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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Crops & Clips: October 2012 Meme Mashup

This month's potpourri gathered from the archives features the themes of critters, fences, skies, macros and reflections. It is a retrospective view of photos taken three years ago, in October, 2012. At the time I did not seek to portray each of these memes, so it is a bit of a scavenger hunt. Let's see how far I need to go into the month to find at least one of each. If I can get them all I will have won the game ten months in a row since starting in January, 2015. This month's flashback once again produced the required set of images, but not until the 23rd of the month.

As usual there were plenty of photos of CRITTERS--

My first photo foray into our neighborhood Florida wetlands yielded on October 3, 2012, a nice portrait of a Prairie Warbler:

Prairie Warbler 4-20121003

Two mornings later we encountered an adult Bobcat, sitting in the middle of the gravel road that accesses the wetlands:

Bobcat close HDR 20121005

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler on October 10:

 Black-throated Blue Warbler male 3-20121009

Fall migration generally provides a greater abundance of colorful warblers than in spring, and 2012 was no exception. This is a Northern Parula, photographed on October 14...

 Northern Parula 20121014

...a Yellow-throated Warbler on October 22:

Yellow-throated Warbler 20121022

Halloween Pennant dragonflies, as seen in this MACRO were numerous:

 Halloween Pennants 20121006

We "reverse migrated" to NE Illinois at the end of October to celebrate a Halloween party and pig roast in honor of our son-in-law's milestone birthday. Rudely thrust into winter-like weather, I did photograph some species for the first time, such as this Purple Finch, on October 25...

Purple Finch male 20121025

...and a Lapland Longspur on the last day of the month:

Lapland Longspur 20121031

I would be remiss if I did not include just  a couple of more "party critters," yours truly, in costume...

 Batguy 20121027

...and unmasked...

Batguy unmasked 20121027

...and Cleopatra (Mary Lou)...

Cleo 20121027

 flanked by our granddaughters Cinderella (Cari)...

Cinderella 20121027

...and the Queen of Hearts (Graci):

Queen of Hearts 20121027

My search for REFLECTIONS and SKY photos was productive of many images, such as this Sunrise on October 7 from the back patio of our home:

Sunrise HDR 20121007

Paradoxically, this early morning shot on October 8, looking to the southwest over the wetlands seems to portray the sunrise, but the apparently diverging rays are not from the rising sun but rather from the opposite direction (behind my LEFT shoulder)! The rays of the sun filters over the tops of the thunderheads and paints long parallel pink streaks. Perspective gives them the appearance of diverging from the west, but they actually are converging towards the vanishing point. Almost every summer, tropical winds carry dust particles 5,800 miles across the ocean from northern Africa. The dust is able to cross that distance because it travels in its own air layer — the Saharan Air Layer.

 Abandoned Utility Easement HDR 20121008

I captured another "mirrored sunrise" on October 20, this time directly opposite the rising sun (notice how the clouds are illuminated from the near side rather than from behind):

Harbour Lake Mirrored Sunrise in the west 20121020

Saharan dust produced the pink sky that enhanced this view of a Great Egret, on October 26:

 Great Egret before sunrise Corel 20121016

At first I thought my search for a photo of a fence in the October 2012 archives was in vain, until I looked closely at this photo of a gathering thunderhead. I was rushing home to beat the storm. It looks back to the gate to the gravel road that leads out of the wetlands. A vehicle is parked just outside the fence, but you must click on the photo to enlarge it:

Thunderbumpers HDR 20121018

Fearing that Tex would ban me from her meme for posting the above, I carefully re-reviewed the month's photos and discovered that I had overlooked this October 23 image of a family of Wood Storks gathered on a neighbor's back yard FENCE:

Wood Storks 2-20121023

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


Thursday, September 24, 2015

The price of progress: Vanishing yard birds

During the eight years we have occupied our second home in NE Illinois, urbanization has finally caught up with us.Today I am sharing some bittersweet memories of the humble dooryard prairie that once surrounded us, now extinct.

This is the view from the  front steps of our NE Illinois condominium on March 20, 2010. The slowing economy had stalled completion of the 144 town-home living units that were to occupy the entirety of the three block area around our building. My comments at the time are italicized:

Snow on the first day of Spring! The Horned Larks have just started nesting in this field.

