Tag Archive | birds

Art and Autumn at the Arboretum

Just in time, we were able to catch the last few days of this year’s sculpture exhibition, Origami in the Garden, at the Morton Arboretum last month. These beautiful metal sculptures, created by Kevin and Jennifer Box, are modelled after the art of Origami or paper folding and the Arboretum was the perfect backdrop for this amazing artwork.

 

Not only did we get to enjoy the art but also some nice autumn scenery, even if the colors weren’t as vibrant this year.

In order to replicate the Origami creations, each sculpture goes through a 35-step, 12-week process of casting in bronze, aluminum or steel.

The turtles are real, but the raptor is another of Kevin Box’s clever creations.

This piece, entitled Double Happiness, shows a pair of nesting cranes which often appear in art as the symbol of companionship and happiness in marriage.

These intricately designed birds appear to be flying away from Meadow Lake.

Advertisements

September at Cantigny

Had I not visited their website beforehand, I might have been disappointed when we arrived at Cantigny Park in Wheaton to find that most of the formal gardens were closed for renovation. As it was, I was prepared and, rather than being let down, was interested to see just what improvements they had already made. The ongoing project named New Leaf includes alterations to the First Division Museum, formal gardens, the McCormick house, parking lots and picnic area but, because they seemed to be working mostly in one part of the park, there were still plenty of places to enjoy on a sunny day.

Luckily the Rose Garden was still intact and even though the sprinklers were going at full blast I was able to get close enough to capture a couple of images.

The Pergola that runs parallel to the Rose Garden was decorated with beautiful hanging baskets and, beside this, the ground beneath the trees in the Allee was covered with masses of fallen chestnuts.  Seeing this always reminds me of when we used to collect ‘conkers’ when we were children. I’m sure that game went the way of the Dodo.

The Idea Garden was looking at its best with a mix of vegetables and colorful flowers including some gorgeous dahlias.

 

There was a nice show of Brazilian sage in the Idea Garden which was attracting the bees and also a hummingbird which obligingly landed on a nearby shrub.

The flowers weren’t the only colorful things in the garden. I’m not sure what the armchair thing was all about but there were several scattered about the Park. As usual, I was too eager to start taking pictures to read the sign and have not, subsequently, been able to find out anything about them. If anyone knows, I’d be happy to hear from you.

 

I look forward to returning to Cantigny next year.  It’s hard to imagine how it could look any more impressive than it already does, but it will be interesting to see what improvements they have made.

For more on Cantigny Park visit http://www.cantigny.org/

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!

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!

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

OWPC – Heron

Perfect timing!  The subject for Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge this week is heron.  Traveling down to Indianapolis for our grandson’s wedding last week, we stopped at Lake Dalecarlia for a couple of days and were greeted by a heron that visited the family’s boat dock every morning and evening. It followed the same pattern each day, landing on one side of the boathouse and strolling around to the other side to take off again.  For more on Jennifer Nichole Wells One Word Photo Challenge go to This Week’s Challenges: July 9 – 15 (OWPC & WW)