Month of LoveLoveLove, #14-15

Continuing with things I love for Paula’s February Love challenge, here are my days 14 and 15.

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!

Imitating a stone statue behind us, in Scharding, Austria, 2019
A bite to eat after touring the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
We had a fantastic suite in our hotel in Amsterdam in 2018. Dale is checking Facebook, as usual!
Being the only Jewish person on a Christian trip to Israel in January 2019, Dale proudly posed in front of the Golden Menorah in Jerusalem.
We took pictures of other couples, and they took photos of us while waiting for the Sound and Light Show to start at the Abu Simbel temples in Egypt, Jan. 2019.

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!).

Bird Weekly: Long Legs

Lisa Coleman of Our Eyes Open‘s Bird Weekly photo challenge this week asks us to post long-legged birds.

Heron, Arlington Heights, IL, USA
White heron, Aswan, Egypt
Blacksmith plover, Arusha NP, Tanzania
Congregation of egrets, Tarangire NP, Tanzania
Marabou stork with carcass & vultures, Ndutu-Serengeti, Tanzania
A pair of ostriches, Serengeti NP, Tanzania
Flamingos at Amsterdam Zoo, the Netherlands

Bird Weekly: Yellow & Orange-Legged Birds

Lisa Coleman at Our Eyes Open has a photo challenge, Bird Weekly. This week’s topic is “birds with orange or yellow legs.”

Around here are lots of mallard ducks.

I couldn’t resist posting this one – the ducklings are so cute!

Sea gulls have yellow legs (and yellow beaks too!) like this one at Mont St.-Michel, France.

Tanzania is rich in bird species.

Stork – his legs look pinkish, perhaps light orange?
Kory bustard – again, hard to tell if they are pink or orange.
Weaver – very yellow!
I think this Egyptian heron has orangish legs – unlike the species we have here.
OK, this egret’s legs are black, but he’s got yellow FEET!! Very cool!

Bird Weekly: Birds in Black & White

Lisa Coleman has a new photo challenge called Bird Weekly. Each week is a different topic: this week it is Black & White or Sepia, and it is my first time participating.

Our main source of entertainment in the last several months at our senior community has been our resident birds. Two pairs of swans are brought to campus every March and are taken back in October. They are supposed to scare away the Canada geese – in this they have been a total failure!! We also have ducks, geese and a heron who drops in every day.

A lucky shot – the heron, one of the swans and a lot of ducks in the same photo!
This is one of several duck families here. I took this in early July and now these little ones are nearly grown!
I never knew until this year, when having plenty of opportunities to observe these birds, that they groom themselves so much!
I like this shot of the heron silhouetted in the setting sunlight reflected on the lake.
We had no cygnets this year – “Duchess” got up off her nest in a violent storm and her five eggs were blown into the lake! It was quite a tragedy here!
This cellphone shot isn’t too clear, but I was playing around with different effects on SnapSeed, and came up with this.

WWE: Birds on the Lake

I am forever trying to get good shots of our water bird population. Lately, I’ve gotten several good photos on “West Lake” here at our senior community, so I’m showing them off here on Jez’s Water Water Everywhere #35 challenge.

I unfortunately had only my cellphone camera to use for this shot – the heron has never let me get this close, and his silhouette against the reflected glow of the setting sun on the lake was a perfect setting.
Ducks in a circle
Sidney, West Lake’s male swan
One of our two duck families
Goslings & parents keeping cool on the wet pavement
“Our” heron (same one as in the first photo – he/she comes here every day) – fortunately, this time I had my regular camera and zoom lens!

2020 Sunday Stills Home Photo Challenge

After living in an increasingly crowded suburb for 30 years, last year Dale and I moved to Arlington Heights, where we live in a senior community with a large campus – lots of pretty flowers, landscaping, and a community garden area. We have two “lakes” (that’s what they’re called here but to me they are more like ponds) with a pair of swans on each lake. I take a walk around campus every day and there’s always something or someone to see. There’s plenty of other wildlife here too.

The pair of swans on West Lake (who lost their eggs in a storm just before they were about to hatch!)
There is a large group of mallard drakes on West Lake too – we call them the Bachelor Club! Every afternoon they take a siesta in the shade of a tree.
Although Canada geese can be a pain (they poop everywhere!), we have two permanent resident pairs (geese, like swans, mate for life) and this pair has three young’uns. The goslings are getting big now, but still haven’t lost their downy coats!
Every day in late afternoon, a heron comes, because I guess our ponds have fish! Usually he flies away before I can get anywhere near him, but yesterday, I was able to get pretty close. And now that I compare my photos, this is probably a different bird – he is quite a bit larger than the usual one!

2020 Home Photo Challenge

Sunday Stills: Happiest at Home

WWE #27: West Lake Tales

A lot of my photos lately (only with my cell phone, unfortunately – I don’t generally take my big camera on walks with me) have been taken at “West Lake” – which is more of a pond, but here at our senior community it is called a lake. In these pandemic times, the most active scene around here is at West Lake (and sometimes East Lake, which is even smaller), with a variety of water birds engaged in their daily activities, oblivious to pandemics, lockdowns, and social distancing.

If you watch long enough, or happen to be there at the right time, life dramas may unfold in front of your eyes.

About 10 days ago, staff members from our community “escorted” a duck family from a nearby school (where apparently the duck goes to nest every year, only this year, no one is there to provide food and water for her & her chicks) to our campus.  I wasn’t there to witness this, so I don’t know how many ducklings there were at the time, but by the time I saw them, there were merely two wee ducklings – and they were REALLY small! I took this photo of the little family and was surprised to see daddy duck still hanging around, which isn’t common for ducks. The tragedy is that, while I haven’t seen them lately, I’ve been told there is only ONE duckling now!
20200507_130524
There is actually what I call a “bachelor club” of drake mallards, about 7 or 8 of them, since the females are off nesting somewhere.  So perhaps we can look forward to seeing more duck families soon.

We also had two families of Canada geese – here is one of them. Note Sidney (“Duke” as he’s officially named), West Lake’s male swan, lurking nearby looking threatening.
20200509_130031
And here comes the drama – Sidney’s mate, Celina (“Duchess”) is currently sitting on her five eggs, which should hatch within a week from now, and Sidney is determined to claim the entire lake as their own.  Here he is chasing one of the geese out of the pond.
20200513_161950
Unfortunately, the above family met a tragic end – Sidney killed every one of their goslings! Another walker from our community told us she had seen him kill one of the babies. And we saw one of the bodies floating in the water…

Although Canada geese are a nuisance, I was glad to see that there is another family on campus, which wisely hangs around East Lake, where the swans (who are not nesting parents-to-be) leave them alone.

We often see one or another of two visitors to the lake – a heron and an egret.
20200509_130105
Dale and I had a discussion about whether the above was an egret or a heron. I thought it was too large to be an egret, but Dale said its color and black legs indicate it is an egret. It turns out we were both right – egrets are a type of heron, and this is evidently a member of the “Great White Egret” species.
20200513_154918
This is unmistakably a great blue heron, and it often visits our lakeshore.  We try to be very quiet to get close, but both the heron and the egret always fly away to the other side of the lake before we get very near.
20200515_150809
I suppose I will have to tough it out and lug my camera around with me, since the cygnets should be arriving very soon!

Photos by Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere challenge