A couple of weeks ago, before the swans returned, my husband and I were taking a walk around our campus, and saw an interesting bird on West Pond, the larger of our two ponds. It was a group of six black & white ducks (or they seemed to be ducks), smaller than mallards, and they were diving birds, unlike mallards. They would dive and not surface for several seconds, then one by one, they’d pop up again. They reminded me of loons in that way, but I knew they weren’t loons. And also they seemed to have choreographed moves: they would swim one direction and then, all together, they would switch and go the other way. We had never seen these ducks before. I went home and searched on the Internet and concluded that they were bufflehead ducks. We grabbed our cameras with telephoto lenses and headed back to the pond.
After downloading the photos, I could see that they were indeed bufflehead ducks, which have somewhat enlarged heads, black & white with fluorescent green around their neck (which we couldn’t see in the photos – the birds were too far away). I concluded they were all males. Someone told me that they are often seen on Lake Arlington, about a mile north of here. So I guess they just decided to drop in and check out our pond! The next day, they were gone.
The great thing about these two challenges this week is that these ducks are basically black & white, so there’s no color missing in their plumage in these monochrome photos!
Feb. 14: I love…Dale. Valentine’s Day is a special day for me, because it is my husband’s birthday! I married my valentine 25 years ago, and we’ve been together for almost 30 years total! For our 25th anniversary (last November) we had planned to take a round trip cruise from the Caribbean to the Amazon, but of course it was cancelled due to Covid. We will go in 2022 instead. Years ago, I bit Dale with my travel bug and now he loves it as much as I do!
He can be very sentimental at times, much more so than I. He loves joking with puns, but he has used some of them so many times that other family members have to tell him to stop! Dale is a former high school history teacher in the inner city of Chicago, and retired after 33 years. Since then, he’s had more time for his favorite pursuit – golf! In the winter – especially this pandemic winter – he gets bored!
Dale turned 77 yesterday, and a few unexpected health problems have arisen lately. Still, we hope to enjoy as many more years together as we can!
Feb. 15: I love…animals. I have already written about my love for cats, but we took a safari in Tanzania in 2018 that was the most unique and memorable trip of my life so far! During this pandemic, we are homebound, but we are lucky to live on a beautiful campus with two small lakes. Every spring and summer, I enjoy watching the swans, ducks, and other fowl that visit our lakes. I’ve also made friends with a couple of the dogs who I see on my walks (when the weather’s warm enough!).
Becky has a new Square challenge – square photos of something that contains the word UP!
With the turnover of midnight on January 1, a new year – and hopefully a better one – begins and I like to think that things are looking up! So here are my first contributions for this monthlong challenge, with the theme looking up!
Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not? It depends on what kind of surprise it is. If it’s a Christmas or birthday gift, yes, I like surprises. I like the surprise of my husband getting me flowers for Mother’s Day.
Some surprises are not fun, though…the 2016 election, for example, was a very nasty surprise – and more so because we were on an airplane during the election returns, and heard the news of Trump’s victory from a fellow passenger when we landed in São Paulo – it kind of put a damper on our vacation. Another “surprise” might be finding out that my mammogram showed a mass, or to test positive for Covid-19. Those kinds of surprises I DON’T like!
What’s your favorite zoo animal? This is a hard one for me…a few years ago I wrote a post about zoochosis, which is used to describe animals’ repetitive behaviors in captivity. For example, a leopard or a cheetah that repetitively paces the perimeter of its enclosure is suffering from zoochosis, meaning it is bored and frustrated with being cooped up. Zoos are much better these days about giving animals space and observing the animals for such behaviors, a sign that they are not healthy and intervention is needed.
In other words, my “favorite” zoo animal (animal in captivity) is difficult to name. After going on a safari in Tanzania in 2018, I resolved not to ever go to a zoo again. Of course, I’ve gotten over it and have been to zoos a few times since then.
