CFFC: The Ground We Travel

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge this week is: Ground: sand, dirt, paths, walks, trails, roads, etc.

Bridges, paths & walkways, desert and mountain terrains, and national parks – these are some of the places to find interesting “ground.” Sometimes there is an added bonus: a lizard, a flower, or a butterfly, or something ugly, like trash. This challenge is a way to showcase the photos I don’t usually publish in other posts!

Chicago Botanic Gardens: bridges, paths, and walkways

Cuba Marsh Wildlife Preserve (Illinois): walkways and grassland

The Middle East (Egypt and Israel): Desert landscapes, markets and farms

Mountain and Southwest (USA) terrain: ground above & below the tree line and rocks at Rocky Mountain National Park; trails and paths at Bryce Canyon National Park

CFFC: Bird Life on the Ponds

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of animals in nature.

Residents in the Moorings community have been concerned for some time about our female swan on West Pond. She has been sitting on her eggs for eight weeks at least and seems to be getting skinnier! In spite of her perseverance in incubating her eight eggs, she has shown some frustration of late, even pecking at the eggs to try to get them to hatch!

We took a walk just after noon today. It was a beautiful day with high temps in the 70s, so taking a walk at this time of day was delightful. We saw both of the swans leisurely swimming in the pond – the female’s eggs never hatched and were taken away last weekend in a bucket by personnel from the swan farm. So sad! Feeling carefree, the cob kicked his legs for momentum and then just let them drag behind him in the water – I’d never seen this behavior before! I didn’t get a photo of that, but I did get a close-up of him standing on the bank with his wide webbed feet! (I was able to get surprisingly close to him and the ducks, so these photos taken with my cellphone camera came out great!)

Surrounding him was a group of mallard ducks, mostly drakes, just chillin’ in the sunshine or taking naps. We saw one mama duck followed by eight ducklings, a family that I had not seen before. The ducklings were several weeks old, I guessed. They were too far away to get a good photo, since I had only my cellphone with me today.

These ducks and swans were on West Pond. As we passed East Pond, we were surprised to see a large number of Canada geese coming down the bank and into the water. Once they were in the water, they separated into family groups and we could see that several of them were goslings, who followed their respective parents. There were nine goslings altogether! I had not seen these families before; these goslings have already passed the “cute” stage! It was interesting that they were all together, instead of the adults threatening each other to stay away. Perhaps they’re all related!

The adults were wary of us, though!

Here are some mallard duck families that I photographed earlier this month, one with two half-grown offspring, the other with seven little ones. Ducklings don’t ever pass the “cute” stage!

The red-winged blackbird made all his noises at us, thinking he was threatening us as he flitted from tree to tree, following our movements.

Meanwhile, a mallard drake showed off for us – thank you, drake! You let me get a great photo of you!

Bird Weekly: Swans, Geese, Ducks and …?

Lisa Coleman’s Bird Weekly challenge this week is more than one species of bird in a photo.

Canada goose, mute swan, and mallard pair (Arlington Heights, IL – USA)

These are the most common species to see in our ponds. The swans and ducks are welcome, but the Canada geese are always “crashing” and they make a mess of our walkways!!

Heron, swan and ducks (Arlington Heights)

This gray heron is a daily visitor to our ponds. He wades in the tall grasses and looks for fish – a few days ago we saw him catching and eating a fish, but alas! We didn’t have our cameras with us!

Vultures and marabou stork (Tanzania)

These scavengers clean the bones from a kill that the hunter has already abandoned. We often saw a sort of scavenger hierarchy, waiting in line for their turn: hyena, jackal, vulture, stork – all eyeing the carcass as a lion made a meal of its kill.

Snowy Egret and Gray Heron (Aswan, Egypt)

We had few opportunities to photograph wildlife in Egypt – most of our days were spent at ancient Egyptian temples and ruins. But our last day in Aswan, we spent part of a morning on a leisurely boat ride to look for wildlife. Mostly we saw birds – this egret and heron, cormorants, and a few unidentified small birds.

CFFC: Males & Females

More comparisons this week for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge! This week it’s males vs females. But I am going to make it females (first) vs males (second)!

