CHICAGO WEEKEND BLITZ – DAY 2

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July 2016

Day 2 in Chicago and what better way to start the day but to have found  Nimo!!!  If anyone wants  to see him in person, or in fish, he lives at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

The Aquarium was first on our agenda for the day.  Many verbs  are needed to describe  all of the creatures that live there.  We……

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Enjoyed  the “pretty fish”.

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In Awe of these blue fish as they swam around with it’s fluttering  fins.

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Entertained by the Garden Eels that live in the ocean sandbanks.

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Amazed by these colorful creatures, whatever they may be…

Anemones, maybe????

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Terrified by these moray eels.  The  moray’s rear-hooked teeth and  strong bite mechanism causes severe bites  on humans, as the eel cannot release its grip, even in death, and must be manually pried off.  Yicks!!!!

There were gross creatures  also, but they were not  photogenic.

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Outside the Aquarium were several Red Winged Blackbirds in the surrounding  bushes.  Warnings  were also posted that these birds were nesting and not welcoming to noisy humans.

I tried to keep my distance but could not resist his  Dracula  pose.

water taxi

A Water Taxi was the  cheapest  and quickest way to get a boat ride with  Navy Pier as the  logical destination.

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navy pier

Navy Pier, which originally opened in 1916,  has shops and entertainment to explore and more- than- you- can- imagine  unhealthy food  and drink choices to enjoy as you sit by the water watching the people,  the boats and the beautiful day .

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As we headed back to the hotel,  2 more  birds-of-the-day were easy  spotted.

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Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed  Chicago !!

 

“I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”   (Susan Sontag)

CHICAGO WEEKEND BLITZ – DAY 1

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July 2016

Chicago – a wonderful mix of the new  with the old.

Recently my good friend, Donna, and I took a last minute weekend  trip to Chicago, determined to see as many  of the sights as we could.  We had a super time while logging in  A LOT  of  steps into my FitBit.

Donna and friends

First off, let me tell you, there are CROWDS  of people everywhere in Chicago, but we tried to fit in as much as we could.   That city  also  has….

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Dinosaurs !!!

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Walking to our 1st destination, we stopped to see Buckingham  Fountain in Grant Park .  Dedicated in 1927,  the fountain was  made with Georgian  pink marble and contains 1,500,00 gallons of water.  During a display,  more than 14000 gallons per minute, are being pushed through  193 jets.

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Two Sisters, by  Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1881

Our  1st official stop was  founded  in 1879 and is one of the oldest and largest in the US – the Chicago  Art Institute.  There were endless  works of art  I fell in love with, but  here are just a few favorites:

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Paris Street, Rainy Day,  by Gustave Gaillebotte, 1876

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Bust of Queen Luise of Prussia , by Johann Gottfield Schadow, 1819

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Art in all forms can be enjoyed at the Art Institute.

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As we strolled and navigated the streets, we  also saw many  beautiful old buildings…

old and new blgd

…..tucked in amongst the sky scrapers.

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The Old Water Tower, 1869, is a memorial  to the great Chicago Fire in 1871.  That fire burned for 2 days destroying more than 2000 acres, killing  300 people and made 100,00 people homeless.

It started in the O’Leary’s barn, and though, there were many speculations as to how the fire started, the exact cause was never determined.  But blame  quickly circulated  that  O’Leary’s cow  kicked  over an oil lamp, which Catherine O’Leary denied.   There was  anti-Irish sentiment in Chicago  at the time and Catherine O’Leary was the perfect scapegoat being poor and Irish.  The story spread and it was even  noted in the  Chicago Tribune’s first post-fire issue.  In 1893,  reporter Michael Ahern retracted the story, admitting it was fabricated, but even his confession  did not  put  an end to the legend.  The O’Learys were never officially charged with starting the fire,  but the story became so ingrained  that Chicago’s city council officially exonerated them—and the cow—in 1997.

