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A Rowdy Bunch

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the most common birds we see in our garden are the sparrows. They’re a rowdy bunch and it’s difficult, at times, for the other birds to get a look in, although the woodpecker holds its own when it comes to defending the suet.

I’m always happy to see something other than a sparrow in the garden but there is one bird that is not welcome and that is the pigeon. One or two I can take, but as the Immortal Bard once wrote, “They come not single spies, but in battalions.” They’re greedy and messy and are difficult to get rid of once they make themselves at home. There are a flock of about twenty or more that have so far given our place a miss. Someone on the next street apparently encourages them. But they must have been away for a while because the pigeons decided to drop in unannounced the other day.

I knocked on the window and yelled, “Clear off!” but they just ignored me so I ran out there a couple of times and chased them away. They would circle around and thud back down on the roof, glaring at me. It seems the only way to discourage them is to remove the food completely. It appears to have worked, for now. I would much rather have a score of sparrows scrapping over the seed than a preponderance of pigeons pooping on the patio.

Walking Squares – At The Morton Arboretum

Another one of my favorite places to walk is at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, so here are a few shots taken on two of my most recent visits, the latest with fellow blogger, Janet from This, That And The Other Thing, for Becky’s Walking Squares Challenge. Janet helped me find the elusive ‘Human Nature’ sculpture (the first picture in this series) that I had previously missed and we spent a lovely day talking and walking around the Arboretum.

This is another one of those posts that serve to answer two challenges, the other one being Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere Challenge. There are plenty of water features throughout the Arboretum.

A Piece Of The Rock

A few weeks ago, we made a two-hour drive to Castle Rock State Park in Illinois, only to find out that it was closed! There was, however, a sliver of the park, between Route 2 and the Rock River, that was accessible, so the trip wasn’t a total loss. In fact, this may well have been the most scenic part of the entire park.

The Rock. a tributary of the Mississippi River, is the river that runs through Rockford, as mentioned in the previous post. I was also interested to learn that the Sauk and Fox Indians used to call it the Sinnissippi River, which accounts for the park of that name in Rockford.

A little further down the road, we came upon a promising sign and upon investigation it yielded another nice view of the river at ground level and, after much stair climbing, an excellent view of the surrounding countryside.

Walking Squares – In Rockford

Here is another entry for Becky’s Walking Squares Challenge. And it might also work for Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere Challenge and even Marsha Ingrao’s Photographing Public Art Challenge.

I’ve always enjoyed our visits to Rockford and I especially like walking in the area down by the Rock River, around Sinnissippi Park and the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens.

On our latest visit to Rockford, we also visited Midway Village Museum. Although the buildings were closed for the winter, we were able to walk around outside. This was another first for us and we were sufficiently intrigued to warrant another trip here next year, so more pictures in a future post.

LAPC – Wildlife Close To Home

This week, Anne Sandler has chosen Wildlife Close To Home as the theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. You couldn’t get any closer to home than this lot! If I left the door open they’d be walking inside and making themselves right at home.

There has been a flurry of activity in the garden since I put up the new birdfeeders. The squirrels have been temporarily thwarted by the store-bought baffle but they still have access to one table and have also been enjoying the pumpkins left over from Halloween.

We’ve had quite a variety of birds attracted by some premium quality seed mix and suet blocks. I don’t know how long I can afford to go on feeding them this gourmet diet but until the cash flow drys up I continue to take advantage of this current feeding frenzy. Some of the birds are merely passing through on their way to warmer climes while others are with us all year round.

Not sure what this little guy is but if anyone can enlighten me, I’d welcome your comment. As for the rest, I do know enough to recognize robins, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, finches, woodpeckers, sparrows and juncos.

There’s safety in numbers but when the hawk flies through, you’d better make a quick getaway. This time it managed to snag a sparrow.

And let’s not forget all the other critters that show up from time to time, including rabbits, foxes, raccoons, possums and ground squirrels. There’s no shortage of wildlife on our own doorstep (literally in some instances.)

