Today, for Becky’s Square Lines Challenge, here are some scenic lines in the Badlands, South Dakota.
Today, for Becky’s Square Lines challenge I’m looking to the butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Garden to brighten up the day.
Butterflies, Flowers And Hummingbirds – Eeeeek!
The weather was perfect for a walk around the Chicago Botanic Garden on the first full day of autumn this week. The air was alive with bees, dragonflies and hummingbirds and there were butterflies everywhere!
I can never walk past the water lilies without taking a few shots even though I have so many of them in the photo files already.
There was an absolute cloud of dragonflies darting about in the rose garden but, for as long as I stood there and waited, I never saw one land so I had to be content with taking pictures of the roses.
As I was walking through the English walled garden, I overheard one of the gardeners telling a tour group that it has been almost 30 years since this particular section of the Garden was opened. Wow! Has it been that long? I remember Mum and I visiting the Garden the day after Princess Margaret attended the dedication ceremony in 1991. It was always one of our favorite areas in the Garden. According to what I was hearing, it is due for some serious renovations so I imagine it will be inaccessible for a while, in the not-too-distant future.
As usual, the Circle Garden had a splendid array of flowers and I was surprised to see some kind of giant magnolia in bloom.
And then there were the hummingbirds. The Garden apparently knows just what the hummingbirds like. I’ve never seen so many in once place before! Everywhere in the garden they were flitting about, racing from flower to flower. The giant blue sage seemed to be favorite.
This abundance of hummingbirds was great in one respect but rather unnerving in another. Those of you who have read some of my previous posts will know that I am terrified of birds, especially small ones that do a lot of fluttering. I really had to steel myself to stand still while they flashed past me and several times I let out a shriek as they zoomed by. For a while, I was standing next to someone who appeared to be a professional photographer (he had all the fancy gear and looked like he knew what he was doing with it.) We got talking and I explained that I was getting rather aggravated with my camera as it seemed to be focusing on everything but the hummingbirds. He offered some words of encouragement, pointing out the birds that were resting on a nearby branch and therefore easier to capture.
I have to give this man credit. He was very patient with me, especially after I had explained to him about my fear of birds (he must have wondered why I kept inadvertently screaming) and when, after I told him that I didn’t think I could handle any more fluttering and would quit while I was ahead, he even offered to escort me to the end of the path to make sure I was alright. If by any small chance you are reading this, sir, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks. Not too many people understand how debilitating these phobias can be (I was almost on the point of collapse by this time.) I didn’t want to take up any more of his time, however, and made a run for it, dodging more of these little flying gems as I went. Eeeeek!
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical
Well, here at least is one piece of good timing. I was about to post this and then saw Ann-Christine’s choice of subject for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge which is Magical. So this is my take on that topic. I’ve lost count of the number of swallowtail butterflies that we’ve raised and released over the years but in all that time I’ve never yet found a monarch caterpillar until now. I spotted it a week or so ago on the orange butterfly weed in our garden and brought it inside so that I could observe the changes from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, a process that is truly magical.
The other evening it looked as though it was about ready to make the first change and I sat and watched it for several hours but nothing happened. I got up early (for me) next morning and it was still hanging from the same stem, going through what looked like a few mild calisthenics and gyrations, sending little ripples of movement along the length of its body.
Again, I sat for several hours with camera at the ready as I wanted to record the moments when he finally shrugged and wriggled his way out of his brightly-striped skin. But I had to get up and move around eventually, and I thought I would just nip into the next room to check my emails. I swear I was gone for no more than ten minutes! And when I came hurrying back it was to find that the little stinker had done his magic and as I gazed at the chrysalis that now hung from the stem, I thought I could hear a faint raspberry being blown and a whispered, “Missed it! coming from inside. Unbelievable!!
Lego At The Zoo
Having spent countless hours with the grandchildren, over the years, trying to make anything remotely recognizable out of Lego, I can appreciate how much work went into creating the more than 40 life-size creatures that featured in Brookfield Zoo’s Brick Safari this summer.
Do these creations qualify as sculptures? I’m not sure, but they are certainly works of art.
