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Dells

Not to be confused with the Wisconsin Dells which are 100 miles south of Plover, the Dells of the Eau Claire County Park in Marathon County, Wisconsin, are spectacular. Divided in two by the Eau Claire River, the Dells offer an abundance of beautiful scenic views and plenty of opportunities for nature photography.

We spent the day wandering along woodland trails and clambering over rocks some of which have been dated at about 1.8 billion years old.

Our granddaughter likes to help find things for me to photograph and did an excellent job of spotting several interesting fungi, a toad and a caterpillar.  In fact she had me taking pictures of practically every leaf, mushroom, acorn and pinecone that we came across. Thank goodness for digital photography!  I don’t know how many rolls of film I would have used, otherwise.

 

 

There are several spots along the river where, if you are agile enough, you can climb onto the rocks that jut out into the water.  It’s amazing what you can do if you want to get a picture badly enough!

I can highly recommend a visit to this park if you are ever in the Plover area of Wisconsin.  I think you’ll find it well worthwhile.

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September at the Garden

There’s always something beautiful to see at the Chicago Botanic Garden no matter what time of year you go, but September always seems to have something special to offer.  The roses have usually taken on a new lease on life and when I went to the Garden a few days ago they looked gorgeous.

The water lilies too, seemed at the peak of perfection.

 

While I was there, a well-meaning gentleman offered to give me some tips on photography but when I explained that I couldn’t tell an f-stop from a bus stop, never read the camera manual and didn’t usually like to fiddle around changing settings and such, he gave me up as a hopeless case.  It was a kind thought, however, and I thanked him profusely.

This year’s theme, “Brazil in the Garden” provided visitors with plenty of unusual plants and flowers to enjoy, with Bromeliads, orange Canna lilies and Bismarck palms taking center stage.

Even the ducks seemed in a festive mood.

I was about to leave Evening Island when the great bells of the Carillon Tower clanged the two-o-clock hour.

Just time to visit the Plant Evaluation Garden before heading back home.

How Green Was My Spring Valley

It’s been a while since I last visited Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and there have been some changes which were noticeable as soon as I arrived.  There is a new children’s playground complete with slides, climbing areas and waterfalls where the kids can have a great time.  I just hope the parents don’t forego the opportunity of taking them around the rest of the facility to see all the wonderful things that nature has to offer, like flowers, animals, birds and other living, breathing things.  There is also a new pond that has been created nearby although it appears to be a work in progress.

With all the rain we’ve had just lately it wasn’t surprising that the place looked so lush and green. I love walking around here! Apart from the forest preserves, this is the closest thing we have to ‘being in the country.’ I think it would be impossible to count all the different plants that flourish in Spring Valley.

The water in the lake was quite high and covered with water lilies which made ideal resting and hiding places for the frogs. Underneath the surface it was teeming with life as frogs, fish and turtles, in a frenzy of activity, made hundreds of little waves in the water.

 

I was pleased to see that the Kid’s Garden was flourishing, with plenty of flowers and vegetables on display.  I think it’s so important to encourage children to take an interest in nature and that is just what the people at Spring Valley are doing so ably.  After all, the future of our world and the environment is in the hands of generations to come. In these troubling times, it would be a sad thing indeed if we did not make the effort to teach them to understand and respect nature and each other.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!

Did I ever tell you the story about this rabbit that I knew?  Well there was this rabbit and one day he decided that he was going to………….oh look, isn’t that a heron over there!

Beautiful birds!  It reminds me of the time I saw one when I was staying in……………Oh for goodness sake? What a racket! You can’t hear yourself think!  Here’s another plane coming in for a landing!

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, about that rabbit……………..look at those butterflies.  I’ll just see if I can get a picture now the breeze has dropped.

So this rabbit………….watch out! Don’t step on that frog. Wow! That was a close thing!

Now where was I? Oh yes. The rabbit decides that he’s going to…………….I thought I could hear a church bell ringing!  Yes, over there.

Perhaps we could just go in and have a look…………..no, wait a minute. Let’s see those horses in the field over there.

So, getting back to the story about this rabbit…………….I wonder what these flowers are called.

Well, this rabbit takes a chance and hops across……………….ooh, shiny!

It doesn’t take much to distract me.  For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Ooh, Shiny!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Apples and Apiaries

This week, Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge kicks off a new series of alphabet challenges with a twist.  Not only does the subject need to begin with an A but also a P.  Apparently, appointments have appropriated most of my leisure time today so here are a couple of quick entries that I thought would be apposite.  Apples and bees in an apiary at the Fruit and Vegetable Garden, part of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter A – Needs to start with the Letters Ap

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