Tag Archive | winter

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Elk of Elk Grove Village

Continuing with the ‘alphabet with a twist’ theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, this week’s topic is the letter k.  If a word has only three letters and one of them is a k, there’s a pretty good chance that the word might be elk.  And what better place to find elk than in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. These majestic creatures are not native to the area but, because of the name association, a small herd of elk are kept in a protected part of Busse Woods Forest Preserve. They are cared for by the Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff and Busse Woods Forest Preserve wildlife experts.

The original herd of 10 elk was brought in by train from Yellowstone National Park in Montana in 1925 by local resident William Busse.  The best time to see them is either early morning or at dusk.  They spend a lot of time amongst the trees but when they do come out into the open field they’re a beautiful sight.

I should add that these images were captured a few years ago.  For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter K – Needs to have the letter K anywhere in the word



Winter in the Greenhouse

We had, initially, been disappointed upon our arrival at the Chicago Botanic Garden to find that only one section of the greenhouse was open to the public.  I’d forgotten about preparations for the upcoming Orchid Festival in February.  Apparently we were the only ones that weren’t aware of this since we were on our own, wandering around among the cacti.  This turned out to be a good thing as it’s usually quite busy in there during the winter months and, not having to feel obliged to move along and make room for other people, I was able to take my time and capture plenty of images.  Having driven all the way to the Garden I wasn’t about to go home empty-handed (photographically speaking.)



If you follow my blog on a regular basis you will know that I don’t spend too much time reading labels and notices when I’m taking pictures so I can’t tell you what most of these plants are called, other than to say there were a lot of spiky things and succulent things.





There were a lot of lovely flowers too, that helped to brighten an extremely gloomy day, although I really shouldn’t complain about the weather as it’s been an exceptionally mild winter here in the Chicago area so far.





Please join me for another walk around the greenhouse in winter in a future post and thanks for stopping by.

Winter Kill

The hawk has been hanging around here for the past few weeks, making daily passes over the garden and scaring the other birds out of their wits. Today he finally caught something.

Winter kill.JPG

Just as he was picking over the bones, a rabbit inadvertently hopped up behind him. The rabbit took one look at what was happening, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and shot off. The hawk spotted it and gave chase. Despite being my arch enemy where the garden is concerned,  I’m hoping the rabbit got away





It never ceases to amaze me how our local wildlife is able to survive the brutal weather conditions that we have experienced this winter. With several feet of snow and temperatures in the teens and well below for much of the time, they have managed to find a way to stay alive.


When I see those fragile little creatures going about their daily lives, searching for food and water, struggling against what seem to be insurmountable odds, I feel ashamed of myself, cowering behind the window in a heated room, complaining about having to hop into the car and drive down to the store in the snow to pick up our weekly grocery purchases.


I know there is something about their physical make-up that allows them to withstand the sub-zero temperatures and blizzard-like conditions; fur, feathers and all that, but even so, I can’t help feeling there’s more to it than that.


There’s got to be a certain amount of ingenuity involved and what better master of his craft than the squirrel. When it comes to figuring things out he’s a genius. You can almost see the wheels in his little brain spinning round has he formulates his plan to make the most of every opportunity.



He has worked out that, rather than trying to find a way into the bird feeder to get at the seed, it’s easier to just rip the bottom off the thing and have the contents pour out all over the ground.

I can imagine the others egging him on, the mice and birds cheering as he shinned up the pole and flung himself at the tube, hanging upside down while scrabbling to remove the last obstacle to a successful raid accompanied by the ecstatic cries of “Alright!!!” from an enthusiastic audience of finches, juncos and cardinals.







Spring Valley in Winter


A couple of weeks ago, rather in the spirit of  ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’, I decided to take a walk around Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.  It was the first time I’d been there since the beginning of this endless winter and, despite the fact that the temperatures were well below freezing, I quite enjoyed it.


Apart from the man with the snow plow, who had thankfully cleared a path on the roadway around the perimeter of the place, I seemed to be the only person there.  There were no signs of wildlife either.  Evidently I was the only one brave or stupid enough to ignore the dangerous wind chill warnings but I just couldn’t stand being cooped up inside any longer.


Despite the fact that there was little or no action on the wildlife front, there was still some beautiful scenery and, despite mittens and enough layers of clothing to make me look like that kid from A Christmas Story, I was able to get a few shots of the surrounding landscape.


The silence, despite being so close to nearby houses and main road, was uncanny. Even the airplanes flying in and out of O’Hare airport were too high in the clear, blue sky to make anything but the faintest sound (or perhaps it was because of the balaclava and two hoods that I was wearing that I failed to hear them.)


Even though it had been two or three days since the latest snowfall, the snow clung tenaciously to the tree branches, frozen in place, not yet dislodged by the winds that would follow later in the afternoon.


Understandably, the usual trails and paths had been left untouched but here and there were signs that someone or something had braved the deep snow, not letting it deter them from traveling along their usual route.  There was a time when I would have thought nothing of following in their footsteps or even blazing my own trail but now, as I stumble somewhat cautiously into the ‘golden years’ I’d rather be safe than sorry and stick to the safest options.


Even so, the road was somewhat slippery in spots and I took heed of the signs that appeared occasionally along the wayside, warning pedestrians of dangerous conditions. Slow and easy does it in situations like these.  Because the path that goes over the bridge that spans the creek was several feet deep in snow, I kept to the plowed road that fords the water a little further along.  Naturally the creek, which is never all that deep, was frozen solid and I made my way very carefully across to the other side without incident. (Visions of a bad fall that I had taken a few years before in an icy parking lot always make me wary.)


But all’s well that ends well and I made it right the way to the farm and back without incident.  The man who was plowing the road passed me a couple of times on my walk and we waved to each other. I hope he realized that I certainly appreciated his efforts because without them I would never have made it around the center.


As Winter Approaches

It seemed that Autumn had only just arrived when already we were thinking about the approach of Winter. We saw our first snow of the season yesterday. Thankfully only a few flakes and certainly not enough to settle but it reminds us that winter will soon be upon us.


The thick frost that we had for the last two nights finished off the dahlias but luckily I took some pictures the other day to remind me of the beautiful show that the Spartacus variety put on this year.


The mums still have some life left in them since they are in a sheltered spot.


While I was walking around the garden I found this nest that had evidently been blown out of the tree during a recent storm. The eggs were still in it although I think they had already hatched. I decided to leave it on the parkway as several children go past this way to school and I thought they might like to take it for the class nature table but no-one seemed interested. Years ago such a treasure would have been snapped up in an instant but I guess that’s just a sign of the times.


Towards the end of summer this autumn clematis ran rampant through the back garden, engulfing two chairs, a bird feeder, an archway that buckled under the weight and much of a large cranberry viburnum bush. I think I will have to take it in hand once all the foliage dies off.