The resulting photos have the rather weird effect of looking over-pixelated ( if that’s the correct term.)
One of my favorites was Lance the Leopard who required 42,500 bricks and 340 hours to complete.
It took 375 hours and 110,000 bricks to make Grace the Giraffe who weighs in at 1,652 pounds. That’s a lot of Lego!
The rhinoceros took 155,000 bricks and 403 hours to complete, while Eli the Elk took a mere 87,464 bricks.
The grizzly bears were quite impressive, taking 136,569 bricks and 382 hours to build. They looked quite at home in this woodland setting.
I’m not sure who worked on these amazing pieces but all I can say is, “Well done!”
Next to the great apes, I think bears are probably my next most favorite animal to watch at the zoo. On this particular day, Hudson the Polar bear was taking a dip in the pool. And what better way to dry off afterwards than a luxurious roll in the grass.
Meanwhile, over in the next enclosure, a grizzly bear was homing in on some lettuce that had been thrown over the wall, while another was diving for carrots in the pool. I was impressed by it’s swimming skills, rather like an underwater ballet, and the ability to hold its breath for quite long periods of time while foraging for these tasty snacks. To conclude, just let me say, “Go Bears!” both Brookfield and Chicago.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Framing Another Shot
I realize that I’ve already submitted an entry for Amy’s Framing the Shot, this week’s subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, but I was in Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago yesterday and when I saw this composition I thought how it would have fit right in with that theme, so I hope you will forgive me if I throw this one into the mix. Wishing everyone a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend.
The Great Apes
Tropic World at Brookfield Zoo features monkeys, primates and other animals from South America, Africa and Asia and there’s no doubt that among my favorites are the orangutans. Watching their agile antics and the interaction between family members, it’s not difficult to see why they are considered among the most intelligent primates. It’s also a tragedy that they are now a critically endangered species thanks in no small part to poaching and habitat destruction in their native home of Borneo and Sumatra.
Another critically endangered species and arguably the stars of the show at Tropic World are the gorillas. As much as I love taking the grandkids to the zoo, it’s also nice to take a solo trip especially if I want to concentrate on photography and on this particular day I had plenty of time to watch these great apes as they went about their daily business, without being urged to move on to something else.
The babies are always popular, drawing lots of oohs and aahs from the crowd, and the juveniles get plenty of laughs with their boisterous play but when the old silverback male arrives on the scene everyone keeps a respectful distance.
When a tempting snack of lettuces is thrown into the enclosure, he grabs one for now and tucks another under his haunches for later consumption. He’s the boss and nobody is going to argue with that if they know what’s good for them.
From meerkats to cats. Big cats! Zoo animals are very much creatures of habit, doing more or less the same thing at the same time every day, so I knew exactly where to find the snow leopard. He was taking a snooze on the ledge right by the viewing window.
Both the lions and tiger were also taking their morning siesta. They can sleep like this for hours so I decided to walk around for a while and come back later in the hopes that they might actually be moving around.
This plan paid off, at least as far as the tiger was concerned. He was on the prowl having taken a dip in the pool (something that I just missed) and appeared to be looking for something. He padded around the enclosure a few times and settled down to chew on some grass. Eventually, feeling that he’d fulfilled his obligation to entertain the customers, he returned to his ledge and went back to sleep.
Last Thursday I spent five hours capturing images at Brookfield Zoo so be prepared to be bombarded with animal pictures. I thought I’d devote each post to one particular species or group of animals and I’m starting out with meerkats. They all looked happy and healthy on a zoo diet of cat food, dry dog food, vegetables, bugs, fish and mice, and were, as always seems to be the case, in a very playful mood.
Taking pictures without flash in low light without a tripod was a bit of a struggle but, thanks to the digital camera, I got off so many shots that there were bound to be one or two that were usable. I couldn’t have done that with the old film camera when I could only afford a few rolls of film and then pay to get them developed.
I love meerkats! They play to the camera so nicely. There were two that appeared to be enjoying a game of hide and seek. First one, then both would curl up in a ball and then look out to see if anyone was watching.
It seemed like such a good wheeze that another pair joined them until eventually the whole clan was involved.