Tag Archive | animals

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

During our recent trip to Minnesota we were pleasantly surprised when we made a last-minute decision to visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in Saint Paul.  The conservatory was our main focus but when we realized that the zoo was right next door, we thought, “why not.” The fact that there was no admission fee for either place made a visit there even more enticing.


Besides the splendid plant collections inside the conservatory, there was a beautiful Japanese Garden and a spectacular show of water lilies outside the Visitor Center.

Although the zoo may not be as large as some, it had an amazing collection of animals in natural enclosures that allowed for some nice close-up photography opportunities.



 

 

 

Both the zoo and conservatory are operated by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department and are open year-round.

I can highly recommend a visit to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. It’s a great place for family fun as it also includes a small amusement park and carousel.



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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Farm Fences

In response to Ann-Christine’s topic of #10: Fences, this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, let me take you on a quick trip to Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.


Here, fences are not so much an intrusion as a picturesque part of the overall scene.  Many of them are weathered and some used only as a temporary measure but all of them seem to blend in with their surroundings.


Naturally, the animals on the farm play a large part in many of the fence images in my Spring Valley photo files.


And flowers play an important role in the pictures too, the fences sometimes appearing to be merely an adjunct to their cheerful color.

 

Whatever purpose the fences serve, they are nearly always a welcome addition to any image of Volkening Heritage Farm.


A Day At The Zoo

We recently hosted two of our grandchildren for a visit during their summer vacation and the first place our granddaughter wanted to go to was Brookfield Zoo. We’re always happy to put our membership to good use, so off we went.  The zoo covers a large area, some 216 acres, so there was plenty of walking involved, with lots to see and do.

 

The giraffes, largest animals in the ‘Habitat Africa! The Savannah’ exhibit, are always a favorite. The last time we were here we caught one of them in a scuffle with a pair of geese. Things were more peaceful this time. I’m always fascinated by the way these graceful creatures deal with the advantages and disadvantages of their height.


The featured attraction at the zoo this summer is the ‘Amazing Arachnids’ exhibit.  Display cases housed in a large tent hold a wide variety of these scary spiders most of them well hidden from view. Only the larger ones were easy to spot, if you could get near enough to get a look in.  The zoo is especially busy just now and a certain amount of patience is required if you want to see these creepy-crawlies up close.

The bears, meanwhile, were snoozin’ and cruisin’ in the summer sun, which was kind of surprising given how hot it was. You would think that they’d be favoring the shady areas (like the rest of us) with those thick fur coats they’re wearing but that didn’t prove to be the case.


When the ‘Tropic World’ exhibit opened in the 1980s it was, at that time, the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the world. It’s still a popular feature at Brookfield especially when there are young Western Lowland Gorillas getting up to all kinds of antics.

Large birds were much in evidence in all areas of the zoo, including a penguin that wasn’t the least bit camera shy, a couple of pelicans taking it easy by the Formal Pool, an emu that we got to meet up close and personal at the Hamill Family Wild Encounters exhibit, an eagle that appeared to have discovered something interesting in the undergrowth of its enclosure and a peacock that was just showing off in all directions.


After spending many hours walking around the zoo, our pace had slowed down to that of this tortoise so we figured it was about time to call it a day.

 

Distracted

Very often, when I visit the Chicago Botanic Garden, I tell myself that this time I’ll concentrate my photography on one particular area of the garden, not go wandering about willy-nilly snapping random pictures as I go.  It never works! It’s impossible to stick to the plan when there are so many things to distract me.  To give an example, this is how things went when I visited there last week.

“Okay, I’m going to head straight to the English Walled Garden this morning and I’m going to photograph the living daylights out of it!  Every flower, every shrub from every conceivable angle! But while I’m here I might as well get a few shots of the Esplanade and I have to go through the Heritage Garden anyway so I’ll take a few shots there too.”

“I’ll just get a closer look at these flowers, and ooh, look, there’s a chipmunk under here!”


“Right! Now! Straight to the English Garden! But we have to go past the Rose Garden. Oh, what the heck! I’ll only be a few minutes.”

“Now, right turn here.  No, that’s wrong. I should have turned left! Never mind. I’ll just have a quick look in the Circle Garden.”

 

“Now to get back on track, if I go down here past the Enabling Garden…..”

“What’s this sign say?  Corpse Flower! Well, I’ll have to see that while I’m down this way.”

“Mmm. Interesting! Okay, well it seems a pity to come this far out of our way and not see the Sensory Garden and if we take the path along there we’ll come out by Evening Island and ….”

“If we sit here for a while we’ll hear the bells.”

“Now, over the bridge and …… oooh look! Here comes the dredger! I’ll just follow its progress for a little way, past the Waterfall Garden….”



“Now how on earth did we manage to end up back in the Rose Garden?  Oh well, it won’t hurt to take this way back to the English Garden. Almost there!”


“See! I told you! Here we are at the English Walled Garden!  Good gracious! Is that the time already? Well I’ll just take a few shots while we’re here.”

 

 


“Next time I’ll concentrate on the Circle Garden for sure! No wandering around!”

And that’s how it goes.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Animals

The squirrels in Texas are very bold, let me tell you!  I didn’t need a long lens for this shot, in fact I was half-inclined to take a step back, as this feisty little critter gave every indication that he was about to run straight up my leg!

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Any Animal (no birds)

Elk Spotting

Maybe it’s because I’ve always driven by at the wrong time of day, but I had become increasingly concerned that I hadn’t seen any sign of the elk lately and feared that, owing to inevitable budget cuts, the Forest Preserve had decided to abandon the idea of maintaining the herd in Elk Grove Village.  It would surely be unthinkable!  But you never know, these days. I decided to stop and take a closer look.

I saw plenty of wild flowers including some red things that I think are trillium and some purple things which, as far as I’m concerned, must remain nameless. There were dozens of squirrels running about and a woodpecker was making quite a commotion up in the treetops while a few frogs gently burped in the background. Still no sign of the elk.

I walked up as far as the bridge that spans Higgins Road and then came back, keeping well to the side as some of the cyclists who use the path go speeding past dangerously fast. PLEASE! PEOPLE! Remember that pedestrians use this path too, some with small children.  Almost back to the parking lot and still no sign of the elk, but then, just as it seemed like my worst fears may be realized, there they were.

Phew! What a relief! They’re still with us, looking a bit ragged as they shed their winter coats but seemingly healthy. Elk Grove Village just wouldn’t be the same without the elk!