Tag Archive | birds

Spring Things

Despite the fact that the weather has been freezing one minute and tropical in nature the next, I did manage to capture some Spring things in the garden with the camera. Because of all the rain, everything is looking very lush and green with flowers bursting out all over.

In fact, everything has been growing so well that even the rabbit can’t keep up. We have had what amounts to a bunny explosion here, of late, but thankfully there have been enough weeds to keep them occupied while my lilies and other tasty bits have continued to flourish unmolested.

On the butterfly front, We had a disappointing outcome to the dozen or so Swallowtail pupa that we kept overwinter, when all but one produced nothing but very mean looking parasitic wasps which were evidently the result of the parent wasp laying its eggs in the caterpillars in the fall. I had all but given up hope when the final Swallowtail emerged from its papery parcel and, after sufficient time to dry off, was released it into the garden. What happened to it after that, I cannot say, but it reminds me of a little anecdote regarding a moth.

When our daughter and her husband lived in Texas they spotted a moth that had fallen into the swimming pool.  It was making a gallant effort to extricate itself without much success.  They were fully clothed at the time (the kids, not the moth) so they couldn’t dive in to assist it but being the tender-hearted people that they are, they searched for the net that was used to scoop out unwanted debris and after much faffing about, finally managed to haul the moth in and laid it gently on the deck to dry whereupon a bird promptly flew down and ate it.

I hope our Swallowtail managed to survive at least long enough to have a look around. We have caught fleeting glimpses of other butterflies  in the garden and received a more prolonged visit from a monarch that appeared to be enjoying the chives by the back door as did a rather large bee which put up with me sticking the camera in its face for only so long before it became irate and chased me off.

Usually at our house, at this time of year, you’ll hear the cry go up, “Ducks are in!”  For nearly thirty years, we have played host to passing mallard ducks that are making their way to the pond at our local park. They’ll return several times and one year they even made a nest behind one of our shrubs. Unfortunately something ate the eggs, but the following year they returned, this time with ducklings in tow. They appear to feel right at home, helping themselves to the bird seed that I put out, sometimes marching up and down on the roof or paddling in the little ground-level birdbath.  They normally arrive first thing in the morning and twice this week I’ve looked out of the window and seen them actually standing on the door mat. They’ll be knocking on the door next.

Strangely enough, ducks are one of the very few species of bird of which I am not afraid. I can’t explain it other than the fact that they don’t do a lot of fluttering, which accounts for the clarity of these pictures as I was standing outside right next to them, rather than taking a hazy shot through a window which is how I get a lot of my bird pictures.

However, it was a different story with this baby robin. The neighborhood probably heard me scream when, going around the garden with the camera and taking pictures of the flowers, I realized that I was within touching distance of this little guy who just sat there looking puzzled as I shrieked and fell backwards into the irises. I ran back into the house to get a longer lens and took this picture from a safe distance.

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Delicate Colors

This week, Ann-Christine is looking for Delicate Colors for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Spring seems to have raced past us at an alarming rate and didn’t really feel like spring at all to me, probably because I missed a couple of the usual spring-time rituals like visiting the daffodils at Morton Arboretum and the lilac festival at Lilacia Park in Lombard. The first picture was taken there last year.

Like many others, I am anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the Chicago Botanic Garden. The palette of colors at the Garden includes everything from delicate pastels to vibrant hues some of which can be found in the annual butterfly exhibit. I’m looking forward to seeing the hummingbirds too, although from a safe distance. (this not because of social distancing but because I am terrified of birds at close quarters.)

After all the rain, the sun finally brought out the flowers on the tree peony in our garden. This event is something that the whole neighborhood seems to enjoy, judging by some of the comments coming from passers-bye. Its delicate colors and heady perfume are something I look forward to every year and it certainly didn’t disappoint, maybe because I gave it some extra words of encouragement.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Challenge last week and for all your comments. I really enjoyed reading all about your pastimes and seeing the accompanying pictures.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Cropping The Shot

This week, Patti suggests that we try Cropping the Shot for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  One of the most useful tools in the image-processing arsenal is the cropping tool.  I can’t tell you how many shots I rescued from the trash with a little judicial cropping.

I can even ‘zoom in’ by the simple expedient of the cropping tool, giving me a closer look at something way off in the distance, as I did with this shot taken at Arches National Park in Utah.

And if I’m really lucky I can get four shots for the price of one with the aid of the cropping tool, as I did with this image that was captured along Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, each picture focusing on a different aspect of the overall scene; the more leisurely pace of the bike path, the hustle and bustle of the traffic on the Drive and the work going on aloft.

 

Autumn Curtailed

Owing to a painful case of shin splints (or possible stress fracture) which has seriously curtailed my walking activities for the past few weeks, I have not been able to get out and about to enjoy the Autumn season as much as I would have liked. However, the weather in October was really not that great and looking back at the last trip I made to the Chicago Botanic Garden, it was probably one of the few really nice days that we have had recently so I’m glad I was able to at least capture some of the Fall colors before I was reduced to hobbling around on crutches.

I was able to get a good view of what looked like a young heron (his feathers still seem rather downy) from the bridge. I hope he hasn’t left it too late to start heading south for the winter.