View frim Condo MAR 20 2010

August 20, 2010

Development has been stalled due to the poor housing market, allowing the disturbed land around our condo to return to grass. (The patch of taller grass and shrubs conceals the small pond which contained water much of the year)

Our Front Yard 20100820

  May 8, 2011:

Taken through window pane. I happened to look out the upstairs bedroom window of our condo in North Aurora (Illinois) and saw the white head of a "Blue" morph Snow Goose among the 9 Canada Geese that were foraging in and around a fluddle in the undeveloped lot in front of our home. The Snow Goose tended to associate with one of the Canada geese, and the two spent much of their time apart from the rest of the flock... The far northern edge of the breeding range of Canada geese overlaps with that of the Snow Goose. The latter species is known for "dumping" its eggs in neighboring nests. Is it possible that this Canada Goose raised this particular bird? 

Canada and Snow Goose in front yard 20110508

That same day, Canada Geese swam in the small pond in the open space:

 Canada Geese in front yard 20110508

May 22, 2011:

All this week Spotted Sandpipers have been singing in the vacant lot in front of our Illinois condo. Yesterday I saw one atop a pile of rubble near the edge of our street, so I stopped there this morning, using the car as a blind, hoping to photograph them from only about 20 feet... After about 10 minutes a Spotted Sandpiper began moving between rock piles and suddenly was right in front of me. 
 Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) 20110522

August 3, 2011:

This afternoon, the three Sandhill Cranes that we saw here yesterday returned to the disturbed block surrounding our Illinois condo. Since the builder went bankrupt, this area has gone back to grass and weeds. There is one fairly constant pond in the center, and other "fluddles" that appear and may persist for several weeks when it rains.

Sandhill Cranes 4-20110803

August 21, 2011:

A new yard bird, I saw this Solitary Sandpiper in the vacant lots in front of our Illinois condo this morning, just after driving out on the way to Nelson Lake. It was in a puddle caused by the heavy rainstorm yesterday. Returning home, we found these two of the same species in another puddle right outside our front door...

 Solitary Sandpipers 20110821

June 29, 2012:

Views of the shelf clouds that preceded the severe thunderstorms on June 29, 2012, North Aurora, Illinois. The spaces between the cloud layers created white ribbons that stretched 180 degrees across the sky from north to south. Taken from the front door of our condo.  (Sadly, we are now hemmed in by 2-story buildings and no longer have a view of the horizon)

 Cloud South End HDR 20120629

This is the opposite (north) end of that same cloud, which extended between  both horizons:

Cloud North End HDR 20120629

April 21, 2013:

View from our front door steps. Change is inevitable, from the destruction of my quiet "Fake Hammock," (in Florida, as it appeared in 2011 and as seen in 2013) now in full sunlight overgrown with grasses, to the clearing of the prairie in front of our Illinois condo...

Front yard no longer a birding patch 20130422

May 16, 2013:

This unit, one of 29 new buildings under construction, occupies the open space in front of our condo (taken from our upstairs bedroom window).

Illinois front yard 20130516

September 13, 2015:

The latest view from our front steps. Construction of the entire 3 city block development has been completed. Although the prairie which surrounded our condo has been completely developed and landscaped, a flock of Canada Geese and three Sandhill Cranes (barely visible in center of this photo at the distant end of the groomed "park" area) still find reason to rest and forage here.

North Aurora backyard HDR 20150913

My telephoto lens provides a closer look at those Sandhill Cranes, a family unit, which will normally remain together through the fall migration. They usually lay two eggs, but in most cases only one (or neither) hatchling survives. The adults have bright red foreheads, lacking in the juvenile bird ("colt") to the left in this photo. The adults' plumage is stained brown by the minerals in the mud they use in preening, while that of the colt is mostly clean gray. It has been playfully chasing any Canada Goose which ventures close by.

Sandhill Crane family 2-20150913

Sandhill Crane colt chases goose 20150913

Sandhill Crane colt chases goose 3-20150913

Presently there is a patch of relatively undisturbed open space only a few blocks away, at Jones Meadow Park. Here is a fence along the boundary of this small park, showing signs of age and weathering. It  has provided perches for some memorable avian subjects,...

 Jones Meadow fence HDR 20150918

...among them, this Chipping Sparrow, when the posts were new, back in May of 2009:

 Chipping Sparrow 20090510

Brilliant red Cardinal Flowers, such as these next to a pond in nearby Lippold Park,  are indeed shaped like birds. Their stamens look like heads with beaks, and each has two narrow wing-like sepals and a three-lobed sepal serves as a tail. One of the few truly bright red wildflowers, they add a splash of color to the fall landscape in wet areas, and attract migrating hummingbirds. To my eye, these flowers appear to be  dancing gracefully in a circle:

Cardinal Flowers dancing 20150915

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display