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The Wren and I

Those of you who have read some of my earlier posts will know that for me, sitting outside is something of a risky business. Being outdoors means being around birds and it seems that the older I get, the worse my phobia becomes, which is unfortunate, to say the least, when one of my favorite pastimes is nature photography.  However, during the first visit to our daughter’s new house on Lake Dalecarlia in Indiana, I took a chance and made myself comfortable out on the deck, the only birds visible being a group of female mallards and a heron basking in the sun on the boat dock (strangely, larger birds don’t seem to bother me quite so much.)

I was just settling in for a restful afternoon when I began to hear a persistent shrieking and chattering. Whatever it was didn’t sound happy and, before too long, the source of this noise became apparent.  A wren landed on the railing of the deck, hopped back and forth and took off again.  The process was repeated several times and, although I was somewhat apprehensive, I found this performance mildly entertaining and, with camera always at the ready, managed to get a few shots.

Then things got a little more unsettling.  The bird abandoned its stance on the railing and flew down onto the deck, making a quick tour around the table legs.  And I stood up, preparatory to beating a hasty retreat, which is why the following image was rather blurred.  It drives me crazy when people tell me, “Oh it’s much more afraid of you, than you are of it!”  Not so, dear reader!  When it comes to birds this is never the case and my screams have been known to be heard from one end of the street to the other when I’ve been caught by surprise by a sparrow or chickadee whilst out in the garden.  And this particular, pesky little ball of feathers was not afraid of anything. This wren was a wren on a mission and I was torn between my fears and a desire to record what was happening.

I edged closer to the steps which gave me a clear escape to the garden below and followed the wren’s progress as it scuttled behind the chair that I had so recently vacated.  Once again, it took off only to reappear a few minutes later on the roof.  It edged closer and closer to where I had been sitting and finally flew down. And to where?  I direct your attention back to the first picture and the planter hanging at the left of the image.  The wren was greeted by much enthusiastic chirping as it disappeared into the greenery.  I had been sitting just below its nest.

I informed the rest of our party what was going on and, while the others dined al fresco that evening, I watched from behind the window as the wren made several passes above their heads and perched on nearby fencing and furniture while generally making itself at home.  It made me wonder just who was hosting whom.  I hope to see the wren again, on future visits. At least next time I’ll know what to expect.

APAWC – Angry Birds

Nancy Merrill has chosen birds as the subject for this week’s Photo A Week Challenge and many of you will know that the only way I’ll take a picture of a bird is either from a safe distance or from behind a window or similar barrier.  My life-long fear of birds has kept me at a distance from these beautiful creatures but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate them or enjoy capturing the occasional image.   However, these birds were definitely not in a mood to be trifled with.

One angry bird!  This swan did not appreciate an over-inquisitive visitor to the Chicago Botanic Garden getting too close to its young ones.

Never get between a hawk and its dinner. This angry bird evidently didn’t welcome anyone else getting near the plat du jour.

This bird, at Brookfield Zoo, was decidedly cheesed-off about something. It kept marching up and down and making a lot of noise and I, for one, wasn’t about to get in its way.

Also at Brookfield Zoo, this eagle obviously considered it an invasion of his privacy when I used the long lens to get some candid shots.

For more on Nancy’s A Photo A Week Challenge go to A Photo a Week Challenge: Birds

Baffled

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…..but not for long.  I’ve given up trying to keep the squirrels off the bird food.  It’s certainly not worth going to any great expense to install fancy baffles and what-have-you. It doesn’t take these mangy little marauders more than a few minutes to figure any of that stuff out.  So I just improvise.  So long as it stalls them long enough for me to bash on the window and yell at them, that’s good enough.   And really, to be quite honest, I rather enjoy watching their antics.

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Halloween Challenge – Cat

Once again, I had to do a spot of improvisation for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ fourth day of her Halloween Challenge. The topic is Cat and I would normally associate black cats with Halloween, however, there were no black cats in the photo files, only a white cat named Sugar.  What to do?  Well, work a little bit of Halloween magic of course!  For more on Jennifer’s Halloween Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/10/02/jnws-halloween-challenge-ghost/

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Halloween Challenge – Pumpkin

Today is the first day of Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Halloween Challenge which runs through the entire month of October.  Jennifer has picked a Pumpkin for the first challenge and so, apparently, did this squirrel who made himself at home in the remains of one of our Halloween pumpkins last year. For more on Jennifer’s Halloween Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/09/26/jnws-halloween-challenge-2/

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Back to Life

Back to Life

Despite a gloomy start to Spring, the weather has improved considerably this past week, and things are finally coming back to life in the garden.  In fact, life has moved at such a pace recently that the daffodils came and went before we had time to really appreciate them. The tulips, however, are just starting to show what they can do.