Lions – I’m not lyin’! (Ngorongoro, Tanzania)

Maasai people – in a village

French people with dogs by the sea in Normandy

Mallard ducks

Ancient Egyptians: Queen Nefertari and King Ramses II

Selfies: Amsterdam

Two people making funny faces & wearing glasses: father and daughter

Artwork by American artist Charles White: Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep (1956); Harvest Talk (1953)

Children laughing: Chicago Botanic Garden

L-APC: Spots and Dots

Spots and Dots is the creative topic for Leya’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.

flowers (2 orchids at Chicago Botanic Gardens, sunflower at Cantigny Park-Robert McCormick estate, Wheaton, Illinois)

animals (Tanzania)

art: sculpture (dalmations in Sao Paulo, Brazil; abstract sculpture in St. Charles, Illinois; giant pumpkin somewhere in Japan – this photo was a screenshot; Chinese lion at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illinois)

museum art (tapestry, light display)

Leda Catunda, Onca pintada No. 1, 1984, (at museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Exhibit at Museu do Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

public art

Lightscape light show installations for the holiday season, (Chicago Botanic Gardens, Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2020)

SYW: On Belief, Morality, and the Order of Nature

I always look forward to Mondays, when Melanie issues a new set of questions for Share Your World. Her questions this week are quite thought-provoking, so I’d better get started!

QUESTIONS

What do you believe but cannot prove?
The existence of God. God is seen differently by people; there may be almost as many ideas of God as there are believers. For me, God is within each individual and in nature. God is a force rather than an actual being. But I do believe in the power of prayer, so I guess sometimes I believe – when it’s convenient – that God does “listen” to prayers and perhaps helps things happen (or not). It is a comfort to me, at least, and it also is a comfort to others to know that people are praying on their behalf. In fact, there have been scientific studies of the power of prayer, and what was concluded is that knowing that a community of people who care about you bolsters your will to get better (or improve whatever the situation is). People are saying that they support you and are concerned about your suffering. It can actually motivate people to fight harder against a disease like cancer.

Do animals have morals?   Exclude human beings from the equation please. 
Why exclude humans? Are we any more moral than animals? Sometimes I think not!

Anyway, I don’t believe animals have morals, not really, although some do have compassion. Having morals requires one to be able to imagine different scenarios and outcomes, and to be able to judge others’ actions. I am not convinced animals can do that. However, there is much about animals – particularly the most intelligent ones – that we don’t know. Dolphins have been observed helping people in trouble. Elephants also help each other when one is in distress. Whales use a complex system of sounds to communicate with each other. I always marvel at the natural world, because animals have developed adaptations to all kinds of environments and situations. But I don’t think that they can imagine the future or alternate situations. Possibly chimpanzees or gorillas, but only in a limited capacity.

People often pose the question of what makes humans different from other animals. It is our brain’s capacity to reason, analyze, synthesize, and imagine. Unfortunately, these capacities do not necessarily lead to better behavior than an animal might display. We make choices, often the wrong ones, which affect not only our own lives, but also the lives of others, including animals.

Is there inherent order in nature or is it all chaos and chance?
I believe there is inherent order, but we do not understand it completely. Science is constantly revising its hypotheses about the universe/natural world, as new discoveries are made. There is an order, but we have yet to really know that order. I read an article recently about scientists at Fermilab discovering erratic behavior by the tiny particles called muons. They have observed the muons deviating from whatever it is they do, which can alter scientific theories about how the universe works. It’s amazing that this tiny particle, whose existence has only been known for a few decades, can influence so much of scientific theory that was believed to be based on solid evidence.

Where is your least favorite place in the world?
Somewhere that I’ve never been. Someplace cold and desolate. I probably will never visit places such as Antarctica or Greenland; I have heard that Antarctica, at least, is well worth a trip, and I would love to see the penguins. But I cannot imagine living through months of darkness and frigid cold day after day. Alaska is beautiful but I wouldn’t want to live there. So my “least favorite place” might be different depending on whether that place is my least favorite place to visit or least favorite place to live.

There is one place that I don’t think I would even want to visit – it’s the only place in the world that I can think of – and that is North Korea.


GRATITUDE SECTION (Participation Always Optional)

Feel free to share something about the seasons that makes you smile!

I am capable of smiling during any season, but I will focus on the current season of spring. I love flowers and they make me smile. Here is a poem I wrote several years ago about my garden, which is mostly about the flowers of spring.

HAIKU: THE GARDEN
4/26/14

Snow drops rise early
to cheer the winter weary:
delicate white orbs.

Crocuses give hope
when purple flowers appear –
spring will arrive soon.

Yellow daffodils
herald the coming of spring
with their bright trumpets.

Tulip leaves unfold,
hiding their buds until May
brings colorful blooms.

The lilac bush makes
fragrantly scented flowers
in lavender clusters.

The rose bush’s thorns
keep gardeners at bay for
red blossoms in June.

Aromatic herbs
spice up the gardener’s meals;
worthy of wild growth!

Gardeners’ reward
is the harvest of summer:
Beauty, fragrance, food.


Speaking of fragrance, lilacs are in bloom everywhere here! They are beautiful and smell heavenly!