This was the scene outside our back door recently so I think we’ve seen the last of the warm, sunny days of autumn in the garden.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Seeing Double

This week, Tina is asking us to See Double for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Rainy days and time on my hands due to a gimpy leg has prompted me to resort to more tiddling about on the computer.  The first three images are new creations but the last one is something I came up with many years ago that I thought fitted in with this week’s subject.

 

Winding Down

Things are winding down now in our garden and this is when most of the hard work begins. There are still a few flowers about, although most of the plants and shrubs have been trimmed, thinned or eliminated altogether depending on how well they’ve done this year.

The rabbits have stuffed themselves to bursting point on whatever they could get hold of, including the bird seed and my best lilies.

The birds are on the move and making their way south so we are seeing some different species from the usual sparrows.  This one showed up last week. It was fairly small with a distinctive yellow rump. Not sure what it is so if anyone has any ideas I’d be happy to hear from you.

The cosmos and marigold flowers are particularly colorful right now and are attracting the last few butterflies. There are still a lot of bees buzzing about too, which leads me to an ideal opportunity to give my grandson’s podcast God of Honeybees a plug. The latest episode is about the study of consciousness. Interesting stuff so I hope you’ll give it a listen.

Butterflies, Flowers And Hummingbirds – Eeeeek!

The weather was perfect for a walk around the Chicago Botanic Garden on the first full day of autumn this week. The air was alive with bees, dragonflies and hummingbirds and there were butterflies everywhere!

 

I can never walk past the water lilies without taking a few shots even though I have so many of them in the photo files already.

There was an absolute cloud of dragonflies darting about in the rose garden but, for as long as I stood there and waited, I never saw one land so I had to be content with taking pictures of the roses.

As I was walking through the English walled garden, I overheard one of the gardeners telling a tour group that it has been almost 30 years since this particular section of the Garden was opened. Wow! Has it been that long? I remember Mum and I visiting the Garden the day after Princess Margaret attended the dedication ceremony in 1991.  It was always one of our favorite areas in the Garden. According to what I was hearing, it is due for some serious renovations so I imagine it will be inaccessible for a while, in the not-too-distant future.

As usual, the Circle Garden had a splendid array of flowers and I was surprised to see some kind of giant magnolia in bloom.

And then there were the hummingbirds. The Garden apparently knows just what the hummingbirds like. I’ve never seen so many in once place before! Everywhere in the garden they were flitting about, racing from flower to flower. The giant blue sage seemed to be favorite.

This abundance of hummingbirds was great in one respect but rather unnerving in another. Those of you who have read some of my previous posts will know that I am terrified of birds, especially small ones that do a lot of fluttering. I really had to steel myself to stand still while they flashed past me and several times I let out a shriek as they zoomed by.  For a while, I was standing next to someone who appeared to be a professional photographer (he had all the fancy gear and looked like he knew what he was doing with it.)  We got talking and I explained that I was getting rather aggravated with my camera as it seemed to be focusing on everything but the hummingbirds.  He offered some words of encouragement, pointing out the birds that were resting on a nearby branch and therefore easier to capture.

I have to give this man credit. He was very patient with me, especially after I had explained to him about my fear of birds (he must have wondered why I kept inadvertently screaming) and when, after I told him that I didn’t think I could handle any more fluttering and would quit while I was ahead, he even offered to escort me to the end of the path to make sure I was alright. If by any small chance you are reading this, sir, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks. Not too many people understand how debilitating these phobias can be (I was almost on the point of collapse by this time.) I didn’t want to take up any more of his time, however, and made a run for it, dodging more of these little flying gems as I went.  Eeeeek!

A Good Reception

It’s a good thing we don’t rely on this old TV antenna for a good reception of our viewing entertainment.  After these two birds finished bouncing up and down, it got totally bent out of shape. And they weren’t about to be scared off.  Even when I went outside with the camera, they gave me quite the glare.

From The Window

I spent much of yesterday birdwatching from the kitchen window.  A family of grey catbirds had become resident in the garden but although we could plainly hear them, they proved rather elusive to spot, so I figured the only way I was going to stand any chance of capturing them on camera was to sit and wait patiently by the window. Any kind of bird that isn’t a sparrow is a welcome sight in our garden, we usually see little else, although we do get quite a few goldfinches at this time of year.

Now don’t get me wrong. Sparrows are fun to watch. They are a rowdy bunch and quite resourceful when it comes to finding food. There are a lot of young sparrow families out there right now so there is quite a bit of activity around the birdbath and surrounding area.

Naturally, the birds are very cautious as there is always the threat of attack from the local hawk who is constantly keeping an eye on what’s going on down below.

So I wait to see what develops and, wouldn’t you know it, my old friend the rabbit shows up, followed closely by a squirrel.

 

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever catch a glimpse of the catbird when all of a sudden, there it is! Gotcha!

Then two more show up!  I think they are nesting in the tangle of shrubs that have grown rampant following earlier rains. Anything could be living in there! I half-expect to see Big Foot step out of the undergrowth first thing in the morning, or at the very least a stray cougar.

Getting one catbird in the frame was great but two was even better. They loved the birdbath and were even willing to share it with the sparrows.

Then, just when everything seemed to be going along splendidly, a shadow swooped overhead and the hawk made a pass across the rooftops. I don’t think he was successful but every creature in the garden scattered, putting paid to any further activity and I had to be content with what I had.