Tag Archive | nature

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical

Well, here at least is one piece of good timing.  I was about to post this and then saw Ann-Christine’s choice of subject for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge which is Magical. So this is my take on that topic.   I’ve lost count of the number of swallowtail butterflies that we’ve raised and released over the years but in all that time I’ve never yet found a monarch caterpillar until now. I spotted it a week or so ago on the orange butterfly weed in our garden and brought it inside so that I could observe the changes from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, a process that is truly magical.

The other evening it looked as though it was about ready to make the first change and I sat and watched it for several hours but nothing happened. I got up early (for me) next morning and it was still hanging from the same stem, going through what looked like a few mild calisthenics and gyrations, sending little ripples of movement along the length of its body.

Again, I sat for several hours with camera at the ready as I wanted to record the moments when he finally shrugged and wriggled his way out of his brightly-striped skin. But I had to get up and move around eventually, and I thought I would just nip into the next room to check my emails. I swear I was gone for no more than ten minutes! And when I came hurrying back it was to find that the little stinker had done his magic and as I gazed at the chrysalis that now hung from the stem, I thought I could hear a faint raspberry being blown and a whispered, “Missed it! coming from inside.  Unbelievable!!

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Lego At The Zoo

Having spent countless hours with the grandchildren, over the years, trying to make anything remotely recognizable out of Lego, I can appreciate how much work went into creating the more than 40 life-size creatures that featured in Brookfield Zoo’s Brick Safari this summer.

Do these creations qualify as sculptures? I’m not sure, but they are certainly works of art.

The resulting photos have the rather weird effect of looking over-pixelated ( if that’s the correct term.)

One of my favorites was Lance the Leopard who required 42,500 bricks and 340 hours to complete.

It took 375 hours and 110,000 bricks to make Grace the Giraffe who weighs in at 1,652 pounds.  That’s a lot of Lego!

The rhinoceros took 155,000 bricks and 403 hours to complete, while Eli the Elk took a mere 87,464 bricks. 

The grizzly bears were quite impressive, taking 136,569 bricks and 382 hours to build.  They looked quite at home in this woodland setting.

I’m not sure who worked on these amazing pieces but all I can say is, “Well done!”

 

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.

Brookfield Bears

Next to the great apes, I think bears are probably my next most favorite animal to watch at the zoo. On this particular day, Hudson the Polar bear was taking a dip in the pool. And what better way to dry off afterwards than a luxurious roll in the grass.

Meanwhile, over in the next enclosure, a grizzly bear was homing in on some lettuce that had been thrown over the wall, while another was diving for carrots in the pool. I was impressed by it’s swimming skills, rather like an underwater ballet, and the ability to hold its breath for quite long periods of time while foraging for these tasty snacks.  To conclude, just let me say, “Go Bears!” both Brookfield and Chicago.

 

Cats

From meerkats to cats. Big cats! Zoo animals are very much creatures of habit, doing more or less the same thing at the same time every day, so I knew exactly where to find the snow leopard. He was taking a snooze on the ledge right by the viewing window.

Both the lions and tiger were also taking their morning siesta. They can sleep like this for hours so I decided to walk around for a while and come back later in the hopes that they might actually be moving around.

This plan paid off, at least as far as the tiger was concerned. He was on the prowl having taken a dip in the pool (something that I just missed) and appeared to be looking for something. He padded around the enclosure a few times and settled down to chew on some grass.  Eventually, feeling that he’d fulfilled his obligation to entertain the customers, he returned to his ledge and went back to sleep.

 

 

Meerkats

Last Thursday I spent five hours capturing images at Brookfield Zoo so be prepared to be bombarded with animal pictures.  I thought I’d devote each post to one particular species or group of animals and I’m starting out with meerkats. They all looked happy and healthy on a zoo diet of cat food, dry dog food, vegetables, bugs, fish and mice, and were, as always seems to be the case, in a very playful mood.

Taking pictures without flash in low light without a tripod was a bit of a struggle but, thanks to the digital camera, I got off so many shots that there were bound to be one or two that were usable. I couldn’t have done that with the old film camera when I could only afford a few rolls of film and then pay to get them developed.

I love meerkats! They play to the camera so nicely. There were two that appeared to be enjoying a game of hide and seek. First one, then both would curl up in a ball and then look out to see if anyone was watching.

It seemed like such a good wheeze that another pair joined them until eventually the whole clan was involved.

A Summer Walk

Last week I decided to take advantage of some slightly cooler weather to take a summer walk at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.  Ever since they built the beautiful new children’s play area here the place is always busy and it’s good to see that parents are also walking further afield in order to introduce their families to the fascinating world of nature. And Spring Valley is just the place to do it.

As well as seeing all the flowers that are still blooming among the grasses on the prairie, I was interested to see this growth spiraling around the stems of some of the larger plants. I have no idea what it is even though I tried Googling it later with no success. If anyone has any suggestions I’d be glad to hear from you.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before.

Meanwhile, over at the pond,  waterlily pads cover the surface of the water and the frogs take advantage of these comfy seats while a family of ducks look on from a slightly less comfy place on the shore.

Also at the water’s edge are signs that a beaver has been at work, and when I say signs I mean literally as there is a notice nearby pointing out that beaver have been spotted at the lake.

I sit for a while along the woodland trail and watch chipmunks scurrying about finding food, and then, walking back down the path towards the parking lot, I see reminders that it won’t be too long before autumn is upon us once more.