Caturday felid trifecta: Insouciant cat, Maru and Hana, rock-climbing cats

This cat meme, which purrfectly expresses the solipsism of the felid, comes from The Purrfect Feline Page:


I don’t know why I’ve stopped looking at Maru and Hana videos, but that was a mistake. Not only are they cute, but the title are adorable as well. I present to you the latest video, “The canned box is jam-packed with Maru & Hana”.  I think poor Hana has the worst real estate here, as she’s being dorsoventrally compressed by the tubby Maru:


Climbing Magazine presents an article on “9 Crag Cats“: cats who do rock-climbing. Actually, it looks as if most of them stay at the base while their staff does the climbing, but a few do venture up the rocks:


Climber cat Millie seconds the West Slabs (5.5) up Mt. Olympus in Utah. @Pechanga


Rigby has climbed in three states at just seven months old. He got his first taste of lowering/rappelling here at Kootenai Canyon in Montana. @mchellefelix


Halo loves being outdoors, especially with his cat mama, Rachel Mitchell. As the feline crusher of Cooper’s Rock, this leash-trained cat knows how to spend a fall afternoon in West Virginia. @sugaraeray

Most of the cats, however, just go along to enjoy the outdoors, like this one:



And, as lagniappe, a tw**t with a video:

h/t: Moto, John S., Matthew Cobb

Spot the klipspringer!

Just in case you don’t know what a klipspringer is, it’s a small African antelope (Oreotragus oreotragus) that looks like this when it’s visible:


Cute, no? Well, reader Michelle de Villiers sent in a photo that has not one, but two klipspringers hidden in it. It was taken in Kruger National Park. Can you spot them? Answer in a few hours. (Click photo to enlarge.)

As usual, if you spot it you can laud yourself in the comments, but please don’t reveal where the animals are!



Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, July 23, and the “heat dome” over Chicago, which is broiling much of the U.S., is predicted to abate. It’s National Hot Dog Day in the U.S., so go out and have a Chicago-style dog: the best of all possible dogs. It is an all-beef dog in a natural casing and resting happily on a Rosen’s poppy-seed bun, dressed with mustard, onions, relish, hot peppers, tomatoes, celery salt, and a pickle spear. Ordering ketchup on a dog is a felony in Chicago—as it should be everywhere.

On this day in history, in 1903, the Ford Motor Company sold its first car. Exactly 39 years later, the Treblinka concentration camp was opened in Poland.

Notables born on this day include Raymond Chandler (1888), Justice Anthony Kennedy (1936), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967, died 2014). Those who died on this day include Ulysses S. Grant (1885), D. W. Griffith (1948), Eudora Welty (2001), Amy Winehouse (2011 ♥), and Sally Ride (2012). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili attacked from her hiding behind a wicker chair:

Hili: How did you know I was here?
A: Somebody sank her claws into my back.
In Polish:
Hili: Skąd wiedziałeś, że ja tu jestem?
Ja: Bo ktoś mi wbijał pazury w plecy.

We have special lagniappe today. The heat continues to sap all of us in the central U.S. This photo was sent by reader Blue in Iowa:

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.00.35 AM

And in southern Poland, Leon is taking intermittent hikes as he and his staff search for a house.

Leon: Another 500 meters up the hill and then I will walk by myself.


I sent my godcat Gus a present for his third birthday. It’s a Canadian license plate shaped like a polar bear, but it also looks like Gus. For a while several decades ago, both the Northwest Territories and Manitoba had polar bear-shaped license plates (God love the Canadians!), and I bought one on eBay for Gus. See the resemblance?


Finally, this picture was taken exactly two years ago yesterday. I like it (as does Hili), so I’m putting it up again.


The wolf genes are calling

In an expansive mood, I’ll actually put up a d*g video today. This one, sent by reader Anne-Marie (who owns a German shepherd), shows the wolf genes in a d*g suddenly activated by an environmental stimulus:

Australian school bans clapping to protect the noise sensitive, but allows face-pulling, air punching, and silent wriggling

I usually end the work week with a cat post, or some cute animal, but this article is pretty funny.

An piece in reports that a primary school in Sydney, Australia, in deference to those students who might be sensitive to noise, has issued an edict that there will be NO clapping or cheering at public assemblies.

In its July 18 newsletter, the Elanora school has published an item under the headline “Did you know” that “our school has adopted silent cheers at assembly’s” (sic).

“If you’ve been to a school assembly recently, you may have noticed our students doing silent cheers,” the item reads.

“Instead of clapping, the students are free to punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot.

“The practice has been adopted to respect members of our school community who are sensitive to noise.

“When you attend an assembly, teachers will prompt the audience to conduct a silent cheer if it is needed.

“Teachers have also found the silent cheers to be a great way to expend children’s energy and reduce fidgeting.”

The bit in bold above (my emphasis) makes me laugh out loud—and snort in derision.

As the old Ginsu Knife commercial went, “But wait! There’s more!”:

The ban follows a direction at exclusive Cheltenham Girls High School in northwest Sydney for teachers to avoid discrimination and support LGBTI students by avoiding the words “girls”, “ladies” or “women”.

Teachers were told that if they didn’t support this decision, they’d be considered not only homophobic, but breaking the law.

But wait! There’s still more!! No hugging or handshakes! That’s bad: use knuckle handshakes instead!

Elanora Heights Public School’s ban on clapping in favour of silent cheering comes after several schools have banned hugging.

In April, hugging was banned at a Geelong primary school and children were told to find other ways to show affection.

St Patricks Primary School principal John Grant said “nothing in particular” had caused hugging to be replaced by high fiving or “a knuckle handshake”.

“But in this current day and age we are really conscious about protecting kids and teaching them from a young age that you have to be cautious,” Mr Grant said.

He said he had spoken to teachers about his decision to ban hugging and then the teachers had spoken to classes, instructing the children on different methods of showing affection. He had not sent any correspondence home to parents but said there would now be a letter going home on Monday.

“There’s a range of methods including a high five or a particular knuckle handshake where they clunk knuckles as a simple way of saying ‘well done’,” Mr Grant said. “There are also verbal affirmations and acknowledgments.”

Children at the school have been enthusiastic huggers, he said, with hugs given out to teachers and other children.

“We have a lot of kids who walk up and hug each other and we’re trying to encourage all of us to respect personal space,” Mr Grant said. “It really comes back to not everyone is comfortable in being hugged.”


What are we teaching our students when they prohibit them from a spontaneous hug? Does the downside of that (students who don’t want to be hugged) outweigh the upside (bonding between kids)? Are we breeding a generation of adults that can’t show that kind of affection—that will give a knuckle handshake to another person who’s had great news? I myself am somewhat shy about hugging, but when I overcome that tendency and hug a new friend, or someone I’ve known on the Internet for a long time, it always has a good result: bonding or more closeness.

I’m literally shaking and crying right now over Australia’s entrance into the pantheon of the Regressive Left. I can’t even. . .


Obligatory instruction/indoctrination for all new students.

h/t: Greg Mayer

Honeyguides and humans: a wonderful mutualism between our species and a wild bird

The story of our relationship with the Greater Honeyguide, which has the fantastic species name of Indicator indicator, is well known. The BBC had a segment on it, which is where I learned the story. And the story is this: people in Mozambique and Tanzania use honey as an important part of their diet, but the beehives, hidden in trees, are hard to find. Enter the Honeyguide, a bird that has the ability to find the nests. This has led, over God knows how many years, to a mutualism between bird and humans. The birds let humans know they’re around by chirping. The honey-hunting humans then make a special bird-summoning sound (in the case of the Yao people, the “brrr-hmm” call you can hear in the video below, but the Hadza people of Tanzania use a different “whistle” call), and that attracts the birds, which then lead the humans to a bees’ nest. As the birds fly ahead, the humans keep making that call, which keeps them aligned with the birds. Finally, the bird stops in the nest area, and, more often than not, the humans find the nest, extracting the honey and most of the honeycomb. The humans leave behind wax (and perhaps some honey) for the birds, which consume it.

So we have here a true mutualism, a wonderful alliance of bird and human that benefits each one. My question, when I first heard the tale, was also asked by a group of biologists: Is is this story true? That is, you can see humans following birds to the bees’ nests, and you can see the humans making calls, but do the human calls—the specific whistle or “brrrr-hmm” they make—really serve to attract the birds and keep them guiding? And are the birds accurate in leading humans to the nests? Finally, are the Honeyguides really leading humans, or are the humans just following a bird, parasitizing its own ability to find a nest?

