Tag Archive | animals

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!

 

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Whose Zoo

Under normal circumstances nothing would induce me to visit somewhere like Brookfield Zoo on a sunny, mild Sunday, but when the Grandkids visit on a weekend and Sunday is the only available day, I have to brave the crowds and make the best of it.  As I suspected it would be, the place was packed! Luckily my Granddaughter is old enough to get around under her own steam and doesn’t tire easily so we got in a solid three hours of walking and seeing all kinds of wild and wonderful creatures. She even enticed me into the Australia House, something I swore I’d never do again after Mom and I were dive bombed by a giant bat, but I’m glad I chanced it as I got a nice shot of this kookaburra.

I always enjoy watching the giraffes. We caught this one in a confrontation with a couple of geese. The giraffe was a young one and was naturally curious about the two noisy interlopers in its enclosure. He bent down to get a closer look but the goose took exception and put up a bit of a fight. The youngster jumped back in alarm and then ambled off to chew on a few twigs.

My Granddaughter loves dogs so this one, an African painted dog, naturally caught her eye. No, I don’t think Momma will let you bring this one home!

Next up were the bison. I haven’t been this close to one of these animals since the time I found myself on the outside of an enclosure just a few yards away from one that they’d neglected to round up with the others, in Custer State Park, South Dakota. It was looking for its buddies and had snuck up on me, there being only one other hapless photographer between me and it.  Needless to say, I made a slow, backwards retreat to the car.

Granddaughter likes to get into the spirit of the thing.

On to everyone’s favorite, Tropic World. Well, everyone except me. I’m never very comfortable in here, with the birds flying about, but luckily they didn’t come too close and I was able to focus my attention on the animals.

The gorillas are always most impressive. especially the large silver-backed male who kept a wary eye on us and his family. There were several young ones playing about and I could feel for the mother as she tried to catch a few moments peace and quiet before they were back, jumping on top of her.

As is very often the case, many of the larger animals were taking a siesta and there wasn’t much action to be seen in either the bear or big cat enclosures.

 

It was a different story over by the sea lions. They were being put through their paces by some of the keepers and were demonstrating their fish-catching and flipper waving skills. Unfortunately there was a thick mesh screen separating us from the action but I found that if I zoomed in close enough with the camera, it magically disappeared.  All in all, quite a successful day, with one satisfied kid (after we’d stopped at the gift shop) and plenty of pictures to share.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Cheeky

As I have had occasion to remark in previous posts, the wildlife in our neighborhood has a tendency to stand its ground when I go outside to take it to task for eating my best flowers or raiding the bird feeders. Nothing comes close to the cheek of the rabbit when we stare each other out over some tasty lily shoots, he looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth and me shaking my fist and muttering curses. But the squirrel comes a close second.  Neither of them have any fear and their audaciousness knows no bounds.

And you can add another critter to that list. A few weeks ago we spotted this fox in a garden a few doors down.  I was a bit cheeky myself and ran round to the neighbor’s back yard to get a closer shot with the camera. I didn’t think he’d mind (the neighbor, not the fox.) But then, apparently, neither did the fox.  He just sat there, chowing down on some tasty morsel and watching me as I draped myself over the fence. My presence bothered him not one iota.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Cheeky

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Lion

This week’s ‘alphabet with a twist’ segment of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge requires a word starting with L that has at least two syllables and, going through the photo files, I came across these images that I captured at Brookfield Zoo a while back.  This magnificent lion was in just the right spot to have his picture taken and I made the most of a rare opportunity to catch his different moods.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter L – Needs to have at least two syllables

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Elk of Elk Grove Village

Continuing with the ‘alphabet with a twist’ theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, this week’s topic is the letter k.  If a word has only three letters and one of them is a k, there’s a pretty good chance that the word might be elk.  And what better place to find elk than in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. These majestic creatures are not native to the area but, because of the name association, a small herd of elk are kept in a protected part of Busse Woods Forest Preserve. They are cared for by the Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff and Busse Woods Forest Preserve wildlife experts.

The original herd of 10 elk was brought in by train from Yellowstone National Park in Montana in 1925 by local resident William Busse.  The best time to see them is either early morning or at dusk.  They spend a lot of time amongst the trees but when they do come out into the open field they’re a beautiful sight.

I should add that these images were captured a few years ago.  For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter K – Needs to have the letter K anywhere in the word

 

The Ecstasy and the Agony

It’s all been happening out in the garden this summer, with or without my help.  The good thing about having mostly perennials and flowers that self-seed is that they more or less take care of themselves.  They don’t need a lot of watering, although goodness knows we’ve had plenty of rain to keep them happy, and, if carefully chosen, don’t require much in the way of fertilizer. It’s sheer ecstasy to walk out in the garden first thing in the morning and see all those beautiful flowers.

The sunflowers, cosmos and cleome came up in such profusion in the back garden this year that I was in danger of losing our smallest grandchildren out there when they came to visit. And not to worry if I didn’t have time to plant a fresh batch of snapdragons.  They came up all on their own.

Even the wildlife is plentiful this summer.  I spotted a possum creeping about among the bushes and the rabbit population is growing in leaps and bounds (not sure if I’m too happy about that.)

Just outside my window, as I’ve been sitting working on the computer, the birds have been showing off and all I have to do is whip the camera out and capture a few shots of the humming bird hovering in the breeze and a goldfinch getting to the bottom of things.

Unfortunately, all this ecstasy doesn’t come without a little bit of agony.  A few weeks ago I was outside working on a project when I was chased around the garden by an angry hornet and stung, quite painfully on the top of my head.  At first I thought it was just a lone troublemaker but last week I discovered a nest in one of the shrubs right down by the sidewalk.  It won’t be long before the neighborhood kids are walking past on their way to school and I certainly wasn’t about to anger the hornets any further by working in the adjacent flower beds so I had no option but to call in the experts.

Enter Mike from ABC Wildlife Control who assured me that he would take care of the situation.  I asked him what the procedure was and he said, “I spray the nest and then run.”  Apparently they had determined that these particular hornets were the extremely aggressive variety, so I could sympathize with him.  “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din,” was my view. I stood at a safe distance and watched as he did his stuff.  Afterwards, he warned us to stay out of the garden for the rest of the day as the hornets were likely to be really !*!*!* off.  He didn’t have to tell me twice! I was lucky that I’d only been stung once.  That was agony enough!  I wasn’t about to risk any more.

Things seem to have calmed down out there now, so hopefully I can get back to work, pulling weeds and dead-heading the flowers without fear of hornet reprisals.  Good work, ABC Wildlife!

Tongues

When I posted a few giraffe pictures recently for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ One Word Photo Challenge, fellow blogger, Scillagrace, pointed out that I had omitted to include any which show the giraffe’s prodigious tongue.  Going back to the photo files I managed to find a few that give only an idea of just how long it really is.  A giraffe’s prehensile tongue can measure anything up to 18 to 20 inches in length. Very useful for reaching those tasty leaves on the topmost branches of a tree in the wild but at the zoo the food is put within easy reach so there’s not much call for any kind of strenuous tongue activity.