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I spotted my arch-nemesis, the rabbit, outside the kitchen window the other day.  He was evidently working on the assumption that if he couldn’t see me, I couldn’t see him. Not so, my furry friend!  I’ve got my eye on you!  (note to self; get out there and spray coyote widdle on the lilies.)

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At least the azalea and tulipa tarda seem to be safe from this marauding muncher. Lilies appear to be his favorite snack which is why they get my special attention at this time of year.

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In all the years that we’ve lived here, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chipmunk in our garden. Plenty of other things have paid us a visit; ground squirrels, raccoons, skunks, possums, squirrels and rabbits to name but a few, but never a chipmunk, until now.  He may just be passing through, so I made sure to get quite a few shots of him for the picture files.

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Ducks have always been regular diners here and they showed up the other day to see what was on offer. They polished off all the bird seed that was on the ground and a few crusts of bread then waddled away to see what the neighbors were serving.

 

Time To Reflect – Alta

The first storm of the winter dumped several inches of snow on us last night and with temperatures due to plummet into the 20’s tomorrow it looks like hibernation time. I’m definitely not a cold weather person and have little interest in winter pursuits. I feel no strong urge to run outside and make snow angels or build a snowman. At least not these days. The older I get, the less I’m inclined to climb into cold-weather clothing and go hiking on snow-covered trails. I feel I have nothing to prove now. I’ll leave that to the younger generation.

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Instead I prefer to use this time to go through the photo files and reflect on all the things that we’ve seen and done in the past months. The highlight of the year was our trip to Utah and, going back over some of the images from that journey, I realize that I took a photo for almost every mile that we traveled, over 3,ooo miles in total.

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One of the side-trips we made while staying in Salt Lake City was to Alta and in particular the Albion Basin situated in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains. Alta is known for its ski slopes but in early September it’s also a lovely place to go hiking.

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We had heard of a 1.6 mile trail leading up to Secret or Cecret Lake as it is sometimes spelt, and despite having a few misgivings regarding the altitude and the fact that I hadn’t done any really strenuous hiking in a long time, we decided to give it a try.

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The scenery was spectacular and even though autumn hadn’t really got going by then, there were already patches of brilliant color along the way.

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The trail started out nice and easy but after crossing over a little stream things got rather more steep and rocky. Naturally it was like a walk in the park for my daughter (who was wearing flip-flops) and her husband, but after we’d been going for just over 30 minutes I started to feel the pressure to keep up.

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We took a break to watch someone taking the hard way up then continued on, passing several people who had already made it to the top and were on their way back down. They all told us how lovely it was at the lake, that the view was well worth the effort and that “It’s not much further!” And they kept telling us that even after another 20 minutes of climbing.

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My daughter took this picture of me as I stayed close to her husband who was leading the way.

I should probably mention here that a few years ago I had a bit of a medical emergency involving blood clots in my lungs and legs and, although I have been quite active ever since, I wasn’t sure if this aging body was going to make it to the end of the trail, especially when we took a wrong turn along the way and found ourselves at rather an impasse, at least as far as I was concerned. I had just reached the point where I had to sit down and tell the others to go on without me when luckily someone coming back down the trail pointed us in the right direction and with supportive coaching from the kids and several stops along the way with orders to “take slow, deep breaths” we finally reached our goal.

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It wasn’t all that big, as lakes go, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless. Bathing is not permitted so we had to stifle the urge to jump into its clear waters and after sitting on the rocks for a while and taking a few pictures we started back down to the parking lot.

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I have since Googled the trail to Cecret Lake to find out more about it and came across a quote that said, “There is nothing difficult about this hike. It is suitable for small children and seniors. This is more of a stroll than a hike.” I beg to differ but then that’s just me. I felt a definite sense of achievement at having made it there without collapsing.