Seasonal traveler…

Green Heron

Careful observation at Lincoln Park’s North Pond can reveal unique birds. This Green Heron (Butorides virenscens) probably wintered in the southern States or Central America. In the South they frequent coastal areas or Mangrove swamps. In the Midwest they are content to residency by ponds and wetlands. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

On closer inspection…

The Winged Loosestrife’s (Lythrum alatum) vibrant color stood out on the cliff’s wall across from our descending path to Wild Cat Canyon in Starved Rock State Park. Only later when I was home and reviewing these images did I realize the plant was a resting spot for this winged insect. Such is the joy of photography. My eyes often miss seeing all the subjects in my compositions. Sometimes what I capture is distracting to my desired focus (unwanted elements in the background). This added subject was a wonderful surprise.

My initial thought was that this insect was a dragonfly or damselfly. But those insects have two pairs of wings. I am guessing that this is some variety of Crane Fly (Tipula) instead. The other joy of nature photography is that I am always learning!

I zoomed in to get the original picture (bottom image) and found a new and more interesting composition when I zoomed in still closer (first image).

Posing nicely for my picture. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

I spo

Longer view of this Loosestrife and Crane Fly scene, to show more of the habitat. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

tted

 

Petite bouquets…

Eastern Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) shows up voluntarily along paths and roadsides. The flowers are thumbnail sized and bloom in bouquet arrangements tempting passersby to capture their loveliness. Today I brought them home as images saved.

Portrait of Daily Fleabane. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Nature’s bouquet. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Urban prairie puzzle…

New England Aster {Aster novae-angliae} copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

New England Aster {Aster novae-angliae} copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

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copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

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copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Interesting seed head formation; copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Interesting seed head formation; copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

These images were all taken at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s prairie garden in Chicago in September. Other than the Aster I am puzzled by the identity of these plants. Once again I am reminded of how much I do NOT know still.

You are WELCOME to add share your expertise if you know any of these interesting plants.

Ups and downs…

Perspectives vary just as opinions vary. “Snow” evokes different feelings and moods. Children are barely able to remain in their seat when they see snowfall out a classroom window. Anticipation of heavy labor occupies the thoughts of many others. I usually see beauty, though admittedly this winter I’m growing weary of the accompanying COLD. This weekend we have a fresh five inches of glistening white, temporarily hiding the layers of crusted urban-soiled “old” snow.

One image here reveals the vastness of a desolate winter scene. Contrastingly, the bench and bleachers in the background remind the observer that at other times of the year this space activity fills this scene.

Dormant trees make interesting subjects, accentuated against their white background. The sprigs of new growth arising from the top of the mature limb mimics the stand of trees in the background. Repeating patterns complimenting each other and reinforcing the bareness of winter in the Midwest. The touch of sunlight colors the under limb providing a dash of warmth and hope for warmer days.

Chin up, weary winter friends who still, as I have a NEED to wear our boots. Look for fresh perspectives. Look up and down. Your images will be more imaginative and your outlook will stay “up”. March “should” go out like a lamb!

Complimentary tree patterns copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Complimentary tree patterns copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Winter wonderland, Mansfield Park, Morton Grove, IL copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg
Winter wonderland, Mansfield Park, Morton Grove, IL copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

A common northerner, or so I think…

White Pine...or so assumed, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

White Pine…or so assumed, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Best guess, is sometimes the best I can do when it comes to identifying a plant species. Snowfall challenges my abilities further. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus L.) is my best guess for this common evergreen in our neighborhood. Most trees were planted in effort to provide green accents in newly built residential sites.

Though the 48 inches of January followed by yesterday’s 4 inches are trying the patience of the heartiest around here, the temperature was well above zero yesterday. We were a balmy 30 degrees (Fahrenheit), so I ventured out for an hour-long vigorous walk. Only half of our day’s snow total had landed, so I grabbed our waterproof Nikon Coolpix camera. I don’t mind walking in active snowfall; but I respect my lenses’ care needs. It seems that White Pine seeds prefer a moist environment, so I’m assuming their needs have been met this winter.

Pinec one wrapped in fresh snow, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Pinec one wrapped in fresh snow, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Upside down…

Turkey Foot copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Turkey Foot copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Big Bluestem (Adropogon gerardii) is the dominant plant here, rearing up to ten feet tall with roots of equal depth. It is no wonder that survival is virtually guaranteed except when clearing is accompanied by farming or development.

Turkey Foot is its nickname which is appropriate from the seed cluster arrangement. The name leads me to ponder who saw wild turkey with their feet in the air, reminding them of this plant?

 

 

Big Bluestem copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Big Bluestem copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

For the official information on this Illinois symbol visit: http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/symbols/grass.html.

When do two become one…

When are flowers on a single stem made up of two distinct characteristics?

European Cranberry Bush 2013 Pamela Breitberg

European Cranberry Bush 2013 Pamela Breitberg

European Cranberry Bush copyright 2013

European Cranberry Bush copyright 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “wet woods” is an understatement for the Harms Woods patch of Cook County Forest Preserve. At this moment one would need tall boots to take a stroll here as the excessive rains have reinforced its official wetland status. This wet footing is the ideal habitat for the European Cranberry Bush

(Viburnum opulus). Flat pancakes of white flowers draw attention in the spring; red cranberry-like berries hold visual interest in the fall. Pure white flowers fully open on the outside of the pancake cluster, while smaller cream colored flowers open in the interior. Both flower types have five petals but the inner flowers’ petals are less distinct. The larger outer flowers are sterile while the small inner flowers are fertile. A fine example of nature breaking the rules of nature.

For detailed information see: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_viopa2.pdf

Two in a million…

House Sparrow youth copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

Fledgling House Sparrow copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

Waiting patiently in the willow tree were this mother House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)and baby. The young one’s long nails completely surround the willow branch appearing to ensure safety on this lofty perch. I’m unsure if this

Female House Sparrow copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

fluffy fledgling was still being attended to or if it had achieved independence. Parent sparrows will continue to support fledglings for up to two weeks. This sight is the Chicago Botanic Garden, home to some of the one million plus House Sparrows populating Illinois. Seed and occasional insect eaters, these birds were waiting for dropped food at their relaxing outdoor Grill. Potato chips do not a healthy diet make for bird or person. Hopefully mom and child were here for a special treat, as we too opted to enjoy ourselves that early evening.

Chip time for House Sparrows copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg