Tag Archive | Spring Valley Nature Center

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Something Somber

I guess by now it has become pretty evident that I like to try and keep upbeat with the pictures that I post; sunshine and flowers and all that kind of thing. But today while I was walking along the path at Spring Valley I heard the church bell, not chiming the hour as I first thought, but keeping up a somber toll as if for a death and that gave me the idea for this week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge. Thanks to Tina at ‘Travels and Trifles’ I’m looking for Something Different  A somber view of nature (with the help of a little photo manipulation.)

A view of our local park after a heavy rainfall taken with my phone camera. The day was sunny but with a little assistance from Snapseed the results looked quite different from the original.

The remains of an old tree at Spring Valley looked quite cheerful in the original picture but after I superimposed a shot of the smoke and flames taken at last week’s burn, it took on a whole different look.

From fire to ice.  With a bit more photo manipulation, a koi fish trapped in a frozen pond.

And autumn leaves on a rotting log seem a little more forbidding with the color drained from them with a bit of photo processsing.

The frog is, as it was…..dead.  Just below the surface of a watery grave. Perhaps the victim of a cruel winter, pollution or maybe just old age.  The more somber side of nature and just a little different from the images I usually like to capture.

 

 

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Goodbye March – Hello April

One of the last things I did in March was to visit Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.  I stopped on the way to visit the elk in Elk Grove Village and while I was there, almost stumbled over a nest of garter snakes.

When I arrived at Spring Valley the sun was shining although it was rather chilly, and one of the first things I noticed was that it looked as though they had been burning off some of the old growth in the field.

The smell of burning was quite strong so I figured it must have happened recently and I wondered what the chances of spotting any wildlife in the area would be.  No worries! I got a nice close-up view of a water rat over by the pond.

And a little bit further along the bank I spotted this creature (not sure exactly what it was, and would welcome any suggestions.) It was very skittish and didn’t keep still for long so I was only able to get a quick shot.

Meanwhile, over at the farm, the horses and cows were enjoying the sunshine.

I was right about the controlled burning. As I was returning to the parking lot I spotted smoke rising from the far side of the trail and, hurrying in that direction, I managed to capture the last of the day’s work.

It’s rather scary to see how rapidly the fire spreads but with the experts on hand to keep things under control I felt quite safe and the fire quickly went from a raging inferno to a few wisps of smoke and some dying flames.

So with that, I said goodbye to March and today it’s Hello April. With not much sun and chilly temperatures in the forecast for the coming week I don’t anticipate doing much in the way of photography for the next few days.  But there are signs of hope in the garden.  Just a few colorful crocus shivering in a cold wind.  Come on April! Let’s see what you can do!

Thanks for choosing this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy!

Spiky Squares – At Spring Valley

This will probably be my last hurrah for the Spiky Squares Photo Challenge unless something unexpected presents itself before the end of the month. This has been a fun challenge and has certainly prompted me to look at things from a whole different perspective.  Thanks Becky!

Some spikey squares from Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. Hopefully I’ll be seeing more of the outdoors in the weeks to come, now that Spring is finally here.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Shadows

This week, Tina Schell at Travels and Trifles has chosen Shadows as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. There were surprisingly few of these in the photo files, or at least ones that I thought added anything to the overall picture. There were some, however, that I thought might just fit the bill. I selected the first shot, taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden, as I rather liked how the tree’s shadows led the way over the bridge as though reaching out to its counterpart on the other side.

Shadow symmetry by the McGinley Pavilion at The Chicago Botanic Garden.

Shadows standing out in the snow at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and on the path under a pergola at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

Biltmore Mansion casts a large shadow over the landscape in Asheville, North Carolina.

Hard To Believe

In view of all the dreary, grey days that we’ve experienced recently, it’s sometimes hard to believe that the sun has actually put in an appearance from time to time.  One such occurrence presented itself last week and I took advantage of the opportunity to go for a walk around Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.

The one slippery spot that I came across during this trek was the observation deck that overlooks the pond, but luckily I had hold of the railings otherwise I might have had difficulty obeying the sign.


The Volkening Heritage Farm area is closed until March1st (unless you call ahead to gain admittance) but, leaning over the gate that blocks off the path, I got a good view of the horses enjoying some welcome sunshine outside the barn.

 

There were quite a few people at the Center, parents with their children, photographers, nature lovers and walkers, all making the most of the relatively fine weather, as the footprints on the paths and trails attested. We were all smiling, clearly pleased with the way the day was going and obviously hoping that the sun would continue to shine down on us, at least for another hour or two.


The sun stayed out at least long enough for us to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  Now we are back to cloudy skies and the threat of snow later on today, but looking on the bright side, this may present us with more photo opportunities.


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?

Frog Soup

The color for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is lime or light green and since I was hoping for an opportunity to share the following pictures this seemed like the ideal time, even though they may not strictly be considered that exact shade.


On a still and steamy day at the tail end of August, the turbid waters of the pond at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg resembled nothing so much as frog soup. Everywhere you looked there were hundreds of these curious little creatures, peering out of the water or perching on lily pads.


There has always been a special place in my affections for these little guys. They have kept me company during many peaceful moments at the water’s edge in various nature centers, gardens and parks. There’s something very companionable about spending time with a frog, both of us sitting there thinking our own thoughts.


“What is this woman doing???  She’s been sitting here for ages, just watching! I don’t think she’s a threat but every once in a while that shiny thing she’s holding gives off a flash of light that, I have to say, is a bit disconcerting. Any of you chaps know who she is?  No, well just ignore her. Perhaps she’ll go away.”

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Lime or Light Green.