A visit  to the Water Tower,  followed by  consuming a  sinful amount of Ghirardelli  ice cream, then standing in line for an hour at Garrett’s Popcorn Shop and waddling back to the hotel was the close of day one.  You can probably understand now why we chose to walk everywhere.     : )

Stay tuned to Day  Two !

 

 

 

BIRDS – THE CUTE, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

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The Cute…. this is a mystery bird but he sure is cute

Friday, August 19, 2016

My backyard birding adventures continue…..

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Looks like a serious encounter between this female Cardinal and the mystery bird.

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More Cute… looking close you can see the last of those baby-downy feathers on this  fledgling Cardinal.

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Cute continued…..  I found this female Goldfinch resting on my back yard bench.  She sat still as I sprinkled seed at the end of the bench and watched ( at a distance)  as she came to eat it.

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Cute , but sadly, my parakeet visitor  made daily visits to my back yard for about a month and I have  not seen him since

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The Bad… this an adult  Cowbird – known for laying their eggs ( sometimes as many as 3 dozen per year) in other bird species’ nests.

Also happy to let the other bird  foster, feed and raise the baby cowbird.  Cowbirds hatch sooner, grow faster, are larger, hungrier and out-compete the host’s nestlings for food.

This  sometimes leads to the legitimate babies  demise.  Yet, somehow the  foster cowbird still develops their own song, social and breeding behavior.

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For example this female Cardinal is feeding a cowbird fledgling.   I thought I had captured a rare moment until I Googled  ” fostered cowbirds photos” and saw what a common occurrence it is.

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The Bad continues…..the Red Tailed Hawks that nested in my tree this summer still linger and several times have left me disgusting- looking  heaps of loose feathers, which I can only  conclude was a the remains of  dinner.

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The Ugly…..  bald or semi bald Cardinals and Blue Jays  are somewhat common sightings.   The Bird World experts  is not quite sure why this happens but assures us the hair evidently grows back.

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These last shots  of mealtime discussions between a  Red Bellied Woodpecker and Blue Jay with  another mystery bird.  Anyone  have a guess who the mystery birds are?

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The Bad? or  The Smart?  This fledgling cardinal is a step ahead of the rest and  has no need for  discussion – he just intends to  undo and steal the whole  feeder.

 

Burkett’s laws of birding

The First Law of Birding: The greater the time spent searching for a rarity, the greater the chances it will be sitting on your car when you return to the parking lot.

The Second Law of Birding: There are two sides of a tree; the side facing you and the side where the bird is.

The Third Law of Birding: When you see the bird that you have always wanted to see, it will be in the last spot you thought of looking for it.

The Fourth Law of Birding: The best bird seen during a trip is usually seen in bad light, isn’t calling or singing, is seen for less than a second, and is the last “trip bird”.

— by Cody Burkett, Phoenix, AZ

 

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed my back yard birding!

 

 

GALENA, ILLINOIS EXPLORATIONS, 2016

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Galena’s Railway Station

July 5, 2016

Galena, Illinois became the destination of a girl’s getaway weekend this past May.  Other than hearing how old, picturesque and quaint the town was, we knew little about it and we were delightfully impressed.    Galena is rich in history and architectural beauty with  85 % of the buildings in a National Register Historic District.   Organized in 1826, the town of Galena quickly became  a hub for lead mining and shipping along the Mississippi River from the Galena River.   In 1845 Galena shipped a record 54,494,850 pounds of lead.    By the 1850’s Galena was the busiest port between St. Paul and St. Louis with sometimes  fifteen steamboats  docked along Water Street at one time.

As for the  political side of Galena’s  history, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas both spoke from the balcony of the DeSoto House Hotel.   In  1860, Ulysses S. Grant came  from  St. Louis to work in his father’s leather goods store.   Grant  met  many politically influential  people and subsequently was  named  a General in the Civil War.   When Grant  triumphantly  returned  from the  War in 1865 , he was given a fine furnished  home on  as a token of the town’s gratitude.    Now an  historic site, it is  open to the public.