I like the big animals, especially the big cats (or small wild cats), giraffes, and elephants. However, I prefer to see them in their native environment. Often when I’m at the zoo, these animals are asleep. When we went to the San Diego Zoo in 2017, I wanted to see the koalas, because the Chicago zoos don’t have koalas, or at least you can’t see them close up. At the San Diego Zoo, there’s a platform so you can see the koalas right in front of you while they are up in a eucalyptus tree – that is, in fact, where they spend most of their time. Seeing them close up was quite a treat! I also like to watch the monkeys – they don’t seem to be bothered with their artificial environment and it’s fun to observe their antics!
What three things do you think of the most each day? What I’m going to do that day, what I’m going to eat that day, and what the weather is like – i.e. can I go out for a walk or read sitting on the porch? (I have such a hard life – can’t you tell?? ;-D )
Because of Covid-19, we select what we want to eat from a weekly menu and it gets delivered to our house, so I have to look at what I wrote down that I’m having for dinner that day. Knowing what I chose for dinner that day helps me decide what to eat for lunch.
Some days I just want to spend a lot of time reading, while other days I prefer to work on a photo book on Shutterfly or blog. Sometimes I’m in the mood for watching something on TV. I think a lot about being organized and putting my scheduled activities in my calendar because I often forget something and plan something else for the same time.
4. When, if ever, is taking a human life justified? In self-defense (when one’s life or loved one’s life is threatened) – this may seem broad, because some people consider “threatened” to be when someone walks on their lawn or comes up to their house and rings the doorbell. I do not think it is justified in such circumstances. In the last several months, police brutality toward Black people has been in the forefront of people’s minds, because of the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, among others. These cops were not being threatened. They just abused their power and should be prosecuted.
Sometimes a person may feel threatened due to past circumstances, such as a woman whose husband has been abusive toward her or her children, and it is understandable (though not laudable) that she would seize an opportunity to kill him, even if he weren’t threatening her at that particular moment.
Also, it is somewhat justified to kill during wars, but not civilians and not even some wars which are completely unnecessary. World War II was a justified war with a clear enemy that invaded other nations’ sovereignty. During the Vietnam War, there were some incidents that the media brought our attention to, of massacres of civilians and burning their towns, such as the My Lai massacre. This is only one example of atrocities committed during wars, which are not justified under any circumstances.
If one considers abortion the “taking of a human life” – which is controversial – then I also think it is justified according to a woman’s particular circumstances, which range from being unable to raise the child or being afraid of losing her job, to extreme cases like rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger if the pregnancy continues. I am “pro-choice” because I think it is a private matter between a woman and her doctor, and I don’t presume to judge whatever situation she is going through. That said, I do not approve of abortion if the fetus is already viable – that is, can survive outside the womb, usually the late 2nd trimester or later, UNLESS it is a threat to the life of the mother. A fetus in the early stages of development does not feel anything yet so doesn’t suffer during the abortion. That said, really I don’t like abortion at all, at least not for myself. I could never have done it – I know I would have regretted it all my life if I had. When I got pregnant, I considered it as an option but my circumstances, while not ideal, were not dire, and I knew that I really wanted to have children. So I think it is a matter of choice.
Another controversial subject: the death penalty. I am totally against it. It is a barbaric custom that belongs to the past and I am ashamed that it is legal in my supposedly modern, civilized country.
Attitude of Gratitude Section (Always Optional)
Do small miracles exist? Yes, if one sees them as “miracles.” They are the unexpected joys that people feel blessed or grateful for. I like to watch nature shows on TV, and I find it miraculous how various species have adapted to their environment – like fish living in the deep ocean who can produce their own light. I feel awe toward the wonders of nature. We are so blessed to have this beautiful planet that provides us with such bounty. Let’s not ruin it!!!
The Bird Weekly photo challenge this week invites us to share the feathered friends that visit or live in our home space. We have a lot of birds on the campus of our senior community, but I am only including those who actually come into our yard – ducks, geese, and robins!
Although this particular Canada goose was not in our yard at the time I took this photo (I just really like this photo), we do often get visits from flocks of these guys who think they own the place!
Here are three photos I took in sequence of several ducks who hang out together – in the pond, taking a nap on shore, or taking walks in people’s yards! Over the summer, these ducks proliferated, and now that their young have grown, large groups of ducks are in abundance!