon lotor and offspring:

This is from my sister Annette, who lives in Salem, Massachusetts. This is from her back yard. Weird halo effect on that baby in the back.

I think this is a first: lichens, photographed by reader Bonnie. She also has a puzzle for readers in the second paragraph:

Here are some lichen photos, a bonus gall on Artemesia tridentata as well as fungal endophytes cultured from lichen. The lichen photos were taken at Sun Lakes – Dry Falls State Park in Eastern WA, the gall from Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon. I thought the endophytes were pretty.

I’m sure you’ve got some lichen buffs among your readership and I’ve got a small puzzle I’m trying to solve. Smith Rocks and Dry Falls have very similar climates and flora, the main difference being that Smith Rocks has the Western Juniper. Both have significant populations of Big Sage. At Dry Falls, most of the sage trucks are positively covered in Xanthoria lichens, whereas at Smith Rocks only very few are. The parks receive 9 and 10 inches of precipitation annually. I know that trunk eccentricity (which is determined in part from drought stress) plays a role in lichen coverage, but don’t see that the two environments would have that much of a difference. I am probably wrong on this!

From reader Su, who tentatively identifies this as “a type of a Spiny Micranthena.” Is she right? She adds, “I know you are looking only for GOOD photos, but this is the BEST I’ve ever taken or probably ever will.”

It was taken in my back yard last year, during the summer, on a Buckthorn bush.  Gently captured him and chilled him for about 10 seconds in the refrigerator, put it in a small plastic dish, and took a photo with my Celestron Digital Microscope, using PhotoBooth on my Mac.

To me, it looked like a small gypsy woman putting a curse on me for having disturbed it unnecessarily, and demanding it be put back in it’s yard. Which I promptly did, to no ill effect.

I’m always afraid of doing harm to a small beneficial creature that was just minding it’s own business, so I rarely do this, except to identify something new in my yard.

Reader Cheyney sent a video of ducks!:

While sitting on a bench at Hamlin Lake in Ludington, Michigan, some ducks stopped by to visit us.  Initially just a single ”scout” duck, then seven more. A couple ducks got pretty close. I thought of you as grabbed my phone to take the video.


  1. Posted August 9, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The Spiny Micranthena reminds me of the devil as portrayed in Fantasia, Night on Bald Mountain

    • Posted August 9, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Watched the clip, didn’t remember it being that spooky when I saw it as a kid. But there is that resemblance.

  2. Posted August 9, 2019 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Just curious about your “first” comment. Do you mean the first person to send you pictures of a lichen? Or a series of lichen photos? Or close-ups of lichens? I’m assuming not just a picture, as I’m pretty sure I sent you one I took in Manning Park a couple of years ago.

  3. Posted August 9, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    About the puzzle, lichens are very sensitive to humidity and especially mist. Mist (and condensation) at night can be very local, even a few meters can make a difference, depending on airflow paths and minor topographical features.

  4. rickflick
    Posted August 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    The orange lichen on the sage looks familiar. We get about 11 inches of annual precipitation here in SW Idaho.

  5. Posted August 9, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    The spider is identified correctly the ‘spined Micrathena’, or Micrathena gracilis.

  6. keith
    Posted August 9, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I like lichens. Those lichen photos? I’m likin’ ’em.

  7. Posted August 9, 2019 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Western junipers are water hogs:

    Could this be affecting the lichen in the area?

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