In 1848 at the start of the  California Gold Rush,  the lead mining industry  began to decline and  Galena  population began to decline also.   Today, Galena  is a tourist destination known for its history, architecture,  shopping and resorts.   The following photos are a mere sampling of what there is to do and see in Galena…

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Grant’s home stands behind the statue of Julia Dent Grant.

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A room full of Grant memorabilia  can be seen in the Galena Welcome Center.

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Grants Park sits overlooking the Galena River – an  inviting spot to sit-a-spell.

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Downtown is very  walkable and full of shops and restaurants.

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To see more of Galena,, the trolley tour is relaxing , interesting and entertaining all in one.  Also a terrific way to see the  town but avoid walking  the very  hilly terrain.

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Taken from the trolley window, this is a great example of hills and staircases.

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This Guest House is another example – imagine carrying your suitcase up those stairs….

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Along the banks of the Galena River, there are  beautiful , peaceful places to  enjoy the scenery and  nature .

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Or a great walking path to explore.

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Galena has one majestic  home after another – there was no end to the beautiful historic homes.

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of all sizes

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The Belvedere Home, built in 1857,  has 22 rooms and  is open to the public for tours.  Sadly, the day were there, it had not opened yet for the season.

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The condo we rented backed up  to some woods and had a convenient  patio railing where I could sprinkle the bird seed  I brought.   ( Yes, I do travel with bird seed – was there any doubt?)

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And look what I attracted…….

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an Eastern Bluebird…

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and an Oriole !!!!!

(There are many orioles –  I think this is a Scott’s Oriole)

Thanks for reading and safe travels !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIGGEST SURPRISE SO FAR at my FEEDER

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July 4, 2016

How fitting that on Independence Day, along with  the day before,  I had a very  surprising bird  come to feed  – so much so, that at first I thought I was seeing things.   Most likely, an escaped pet parakeet that has, so far,  adapted very well to life on the run.   He made himself very acquainted with my back yard – checking out  the bird houses, all of which are ” full-no vacancy”, the other feeders- though the bell seed is the favorite, sitting on my fence railing ,  flag post and my patio chair.  If he would come to me, I would gladly give him a good home, but even though I can get fairly close to him, he has made it clear, he has no intentions of being caught.   I can accept those conditions and hope he continues to visit and hang out in my yard.

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HERE

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A white crowned sparrow  was also  new to my yard this spring.

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The newest resident in my wren house…..

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who, along with his mate,  finds many places to sit and guard their new home.

I have been scolded many times for getting too close to their chirping  babies.

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Speaking of babies – this one looks old enough to move out…

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This juvenile cardinal  has a  2-tone beak – I love to watch their adult colors emerge.

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Two recently fledged Red Tail Hawks  hang out frequently near the nest in my back yard pine.

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or sit on the fence and stare at me.

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Lastly these finch were kind enough to pose for  photos with my spring iris.

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“my favorite weather is bird chirping weather”  (Terri Guillemets)

Hope you enjoyed!   Thanks for reading!!

 

 

JEWELL BOX GARDENS JUNE 2016

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June 29, 2016

Having recently attended  a wedding at the Forest Park  Jewell Box,

I  also enjoyed the beautiful gardens in front and snapped a few photos of them to share:

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Hope you enjoyed !

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

IRIS TIME AT the GARDENS, 2016

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June 26, 2016

a·sy·lum  :

an institution offering shelter and support to people who are mentally ill.

The  plants at the  Missouri Botanical Gardens come  close enough to an asylum if you just move a couple of letters and take time to……..

enjoy some of  nature’s spring  beauties……

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Chihuly  glass sculpture and roses….

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A few of the iris that bloomed this past May..

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These were my Mom’s favorite colors in an iris

and she never fails to pop into my mind when I see them….

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If you look close, this is a double bloom….

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I have no idea what these are but I loved the whimsical look of them …

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Peonies also bloomed in May..

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A pack of pansies…

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Always love the sheep……

Thanks for reading!!!

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