The classical story does seem accurate, as without humans the birds have no way of getting either wax or honey. They can’t attack bees’ nests on their own. Further, the birds do seem to come to human calls, and no other species has been recorded following the birds. But the scientists wanted to know more; and this has produced a new paper in Science by Claire Spottiswoode, Keith Begg, and Colleen Begg (free link and reference at bottom). It turns out that the story is indeed true.

The video below, produced to accompany the paper, really gives all the salient details, but I’ll add a few more after you watch it:

The authors had two questions:

1). Does the guiding behavior give reliable information to humans about where the bees are?  The answer is yes: 75.3% of guiding events led to successful location of a bees’ nest (the bee, by the way, is almost always Apis mellifera, the common honey bee).  The average distance of a following event was 152 meters from when the bird showed up, and about 75% of nests found by humans involved following a bird.

The authors also used a GPS to track the direction of a bird’s initial travel to see how accurately it showed where the nest was. On the right part of the figure below, you can see that the birds are damn good; on average, their initial direction of flight was only 1.7° away from the true direction of the nest. Those birds know where the nests are!


Fig. 1 Greater honeyguides accurately lead humans to bees’ nests. (A) A Yao honey-hunter and a wild, free-living honeyguide. (This bird was captured using a researcher’s mist-net and is neither tame nor habitually captive.) (B) Accuracy of honeyguide initial guiding behavior in relation to direction of successfully located bees’ nests. Points represent the difference in bearing between initial guiding trajectory over the first 40 m of travel and the ultimate direction of the bees’ nest (here set at 0) and are binned into 5° intervals. Each point represents a journey (n = 58 journeys) to a separate bees’ nest that was at least 80 m away from the point where guiding began. Sometimes a honeyguide led humans to more than one nest consecutively (n = 50 guiding events). The circular distribution is unimodal (Rayleigh test, P < 0.001) with a mean of 1.7° (95% confidence interval includes zero: 352.3° to 11.1°), showing that honeyguide behavior offers reliable directional information to humans.

2). Does the specific human call really incite the birds to guide the people to bees’ nests?  Again the answer is “yes.” The researchers did an experiment in which they recorded three types of calls by the Yao. These included the normal “brrrr-hmmm” call, a control “human sound” call which was the Yao word for “honeyguide,” “honey,” or the caller’s name (alternated), and an excitement call of a ring-necked dove, serving as an animal-call control. These recordings were then played back on 72 forays into the field. The results were clear, and are shown in the figure below.

On the left side (A), you see the probability of being guided by a honeyguide when different calls were played. The “brrrr-hmmm” call, the one used in everyday life, elicited a guiding attempt 66.7% of the time, as opposed to only 25% or 33.3% of the time when human-sound or dove-sound calls were used, respectively. (The difference between the results of traditional versus other two calls was significant, as shown by the p = 0.003 notation.) When the traditional call was interrupted by playing the other two calls, the authors report that the honeybirds “ceased guiding.” They’re clearly listening to the brrr-hmmm to keep them heading toward the nest.

On the right side (B), you see the same comparison for whether the birds successfully led humans to a nest after they had been following it (the time for finding was limited to 15 minutes after arrival at the general area). And again, the recorded brrr-hmmm call led to finding a nest 54.2% of the time, as opposed to only 16.7% for each of the other two recorded calls, another highly significant difference. Clearly, the traditional call is better at inciting birds to guide.


Fig. 2 Probability of a successful mutualistic interaction, in relation to experimentally given acoustic cues. Values are predicted probabilities of (A) being guided by a honeyguide and (B) being shown a bees’ nest on a 15-min search, derived from a logistic model of data from experimental transects and accounting for time of day (minutes from sunrise to sunset). Boxes show medians and quartiles; whiskers show ranges (n = 24 trials per treatment group; P values show planned comparisons; n.s., not significant).

One potential problem: maybe the birds simply are more likely to hear the traditional call than the other two calls, but don’t recognize the traditional call as a specific call saying “please guide me.” To test this, the authors showed that the amplitude of the call—its “hearability” had no effect on either the probability of being guided or being “shown” a bees’ nest.

