Once again, musical accompaniment may be found here.
Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on Gods celestial shore
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away
Some days I just hang out, pondering what kind of mischief I can next get myself into. It is kind of a primate thing.
Did you think I was done with my zoo photos? Not so quick there Sparky, I’ve still got a few animals to share with you.
Meet the Kilpspringer, the ballerinas of the antelope world.
These tiny antelope forever walk on tiptoe, or more appropriately the leap on tip toe. Their name means “Rock jumper” for reasons I figure you can figure out pretty easily.
These birds have a particular “dance” they do. It incorporates all the necessary elements necessary to impress a potential romantic partner: strutting, wing-spreading, hopping about, as well as the occasional tossing of straw or dirt clods into the air. We witnessed the last maneuver, but my shots of it were too blurry to be of use. Suffice it to say that witnessing this spectacle of crane dancing is worth getting up at six AM for.
Since this blog has taken a turn toward animals lately (both dead and alive), we’ll stay on theme with a post or two on Sand Cranes. These are large migratory birds that converge by the thousands on the same field in Indiana every fall and spring. Until this weekend, I had no idea such a sight was to be had within ninety minutes’ drive of Chicago. When a friend suggested taking a trip to see them, the Idiot Photographer and I jumped at the chance. After all, road trips are always fun, and we needed some photo opportunities since the urbex has been in a little lull of late. So 6AM this past Sunday found us on the road, trying to get to the wildlife preserve shortly after dawn when these birds would be most active.
Some quick lessons learned: the lenses optimal for shooting decaying buildings are not so hot when it comes to capturing birds in flight. I had thought my 250mm lens was quite the zoom; it was neither “zoomy” or fast enough to get the kind of shots I was hoping for. Live and learn. I will post a few more shots tomorrow, including a couple of the cranes’ famous mating dance.
Two shots of birds from last weekend’s trip to the Brookfield Zoo. First, the instantly recognizable Greater Delta Mardi Gras Bird. (Bourbonaisse Plumarius)
And a portrait of the handsome Tufted Blue Gargler (Indigo Emesis)
Sometimes you have stand in the danger zone to get the photo you want.
Hello down there!
From a trip to Brookfield Zoo. A giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, the only extant species in the genus Giraffa which is in the Giraffidae family.
As a younger man, I played a lot of basketball. Sometimes I would go by myself down to the gym, get on a pick up team, and play. Other times I would have three or four friends with me, a ready made team, and we’d take on whoever we could find. Certain courts or gyms in the area were known to have great competition; we’d seek those out when we could. It was a scene similar to Rucker Park, though on a much lower level, of course.
Whatever the level of play was, the competition was always fierce. The informal rules were that the winning team would stay on the court and play the next challengers; if you were lucky enough to be on a solid team that day, you’d play for a couple hours straight. If, however, you stepped on the court and recognized immediately that you were outclassed, it could be a quick and humbling game.
And so it was when after the Idiot Photographer and I decided on a Saturday trip to the zoo, I knew I was going to be in for a photographic drubbing. My friend and co-blogger knows animals like few others. Animal behavior is mysterious to most of us, but to her, it is clear as day. It really is kind of awesome. And her understanding of animals informs her photography. She seems to know how to wait for a good picture, whereas I wish someone would taxidermy the damned critters so they’d stop moving and I could get my shot.
IP has already posted a couple shots from our trip to Brookfield Zoo, now it’s my turn. It’ll feel a bit like chucking up bricks on the court, but you still have to play the game.
No cat does regal quite like the snow leopard.
Hi everyone, miss me? Sorry to have been gone so long, but I’m back, and I finally managed to drag Tabula Rasa to the zoo for a day of animal photography! I know it isn’t the dust, mold and decay you all usually come here for but I needed something to lift my spirits, and a visit to a well kept zoo fit the bill perfectly. Normally I go to our local free zoo, but this time I decided that we should check out the pay zoo and see what different animals we might find there, and today I saw my first okapi.
Okapi are weird animals, they are known as the “forest giraffe”, and are the only other member of the giraffe family. No where near as tall and goofy looking as your typical reticulated giraffe, they are built more horse-like and have striped legs. They are dedicated browsers (meaning they eat leaves and bark) and are on the endangered species list, which squashes my dreams of having one as a pet. Well, that and the fact that I live in a studio apartment.
Either way, meet the mysterious okapi.
If city skylines are Tabula Rasa’s guilty pleasure then kittens are mine. I have the good luck of getting to occasionally have a fuzzy ball of needle teeth and claws bounding about my home driving my older cats up a wall.
My latest tiny cat was dubbed Dust Bunny, she was rescued from under a front porch by the local police after her mother was struck by a car. They did not find any other kittens and given her behavior I suspect she really was an only kitten.
No kitten bites as much as an only kitten.
She has already gone to her new home where she has another kitten to chew on, instead of my feet. But she was quite possibly the cutest kitten I’ve ever fostered.
Much I marveled this ungainly fowl..
This is the time of year we are invaded by the singing choir of cicadas. I couldn’t live anywhere that I wouldn’t get to hear them sing even if I do find them freaky and will flip my lid if one lands on me.
Since they start emerging in midsummer and keep on coming through August we get to find empty little larva shells stuck to trees and bushes for months on end. I’ve always wanted to catch one emerging from the shell but have never had the luck. This time I found one that had emerged but the carapace had not yet hardened so it is still green and unable to fly.
