Tag Archive | birds

Autumn In The Valley

It seems like autumn has only just begun but, the way time seems to fly by, I thought I’d better pay a visit to Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg before fall turned to winter.

Water levels were rather low on the pond. Up until this week we hadn’t had much in the way of rain and all the water lilies had died off but there were still lots of frogs to be seen.

I’d noticed a heron standing on the shoreline some distance away and was trying to get him in focus when a disturbance broke out a little nearer to me. A beaver had been swimming between the water’s edge and the lodge in the middle of the pond when all of a sudden a hawk swooped down and attacked it. The resulting pictures are not that clear but I thought I’d include some of them anyway. The hawk made several attempts to get at its prey, returning to nearby branches to regroup and try again, but eventually it gave up and flew off.

I took my cue from the hawk and walked to the other end of the pond where I watched two very small turtles trying to climb up on to a log and then not quite knowing what to do once they got there. They were being watched by a much bigger turtle who sat looking on with a rather superior air.

From there I went on to the farm where all was quiet except for the sound of two cows munching at the grass.

It seemed to me, upon reflection, that most of the action that day was taking place on the pond and, afraid that I might miss something, I headed back there, and had I not been so preoccupied, faffing about taking umpteen pictures of frogs, I might have captured something more than a shot of the beaver’s backside as it swam away from a spot where I usually sit by the water’s edge.

Oh well! You can’t win ’em all, and if I’ve learned anything about wildlife photography it’s that you have to be in the right place at the right time. The church bell was chiming the hour. Time for tea, so like the catterpilar, I hurried home.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Blue & Green

This week, Tina is thinking of cool colors like blue and green for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The majority of birds that visit our garden are sparrows so, when this little guy showed up the other day, it was quite an event. What was even more surprising was the fact that he stuck around long enough for me to run and get the camera. I’m no expert so I had to resort to my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. The closest I could come to it was an indigo bunting but, if anyone knows differently, I’ll be happy to hear from you. This is the first time in 30 years that we’ve seen one of these in the garden so I’m guessing he was blown rather off course.

I’ve been working hard in the garden for the past few weeks, restoring the area that was damaged when a main sewer line had to be replaced at the end of last year. It’s going to take a while for everything to grow and fill out, but in the meantime I was happy to see that the irises are looking absolutely fantastic. These are just the ones that appear in different shades of blue.

The false indigo is just starting to bloom too and will hopefully attract the bees. I’ve also taken delivery of some Blue Brazilian Sage plants that, when the blue flowers eventually emerge, should prove to be absolute hummingbird magnets. We’ll see!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Now and Then

This week, Amy is taking a view of Now and Then for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. These pictures are not that great but they help to illustrate my take on the theme. I have to confess, I was feeling rather blue yesterday at the thought of spending Thanksgiving Day on our own. Despite a Zoom meeting with the family in the morning, which just isn’t the same as actually being with them all, I was positively down in the dumps and, just about when we would normally be sitting down to dinner, I had a bit of a cry.

Then I looked out of the window. There, in the garden, were no less than fourteen mourning doves, all sitting comfortably outside the kitchen, waiting to be fed. It was just the number that would have been gathered around our table. What are the odds!! I’ve never seen that many doves at one time before and it lifted my spirits more than I can say.

Cee’s B/W Photo Challenge – Anything That Flies

This week, Cee is looking for Anything that Flies for her Black & White Photo Challenge. Charlie and Zeus are two American Bald Eagles that were discovered injured in the wild and brought to Brookfield Zoo in 2010 and 2011 respectively. They can fly but only just, which is why they are being cared for at the zoo.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

This week, guest host Ana from Anvica’s Gallery, recalls the song ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow‘ as the theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

Last week we were blessed with some exceptionally fine weather for November and everyone seemed to be enjoying the warmer temperatures. There also appeared to be some leg and wing stretching exercises in progress in preparation for those long winter days ahead. The first two images were captured at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg where there were a few mallard ducks, a couple of frogs that refused to be photographed and a lone turtle doing some calisthenics.

The creatures at Brookfield Zoo were certainly making the most of this late autumn reprieve and were soaking up the rays with evident pleasure.

Meanwhile, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, a tardy heron, who should probably have already been on his way south, stopped for a wash and brush up and gave his wings a bit of a stretch while an armada of geese sailed calmly by.

The sun may come out tomorrow but it probably won’t get much warmer and will definitely get a lot colder than this in the months to come.

Flurries

We have seen quite a flurry of activity in our garden recently; birds flying south, and who can blame them, while critters get ready to hunker down for the winter along with the rest of us. Robins have flocked here by the dozens, attracted by the red berries in the shrubbery, that also appealed to some passing starlings.

My arch-nemesis, the rabbit, and his pals have been frequent visitors, as have the squirrels. The rabbits just get on with the job of eating whatever’s there, while the squirrels rush about like mad things, nibbling at tasty morsels and burying the rest, then looking around in puzzlement, scratching their heads and wondering where they left it. No wonder random plants keep popping up all over the garden! Squirrels are the first ones up to the buffet in the morning and the last to leave at night. They believe in getting their money’s worth.

Although I’ve often heard and glimpsed the flicker flying around the neighborhood, going from tree to tree, I’ve rarely seen it on the ground so I was quite happy to get this shot, even though he stubbornly refused to turn around so I could capture the black medallion on his chest.

Another fairly rare sighting in the garden was this woodpecker. We usually see the smaller downy woodpecker that shows up when I hang the suet basket out.

The blue jay caused a flurry as it usually does, squawking and making a fuss, so unlike the placid mourning doves that go about their business with just the occasional mild “Coo.”

Mr. & Mrs. cardinal arrived one afternoon, watched closely by a line of sparrows. Later, what appeared to be a dialog between the male cardinal and a male sparrow ensued. Perhaps they were sharing a joke.

Sparrow-: “Have you heard the one about the bishop and the actress?” Cardinal-: “Haha! Nice one!”

Sparrow-: “I figured being a cardinal, you’d appreciate that one. Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.”

The juncos, goldfinches and purple finches snuck in when the sparrows were not hogging all the food. I think I identified them correctly but welcome any input if I didn’t.

Normally, at this time of year, if I saw these swallowtail caterpillars, I would bring them inside to await the emergence of some beautiful butterflies in the spring, but since the last batch produced almost nothing but parasitic wasps I decided to let this lot fend for themselves. Sorry!

Sunflower Memories

Just prior to us cutting down the last of the sunflowers in the garden, the goldfinches went on a feeding frenzy. It was as if they knew that they’d better make the most of what was left. (Just as an aside, I dislike this new block editing thing intensely, but, like everything else, I expect I’ll get used to it.)