The mutualism between a wild animal and humans is almost unique, for the authors note only one comparable situation:

These results show that a wild animal correctly attaches meaning and responds appropriately to a human signal of recruitment toward cooperative foraging, a behavior previously associated with only domestic animals, such as dogs. Although humans use many species as foraging partners, including falcons, dogs, and cormorants, these involve trained or domesticated individuals that are specifically taught to cooperate. The honeyguide-human relationship is notable in that it involves free-living wild animals whose interactions with humans have probably evolved through natural selection. To our knowledge, the only comparable relationship involves cooperation between artisanal fishermen and free-living dolphins. Several reports exist of men “calling” dolphins to hunt, starting with Pliny the Elder around 70 CE . Whether this reflects a similarly specialized communication system to that mediating the honeyguide-human mutualism in Mozambique remains unknown.

The question that interests me now is this: How did it evolve, and is the behavior on the part of the birds genetically-hard wired, learned (from either other birds or their own experience), or a combination of both? It’s relevant here that Greater Honeyguides are nest parasites: parents lay their eggs in the nests of other species, who raise them, and so parents never interact with their young. (This is what the cuckoo does.) That means that if learning is involved, the birds can’t be learning the human call from their parents.  The authors float the idea that the recognition is innate, but then point out that in Tanzania the honeyguides respond to a different call. That’s unlikely to be a different genetic adaptation, they say, because there’s no evidence of genetic structure for other loci across the range.  They conclude that recognition of the call is learned, perhaps from other adults in the area. This would imply that they watch other birds and, seeing the reward for the behavior, copy them. This copying could include the initial call that the birds make, alerting humans to their presence.

There is, however, another possibility: the birds are hard-wired for the ability to learn a human call, but the specific call they learn is provided by the local people. This may be the case, for instance, in human language. Some think that we’re “hard wired” to acquire language (we start babbling syllables as infants, and are more attuned to speech sounds than to non-speech sounds), but the specific language we learn is determined by our local culture.  The way to determine this, in the case of the honeyguides, is to somehow hand-rear the babies and then see if, when released, they spontaneously recognize the “brrr-hmmm” or “whistle” call, or can be trained to lead when hearing either call before they’ve seen other birds. (It’s still possible that there’s genetically distinct recognition in different areas, but that other genes don’t show the same kind of geographic differentiation).

Even if the behavior is learned, that leaves one more question: How did this system get started? Your guess is as good as mine, and the authors don’t talk about this.  Given that birds can’t acquire honey or wax on their own, it probably started when birds saw humans find a bees’ nest, and those humans left behind some edible remnants of the nest. The birds would then start following the hunters around, and could even go to the bees’ nest anticipating where the hunters were going. The hunters could then use the birds’ behavior as a way of locating the nest (birds are better at finding nests than are humans), and could start calling to the birds. That would alert the birds to the presence of humans, and thus to a treat.  That scenario implies that even if recognizing a specific human call isn’t hard-wired, perhaps the leading behavior could have evolved, for there is obvious reproductive benefit (by way of more food) to leading humans. The video above suggests that this relationship could have existed for thousands of years or more, which is ample time for some evolution to have occurred in the bird.

But however this evolved, I find it ineffably touching. Look at the picture of the Yao man and the bird above. They help each other out, and, of course, the Yao always leave some food behind for the bird. That’s not just kindness: it’s a necessity if this behavior is to remain stable. Still, it’s hard not to think that the Yao bear some sort of affection for the birds, and maybe there’s just a wee bit of bonding on the bird’s part. Ain’t nature wonderful?

But just to show this isn’t all beer and skittles, nest parasites like the Greater Honeyguide, when raised by a ‘foster species,’ will kill all the chicks of their stepparents so they get all the attention (cuckoos and other nest parasites do that, too). Here, from the Weird Birds site, is a Greater Honeyguide killing off its unrelated nestmates: Greater Honeyguide

Now, about those fishing dolphins. . .

h/t: Kevin


Spottiswoode, C. N., K. S. Begg, and C. M. Begg. 2016. Reciprocal signaling in honeyguide-human mutualism. Science 353:387-389.

Shooting spree at Munich mall

CNN News gives some sketchy information about a shooting spree in a mall in Munich, Germany.  It occurred at 6 p.m. Munich time, or about an hour ago. It’s also reported to be over.  There’s no other information right now.

More about Milo and his Twitter ban: he was worse than I thought

I don’t want this to become a “drama site,” so I won’t post more than this on the Ghostbusters/Leslie Jones/Milo kerfuffle. Besides, I want to write about honeyguides. But I want to note that, in view of new information, I’ve changed my mind about the injustice of giving Milo Yiannopoulos a life sentence in Twitter Jail.

