Tag Archive | bugs

APAW – Things With Wings

Nancy’s choice of subject for this week’s Photo A Week Challenge is Things With Wings so to kick things off, I brought back my feathered friend from the Chicago River for another appearance. I took so many shots with different poses and angles that I don’t think I’ve ever had to use the same picture twice.

Some beautiful wings at the Chicago Botanic Garden butterfly exhibit. A must-see at the Garden every summer.

Taking a stroll around our own back garden earlier this year, it was good to see plenty of bees buzzing around, and as usual there were grasshoppers galore.

For more on Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge go to Things with Wings.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Blending

This week, Ann-Christine asks if it’s better to blend in or stand out in a crowd. Frog and Toad evidently feel it’s a good idea to blend in with their surroundings. They know their lives may depend on it, the frog in a pond at Spring Valley Nature Center and the toad crouching on a dry river bed in Lafayette, Indiana.


The monarch butterfly, however, enjoys flaunting its gaudy patterns in the open and doesn’t seem too concerned about standing out in a crowd. These two, in downtown Chicago and at the Morton Arboretum couldn’t resist showing off their true colors.



So is it better to blend in or stand out? The next picture was taken in our garden and shows another creature who likes to remain inconspicuous among the leaves, a praying mantis, and its hapless victim, a monarch butterfly. So I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to Blending In – or Standing Out?

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Letters G or H

The letters for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week are G or H and, keeping to my chosen theme of nature and more specifically animals, bugs and the like, I didn’t have too hard a time coming up with the goods.

The patterns on this giraffe make for great camouflage among the leaves at Brookfield Zoo.

Despite being stripped of his brilliant color by the b/w treatment of this image, a greedy goldfinch in our garden still makes a good subject for the letter G.

A giant grasshopper; at least it appears that way thanks to this close encounter at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

A hopeful hen looking for food and a handsome horse waiting to do a little light work at the Volkening Heritage Farm in Spring Valley Nature Center, Schaumburg.

A hungry hawk making short work of a hapless sparrow.

This picture of a huge hippo was taken back in the day when Brookfield Zoo still kept a number of large mammals.  Somehow the whole zoo-going experience just hasn’t been the same without these giants.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/23/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-g-or-h/

 

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Letters C or D

Continuing the alphabet theme for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge, this week’s letters, C & D provided several images from the nature photo files.

The king of the cats; a lion catching a few rays at Brookfield Zoo.

cautious chipmunk, ready to run at the first sign of danger.

We always stop off to visit the contented cows in Volkening Heritage Farm when we go walking at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.

A darting dragonfly taking a break at Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca.

A rescue dog visiting the old Randhurst Shopping Mall in Mount Prospect; part of a winter festival that also featured snow sculptures.

A daring duck paddling in the fast-flowing waters of the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/09/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-c-or-d/

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Crawling and Flying

Cee is certainly putting us through our paces as she has us crawling and flying for this week’s Fun Foto Challenge.  For some, like this great blue heron taking off into the sunrise just outside Mackinac City, flying comes naturally…..

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while most of us need a little help, like this plane coming in for a landing at O’Hare Airport in Chicago………

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And others just launch themselves down a hill and hope for the best, like this ski jumper in Fox River Grove.

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Crawling takes a bit of practice, as our granddaughter demonstrates.  How quickly they grow up!  Now she’s swimming, bike riding and doing gymnastics.

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And here’s something we found crawling up the wall at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center in Ashland, Wisconsin.

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For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/02/07/cees-fun-foto-challenge-crawling-or-flying/

A Golden Day

What better way to celebrate the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series than a leisurely stroll around Spring Valley Nature Center on a sunny, 65 degree day in November!  Yes folks, miracles do happen!  After all the baseball hype and excitement of the past few days, it was nice to get away from it all yesterday and just relax, if you can call walking about for two hours relaxing.  For some of us it is, especially when you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat for what seems like a lifetime, waiting for the Cubs to finally win the big prize.

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And it seemed like Mother Nature was celebrating with us, everything basking in a golden glow.  Finally we could take a deep breath and enjoy life after all those years of torment.

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It’s been a couple of months since I was at Spring Valley but apart from the new children’s play area that is being built near the entrance, things are pretty much the same.  The farm will probably be closing for the winter soon, so I was glad to be able to make one last visit there this year.  One of the horses, that had an abscess in its hoof, was being attended to by the resident veterinary technician who kindly let me stay and watch the proceedings. She did an amazing job and the horse didn’t seem the least bit bothered as she applied some gooey green stuff to the hoof.

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After that, I went on to the farmhouse where I met a young lady in costume who kindly posed for me. Everyone at Volkening Farm is very friendly and helpful.  I would have visited the house but unfortunately the immediate area was being patrolled by a ruthless band of chickens and as many of you will know, I have a terrible fear of birds, and chickens in particular, so I stayed well back and used the long lens, glancing around me every few seconds to make sure none of them were creeping up behind me.

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Leaving the farm, I walked past the track to the arboretum and headed towards the cabin that used to be the old visitor center.  A nice surprise was awaiting me on the path, two deer that stayed just long enough for me to take a couple of pictures.

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Leaving the cabin, I went along the road to the pond and found several frogs making the most of the sunny day.  There was a handy bench by the water’s edge so I got comfortable while a duck paddled over, thinking there might be something to eat in the offing. It soon realized there was nothing doing and steered away to the other side of the pond.   A dragonfly landed nearby, blending in nicely with its surroundings.

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I would have stayed longer but time was getting on so I bid goodbye to the frogs, (I’ll swear I heard one of them croak “Go Cubs!” as I left) and made my way back to the parking lot. There most likely won’t be too many more days for strolling around but, as we always used to say with the Cubs, “Wait till next year!”

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Travel Theme: Hidden

Ailsa’s Travel Theme challenge this week on Where’s My Backpack at http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/09/06/travel-theme-hidden/ is Hidden.

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Whenever I go in search of wildlife at nature centers or forest preserves I find that most things usually manage to stay hidden. Many creatures in nature are masters of disguise, it’s a necessity if they want to stay alive, and it sometimes takes a keen eye and a considerable amount of patience to spot them in their native habitat.

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It was quite a while before I found this toad sitting on the dry bed of the Wabash River in Lafayette Indiana, last summer. We had been told there were hundreds of them, by a family returning from a walk along by the river, but this was the only one that I managed to discover hiding in plain sight.

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These garter snakes were well hidden among the autumn leaves at Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington, Illinois, until I almost stepped on them and they naturally became somewhat agitated.

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The praying mantis always presents a challenge when I’m looking for him in the garden. He blends in so well with the surrounding foliage. This is what makes him such a formidable predator and butterflies or, in this case, bees had better beware.

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Their egg cases are equally well-camouflaged as they wait through the autumn and winter months to release their precious contents in the spring.

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Frogs usually keep fairly well hidden as I approach the water’s edge at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and it’s not until I hear a startled “peep” or the more full-throated “burp” of a bullfrog as they leap back into the pond, that I realize they’re there.

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This elk seems to blend in well with it’s woody background. Here in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, the elk prefer to remain hidden among the trees during the hot summer weather. I can’t say I blame them.

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Another place that can get extremely hot during the summer months is The Badlands in South Dakota, where thousands of these prairie dogs scurry about, doing whatever prairie dogs do, until a warning call sends them running for the nearest burrow where they stay hidden until it’s safe to return to the surface.

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The art of staying hidden is an essential part of life for most creatures in the wild but every once in a while we are lucky enough to discover their hiding places, however, we should always respect their privacy and hopefully leave them as we found them.