Tag Archive | turtles

Whistling Ducks and Dancing Turtles

Hermann Park covers some 445 acres and is one of the oldest public parks in Houston.  It features an enormous reflecting pool, various gardens including a beautiful Japanese Garden, a recreational lake and a golf course. The park is also home to the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.



As always seems to be the case when we are on the road, our time in Houston was all too short, so we weren’t able to explore the entire park but we took in as much as we possibly could, given our tight schedule and the extreme heat which made walking any great distance rather a chore.  And I have to admit that I was on a mission. I was looking for a duck. And not just any old duck.

When our daughter and her husband first moved to Houston they sent us a blurred picture and a brief description of a rather unusual bird that they’d seen in Hermann Park. After some research we determined that what they’d probably come across was a whistling duck, which actually isn’t a duck at all, although it appears to be part of a subfamily that includes ducks, geese and swans. Not to be outdone and being a bit of a smart-arse, I sent them a picture, telling them that we had our own whistling ducks here in Chicago.

But this exchange of pleasantries got me thinking that if we ever visited Houston I would go in search of their whistling duck and see for myself what this bird was all about. And sure enough there, snoozing by McGovern Lake in Hermann Park, it was. It was apparently too weary to whistle but it afforded me the opportunity to get up fairly close, or as close as I was prepared to get to any bird, and capture some images. 

Having seen the whistling ducks we moved on to the Japanese Gardens where we saw some dancing turtles. At least, they appeared to be dancing.  With the temperatures at approximately 95 degrees in the shade, I imagine the rocks in the pool were getting pretty darned hot and the turtles, who were loath to give up their place in the sun, had to keep moving their feet or flippers or whatever they’re called, so as not to get scorched. These two seemed to coordinate their movements rather like dancing partners. They were soon joined by a third who wanted to get in on the act, while others watched from the bank, picking up tips on style and presentation, and another, who appeared to be the judge, got a closer view from a nearby vantage point.



Despite the heat, it was quite pleasant walking around the Japanese Gardens since much of it was in the shade. However, time and tide wait for no man and this visit, with its whistling ducks and dancing turtles, signaled our farewell to Houston as we would soon be on our way to San Antonio.


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Art and Autumn at the Arboretum

Just in time, we were able to catch the last few days of this year’s sculpture exhibition, Origami in the Garden, at the Morton Arboretum last month. These beautiful metal sculptures, created by Kevin and Jennifer Box, are modelled after the art of Origami or paper folding and the Arboretum was the perfect backdrop for this amazing artwork.

 

Not only did we get to enjoy the art but also some nice autumn scenery, even if the colors weren’t as vibrant this year.

In order to replicate the Origami creations, each sculpture goes through a 35-step, 12-week process of casting in bronze, aluminum or steel.

The turtles are real, but the raptor is another of Kevin Box’s clever creations.

This piece, entitled Double Happiness, shows a pair of nesting cranes which often appear in art as the symbol of companionship and happiness in marriage.

These intricately designed birds appear to be flying away from Meadow Lake.

The Ribbit Exhibit.

Every year in early spring I love to visit Morton Arboretum to see the gorgeous naturalized daffodils in bloom. This year, as an added bonus, there was an intriguing display of sculptures called The Ribbit Exhibit and since it featured one of my all-time favorite creatures, the frog, I couldn’t resist trying out my new camera and capturing a few images for the picture files.

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These whimsical statues are the work of artist J.A. Cobb and are made from sheets of copper. There are 23 of these delightful characters scattered about the gardens surrounding the visitor center and Meadow Lake.

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This adorable young lady is Sasha. Cobb draws each frog piece on a sheet of copper, then hammers and folds the sheets into shape. Sasha looks as though she’s patiently waiting for her dancing lesson to begin.

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Bentley and Tortuga the turtle in the Children’s Garden. A chemical patina gives the frogs that nice green color.

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Skully looks right at home in Meadow Lake.  There were  plenty of real frogs too, down by the water’s edge. Even the turtles were climbing over each other to check out the Ribbit Exhibit.

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It seems as though once you make eye contact with frogs they stay absolutely still.  I was sitting only a foot or so away from these guys.

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Emerson the caffeinated croaker taking a coffee break and soaking up the sun outside the visitor center. The Ribbit Exhibit is on display through September 25th so hop on over to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, and take a look.

Turtle Soup

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During a recent visit to the splendid Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I overheard someone asking one of the docents about turtles.

“Yes,” this helpful lady replied.  “Just go along the boardwalk that skirts the wetlands area and you’ll see them.”

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Not one to pass up the opportunity to photograph any kind of wildlife, I took her advice, albeit secondhand, and was well rewarded.  There were turtles aplenty!

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And, unlike the turtles that hang out at our local nature center, these accommodating creatures didn’t dive out of sight the minute we got anywhere near them.  They paddled around in their soupy surroundings, popping their heads out of the water to watch us as we crept along the boardwalk.

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Even the advent of some noisy young children clattering along the path didn’t seem to faze them.  They appeared quite unconcerned as I hung, camera in hand, over the top of the railing within a few feet of where they were sunning themselves.

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