I still decry the double standards that Twitter (and Facebook) apparently have when it comes to banning people, but more on that in a second. Yesterday I discussed the opprobrium, racism, and sexism heaped on actor Leslie Jones by many people on Twitter, including Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo was subsequently banned for life by Twitter. My opinion was that while his tweets were reprehensible—and surely violated the poorly enforced standards of Twitter (they really need to give more concrete explanations for banning)—he should not have been banned.

I agree, of course, that Twitter has the right to set its own standards. That was not the issue. The issue was what sort of standards should they have, given that they have in effect a monopoly on global Internet conversation. I suggested that Twitter should abide by the U.S.’s free-speech standards, whereby only speech that poses a threat of immediate violence (or legally constitutes slander or libel) should be banned. If it’s a problem that other countries have “hate speech” laws, like Germany and Canada, then headquarter Twitter in the U.S. After all, I’m not subject to other countries’ speech laws on this website, as I write form America.

Many readers agreed with me; others didn’t. Nearly all agreed, though, that Milo is not just a provocateur, but a troll, and that his politics are reprehensible. But of course free speech is in the Constitution precisely to prevent the censorship of those whose speech is deemed reprehensible.

Now, however, information has come to my attention suggesting that Yiannopoulos committed a more serious misstep. (Others suggested this in the comments yesterday, but I had to verify it.) In a piece at, “The trouble with Milo,” Cathy Young, once an ally of Milo in conservative activism, says he’s “crossed the line” by tweeting bogus tweets that came from Jones, and did so knowingly. First, here are the two counterfeit tweets from Jones passed along by Yiannopoulos, and then retweeted by others 600 times (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.25.28 AM

That these were bogus tweets from Jones should have been obvious by the absence of the “verification” checkmark issued by Twitter. Indeed, they are so far out of character for Jones—especially the “goddam kikes” tweet—that they’re clearly fake. And, indeed, Yiannopoulos wryly suggested he knew that:

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.29.10 AM

And Breibart tried to make light of this; as Young writes:

Breitbart has attempted to excuse this by claiming there was no attempt to pass the screenshots off as real tweets from Jones, since their fakeness was “made clear with the lack of a verification check mark.” Yet some people who responded to Milo thought the tweets were real. So did someone who tweeted at me after Milo’s ban.

Sorry, but game over. By knowingly disseminating fake tweets, and tweets that were made to look horrible, Yiannopolous was guilty of impersonating another user. So yes, he should have been banned for that.

Should the ban be permanent? I say “no.” Give him another chance, and if he continues to do stuff like this, ban him for good. Free speech is one thing, this form of slander is another.

But, as Young emphasizes, the bigger problem remains: what kind of speech should  be banned on Twitter? And my opinion, given above and yesterday, remains. Like me, Young has valid concerns that Twitter bans only those holding certain political views:

Even if Milo fully deserved to get banned, there is little doubt that Twitter’s management has double standards favoring “marginalized people” and the Social Justice left.

For instance: while I hold Breitbart in pretty low regard, this account of a black Breitbart reporter being repeatedly attacked as a “coon” on Twitter at the instigation of rapper Talib Kweli (who has over a million Twitter followers, more than three times Milo’s follower count at the time of his ban) certainly seems to meet Twitter’s criteria for “targeted abuse.” Will Twitter take action? I’m not holding my breath. Likewise, Breitbart seems to have a pretty good case with regard to Twitter ignoring calls for deadly violence against cops from Black Twitter, even though Twitter rules clearly prohibit promoting violence.

Or take another example. A number of people have said that Twitter’s intervention to help Leslie Jones makes good practical sense, since many Twitter users are interested in interacting with celebrities and having celebrities driven off Twitter by hate is bad for business. Fine. But where was the concern when filmmaker Joss Whedon quit Twitter after a deluge of hate over alleged misogyny in Avengers: Age of Ultron, or when British comedian Stephen Fry deleted his account after being bashed for jokes some saw as offensive to women and transgender people? (Trans activists on Twitter are notorious for ripping people to shreds for the pettiest transgressions; a few months before his departure from Twitter, Whedon was savaged for a “transphobic” joke which suggested that requirements for a female character include not having male genitalia.)