Walking Squares – At The Chicago Botanic Garden

I do a considerable amount of walking during the course of the year, at places like the Chicago Botanic Gardens, and combining this exercise with the pleasure of photography makes the walk even more enjoyable. It’s good to see Becky’s Square Photo Challenge back again. Thank you for continuing to host this unique challenge, Becky!

It occurs to me that some of these shots might fit the bill for Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere Challenge too. And we might even Pull Up A Seat or two with XingfuMama.

Last year, I wrote a piece called Thoughts on Walking. It was on one of my other blogs that I rarely use so it didn’t get much notice. If you didn’t already see it and have the time and the inclination to read it, I would be thrilled.

Glacial Park – Who Knew?!

Glacial Park in McHenry County, another one of those places practically on our own doorstep that we’ve never visited before, turned out to be well worth the trip. Covering some 3,439 acres with 5 miles of trail, Glacial Park is run by the McHenry Conservation District.

Along the trail, we came upon a snake that blended in so well with the background that I almost didn’t see it until it moved off into the leaves along the side of the path.

It turns out that Glacial Park is a great place for birdwatching too. At the Lost Valley Visitor Center, on their deck high atop the trees, bird feeders attract all kinds of birds. The lady working the information desk was very helpful and even clued me in on what kind of bird seed they use to entice them.

Baffled!

…….But not for long. As soon as I put out two new bird feeders the other day, my archnemesis, the squirrel, was all over them. Being the thrifty soul that I am, I thought I could devise some kind of baffle to stop him from rocketing up the pole every few minutes and scarfing down all the seed. I added a couple of plastic plant pots which gave the little critter pause for thought. You could almost see the wheels in his tiny brain turning has he looked at the problem from every conceivable angle.

First of all he tried leaping over them, but for every modification that I made, he pushed himself to jump that much higher. Their jumping capabilities are absolutely incredible and if there was ever a Squirrel Olympics, this one would have won a gold medal hands down.

But eventually he reached his limit and he went away to rethink the whole thing. He returned next day with a cunning plan. After making sure the coast was clear he proceeded to climb up inside the pot and push it upwards with his head. It took him a few attempts in this fashion until he finally pushed it all the way to the top with the following results.

Needless to say, I ended up having to go out to the store to purchase a squirrel baffle, paying as much for it as I would spend on two dinners for us, just so the birds can enjoy their meals in peace. The squirrel hasn’t given up however, and I wouldn’t put it past him to figure out a way to get up there. Never underestimate the resourcefulness of a squirrel.

Autumn In The Grove

Since I was last at The Grove in Glenview, almost a year ago, the little pools and ponds all seem to have dried up or become overgrown. The area shown in the first picture used to be quite a sizeable pond near the Interpretive Center. Now, the deer are using the grass that grows there as camouflage while they take a rest.

Despite living relatively close to the city, we are lucky to have such areas so close at hand. It’s nice to see the wildlife in their natural habitat thanks to various park districts and forest preserves. The Grove is managed by the Glenview Park District and covers 150 acres of woodland.

There are plenty of squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about, stocking up on supplies for the winter. And there’s plenty for all, with oak trees and other sources of food in abundance.

At one point, during our walk, I noticed a deer quite close to the trail. I kept as still as possible so it could get used to me being there and gradually it came closer and closer until it was almost within touching distance. But then, a toddler accompanied by his mother came along the trail and the spell was broken. Still I was lucky enough to get a few good shots.

The Potawatomi settled in this area in the mid-18th century. They had numerous camps in Northern Illinois including one at The Grove. Kennicott legend references a peaceful interaction between the family who settled in The Grove and their Potawatomi neighbors. The Grove was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills!

Autumn gold, that is. And the hills are in Moraine Hills State Park, Illinois. Despite only living about an hour’s drive from here, this was our first trip to the park. As with many of these places, I feel that Autumn is the best time to visit. No aggresive springtime nesting redwings. or pesky summer mosquitoes.

There were plenty of easy walking trails and some beautiful scenery but the best part, for me, was when a flock of cedar waxwings stopped at some nearby trees to snack on the berries.