This week, the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is big, really big! Not only big but beautiful too, as Tina’s wonderful images show, here at BIG Can Be Beautiful Too!. It’s a strange thing but despite my life-long fear of birds, I’ve discovered over the years that I am far less afraid of large birds than I am smaller ones. This enabled me to get surprisingly close to a pair of sandhill cranes in Wausau, Wisconsin recently. They didn’t seem to be afraid of me either so things worked out very nicely.
This week, Cee is looking for birds for her Black & White Photo Challenge. We saw plenty of birds while we were in Texas! In fact, while we were in San Antonio, one of the biggest challenges for me was visiting the Riverwalk which was lined with birds. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know about my life-long fear of birds and the problems that I have, dealing with them in everyday situations. After the first few minutes of dodging pigeons along the pathway I was almost tempted to give it up and return to street level but with the help of my husband, who walked ahead of me, as a kind of anti-bird bodyguard, I managed to stay the course for quite a distance and I was glad that I did. There is so much to love about the Riverwalk!
However, it’s not all fun and games on the river. This young bird (heron?) was standing alone on the banks of the Riverwalk. He was quite unconcerned that we were so close. I guess he must have become used to people walking by and the boats packed with tourists going up and down the river. I’m no bird expert so I couldn’t really tell how old he was but I hoped that he was capable of taking care of himself as, when we walked back on the other side of the river, we spotted an adult heron floating dead in the water just opposite to where he was standing.
For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Birds
Those of you who follow my posts regularly are aware that it’s highly unlikely that I will knowingly or willingly go inside anywhere where birds are flying about. I had a suspicion that there might be birds in The Domes at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park but we had made the trip specifically to visit there and thankfully the domes are so huge that, after poking my head round the door to make sure it was safe, it became apparent that any winged inhabitants were, at least for the time being, staying well out of the way.
That’s not to say that I wasn’t very much aware that there were birds nearby. I could hear them. But there was just so much to see and photograph in The Desert Dome that after a while I became a lot less nervous.
The Desert Dome was the last of three conservatories to be completed at Mitchell Park and was opened to the public in 1967. Cacti and succulents from Madagascar, South America, Africa, Mexico and the American Southwest are featured in appropriate settings and the variety of plants in this dome is simply astounding.
Despite keeping a wary eye open for any birds that might be about, there were thankfully no close encounters. Does that mean that I would cheerfully enter an enclosed space where there are birds flying free in the future. It’s extremely unlikely, but never say never.
For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Unlikely
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.
I really had to go out on a limb for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Keeping to my chosen theme, animals, bugs and birds, I struggled to find anything in the photo files that started with the letters I or J especially the letter I, so I hope you will pardon me if I have jumped to any conclusions in identifying the following. Hopefully, anyone more knowledgeable about bird and animal species can correct me.
Could this be a glossy ibis? I captured the image many years ago in an avian sanctuary at Cypress Gardens in Florida. Unfortunately the b/w treatment has taken away all distinguishing colors but the original picture shows that the bird was grey with an iridescent sheen to the feathers. There was also a red strip on the upper part of the bill. If you have followed my blog for any amount of time you will be wondering why I was in a cage full of birds. Despite my life-long fear of our feathered friends, the opportunity to get some close-up shots of so many beautiful creatures prompted me, in a moment of insanity, to plunge in, so to speak. My husband accompanied me (someone had to be there to carry me out if I fainted!) and we crept around trying not to disturb the inhabitants. I was terrified!!! I only managed to take a few shots before my courage completely deserted me and had to be led out with my eyes shut.
The animals pictured above are, I’m fairly sure, Siberian ibex. This was a shot that I took on slide film many, many years ago at Brookfield Zoo when they had a high, rocky enclosure know as Ibex Island. It was demolished in 2008 to make room for the new bear exhibit. I don’t know what happened to the ibex.
Jellyfish, pictured at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
A junco and blue jay in our garden. These shots were taken with a long lens from the safety of our living-room window.
For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/30/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-i-or-j/
A mourning dove outside our kitchen window
First a quick note about the new format here on The Nature of Things. In response to a couple of comments about the indistinct text on the previous format, I’ve changed to this new one which I hope is a little clearer.
A goldfinch at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Ailsa’s Travel Theme challenge this week on Where’s My Backpack? at http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/12/27/travel-theme-birds/ is Birds.
A lucky capture in Florida.
Despite suffering from ornithophobia almost my entire life, I have a considerable interest in birds and love to take pictures of them whenever I can. This usually involves using long lenses, very often behind the safety of a window, and sometimes, if I’m outside, having someone with me to frighten them off if they get too close.
In our garden
One year I planted a particular type of Brazilian Sage in our garden in order to attract hummingbirds and had so many of them arrive that summer that I was almost a prisoner in my own home because I was too afraid to have them buzzing around my head while I was outside.
A purple finch in our garden
The other day I went to the local hardware store to purchase bird seed for the feeders and couldn’t get anywhere near the bags because some sparrows had found their way into the shop and were all over it! How bad is that!
A cedar waxwing in Florida
I think it’s the fluttering that scares me. I’m not so bad with larger birds such as swans or ducks or even crows which I find very interesting to watch, but smaller varieties in close proximity usually have me screaming and running for shelter. One of the biggest drawbacks to going downtown, for me, is having to run the blockade of pigeons that habitually march up and down the sidewalks. They have no fear and I’m not the only pedestrian to be seen ducking and dodging these feathered pests.
A heron in the pool at River Trails Nature Center
I’m quite proud of myself if I manage to take a reasonably clear picture of a bird outside in the open. It means that I’ve been able to hold the camera without shaking too much and have been able to stay close enough to the subject without shrieking and running away.
A rooster sees me off the premises in Wisconsin
I tried to conquer this fear when I was growing up, braving the terrors of a holiday farm hen-house, only to have a chicken rise up squawking into my face as I reached for some brown, speckled eggs and setting my rehabilitation back to exactly where it was some 10 years previously. I doubt I will ever lose this fear now; it seems to get worse as I get older and is very inconvenient but so long as I have a camera with a long lens and a window to hide behind, I’ll keep taking pictures.