Nor one did anyone lament the “silencing” when technology entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa announced his decision to step away from advocacy for women in tech because of social media attacks from feminists who accused him of using women for self-promotion. In fact, one of the people who led the charge against Wadhwa, programmer and women-in-tech advocate Randi Harper, is an “anti-harassment advocate” who has the ear of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Harper, who has a habit of telling people to “set themselves on fire” if they cross her, has been accused of being a social media bully herself; two mainstream liberal journalists have told me that they agree with this characterization but would not go on the record to criticize Harper.

Harper’s cozy relationship with Twitter management points to another problem. Twitter’s (and, generally, the social media’s) anti-harassment initiatives have a close relationship with “social justice” activists who act as partners and consultants on these efforts. The problem is not just that this compromises the appearance of neutrality. It’s that, as I pointed out in the New York Observer earlier this year, these activists are anti-neutrality in principle: they not only tend to equate “safety” with protection from “oppressive” speech but openly support double standards that favor the “marginalized” over the “privileged.”

I won’t belabor you with lots of examples; you can read Young’s piece yourself. But here’s one final example I found of people spewing hate on Twitter who aren’t banned at all. Those are the people celebrating the honor killing of Pakistani actor/singer/activist Qandeel Baloch. Have a look at what some people said, as sussed out and passed along by Rita Panahi, an Iranian-Australian columnist:

There’s more. Let me enlarge them for you:

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 1.48.05 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 1.48.16 PM

In case you think I’m asking for these shameful creatures to be banned, I’m not. Their sentiments are beyond civilized discourse, but they should still be able to say what they want. That way, at least, we can see them for the jerks they are.

No, Laura Ingraham did not give a Nazi salute at the GOP convention

Jebus, is the Left becoming as fond of conspiracy theories as the right? This photo (and gifs) of conservative author and radio host Laura Ingraham, waving to the crowd after her speech at the Republican convention, are all over my Facebook page, with some posters seriously suggesting that she’s giving a Hitler salute.  (I really should stop going to FB.) When I said, “People, it’s just the beginning of a wave—she’s not giving the Nazi salute!”, I was contradicted by some who said it’s just too strange to be a real wave.

Slate, for example, posted this, without giving the video (click on screenshot for link):

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 8.00.18 AM

Here’s a video of her entrance to the stage and then her final wave. Note her stiff-armed wave as she walks onto the stage at the beginning, and then her final salutations (including the “Nazi salute”) at 2:48. She’s just an awkward waver, for crying out loud!

Come on, people! That stiff-armed bit was just the beginning of a general wave to the crowd. Do you really think that Ingraham, conservative as she is, would covertly give a sign of sympathy to Hitler? Are we so mired in hatred of Republicans that we’ll even entertain conspiracy theories like this?

Ingraham is odious enough without us making fools of ourselves by suggesting she’s a Nazi sympathizer. That makes us akin to creationists: we take one bit of a wave out of context; creationists take a few words out of context from the writings of evolutionists.

Readers’ wildlife photographs

Don’t forget to send in your good photos (most people aren’t professionals, but by now you’ll have an idea of the quality of stuff that appears here), as I can always use more. Today’s batch comprises “peeps”, which is what birders call the five smallest sandpipers of North America. The photos were contributed by reader Mike McDowell, and his captions are indented:

Surprise! Fall bird migration is underway! This may seem like comforting news for those of us enduring the present Midwest heatwave, but the humid weather is going to be with us for a while. However, shorebirds are heading out. They’re among the first southbound migratory birds to leave northern Canada for destinations in the southern United States, Central America and beyond. Some shorebird species have already made it to southern Wisconsin from areas as far north as the Arctic Circle.

Last weekend I was searching for tiger beetles on a sandbar along the Wisconsin River and came across a flock of peeps (common birder slang for the 5 smallest shorebird species). These tiny birds are a mere 5 to 6 inches long and weigh 20 to 30 ounces grams, roughly the same size and weight of a House Sparrow.  Anyway, there were around 20 Semipalmated Sandpipers Calidris pusilla and Least Sandpipers Calidris minutilla foraging together for invertebrates in the shallows along the sandbar.

These images were digiscoped with a Nikon mirrorless camera and Swarovski spotting scope.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla:




Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla:





And here are two from Stephen Barnard in Idaho, who apparently has taken up insect photography and—equally apparently—is good at it:

Honeybee [Apis sp.] with nearly full corbicula [“pollen basket”], pollinating Shasta Daisies [Leucanthemum × superbum]:


Drone fly (Eristalis tenax), introduced from Europe:



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