I found this one on a tree right on the parkway of my street, so of course I couldn’t get more than a photo in before the neighbors decided to ask what the hell I was up to. They couldn’t understand why on earth on someone would want to take a photo of a bug that wasn’t a butterfly, but I figure that is fair since I don’t really understand why they aren’t interested in an animal that is such a loud part of their lives. One even invited me to a “green” building/garden walk to see the local buildings that are “Eco-friendly”, but she promised there no were bugs except worms and butterflies. Which tells me they are not as Eco-friendly as they think they are.
I think I’ll stay with documenting the yearly cicada invasion, thank you very much.
I miss working and playing with horses, so when my coworker said she wanted some good photos of her horse Oorah I instantly volunteered my services as a hack with a camera.
I got to spend an afternoon with this charming fellow, and as you can see, he is quite the ham.
He is darling horse who will happily follow you all over the paddock just to see what you’re up to, and if he can be a part of it.
We did eventually get him to run a bit for us, and he is a total drama queen when you get him going.
Not quite a photobomb, but one second there was no kitty, then there was, then there wasn’t.
I’m getting ready for the final workday of my week and all I want to do it sleep. Even if all I had to sleep on was a flat, hard rock and a lion.
Well, given that this is a zoo bird he is a little more pink than red or scarlet. Like flamingos they get the red coloring from the crustaceans they eat so zoo birds tend to be a little less brightly colored than their wild counterparts.
The color comes about because they digest the shells, the chemical that turns your lobster bright red when you cook it is the same one that accounts for the coloring of ibis and flamingos. It travels through the body and gets deposited in the feathers as they grow, so the pigmentation is not from a dye process like some might assume.
Interestingly enough there is a similar process in humans that has been fairly well documented. There are people who drink a liquid solution of colloidal silver thinking that it will help prevent infections (pro-tip, it doesn’t), too much taken over your life span will result in gray-blue skin, it is a condition called argyria and this article explains the process. People are weird.
It is common knowledge that Australia has a wide ranging selection of venomous critters who can cause death in many nasty ways. In this case we’re going to take a look at a bird who is equipped with a spur on its wing that many believed was venomous (because what animal in Australia isn’t?) but has been proven to not be. It is, however, a pretty funny looking bird in a land of beautiful birds.
Meet the Masked Lapwing. They are a common bird found all over wetland areas, with heaviest population in Queensland, Northern Territories and New South Wales
It is reported that this wetland dwelling insect eater is shy, but my contacts in the Land Down Under report that during breeding season it is a fierce defender of its nest and chicks to the point of driving off cats and small dogs with a barrage of attacks using that wing spur I mentioned. It will try the “I’m injured over here” game to lure a predator away from its nest, but if that predator goes closer all bets are off and the lapwing will attack.
If they were a little more discriminating about where they nest this might not be such a terrible thing but from what I gather they will nest pretty much anywhere, including along sidewalks and in parking lots. This had lead to a slight decline in populations in urban areas where outdoor cats are more common and predation of the chicks happens a little more frequently. However overall they’re still pretty common, and about as silly looking as a bird can get. Why did nature decide this bird needed a yellow robber’s mask? I’m afraid to know.
Flamingos, are ridiculously colored, fluffy featherballs with stick legs and an angry looking curved beak, they remind me of those ladies who wish they were high society and make every attempt to give the appearance of it, but they aren’t. I suspect this is why hideous plastic versions of this creature adorn the yards of people who think tacky plastic lawn ornaments are classy and will make the place look spiffy.
Unlike the common depiction of flamingos, they are loud, quarrelsome and ungainly critters. Which makes watching one bathe extra funny.
Then you get that magical moment when all dignity is utterly abandoned and one falls over on its side.
I’ll be gracious here and mention that most creatures tend to squabble on a regular basis, especially when they are in large social groups that have nothing to do with how much the individuals actually like one another. I will point you to the corporate office dwelling sub-species of Homo sapiens as proof of that. With that said, flamingos are masters of being argumentative. Here we have a three way argument between birds that were all initially upset at other birds that were not even involved in this rather loud argument. Let me set it up for you:
Nesting flamingo was actually mad at one of the birds behind her for stepping too close to the nest. That bird retreated immediately but nesting was feeling cranky so she bit the foot of the next closest bird (on the left) who was squabbling with another bird outside of the shot. He turned around and yelled at the nearest standing bird (on the right) all while nesting bird yelled at both of them.
Conclusion: Flamingos are jerks.
I’m preparing to head out on adventure, since I won’t be online tonight I figured I’d give you guys something to look at while I’m away.
Here is a horse pretending he is a tree.
Did I ever mention that I like goats? I think I may more than once. Either way goats are awesome and recently on a little trip to the vast expanse of corn and soybean that is known as the rest of the state of Illinois I got the opportunity to play with some very well behaved goats.
I was visiting a coworker’s family because she wanted some good photos of her two horses, they will be featured in another post. While there we asked the neighbors if I could photograph the goats and they readily agreed. It was an amazing experience as I am accustomed to either unsocialized goats that are mostly decoration for the barn, or the ill mannered bullies you find in petting zoos.
These little goats are ladies through and through. They were very curious as to what we were up to but they didn’t jump on you or steal from you. They just wanted to be petted and scratched, something I was happy to do in between taking photos.
Then there was April. She has the goofiest personality of any goat I’ve ever met and given that they’re not exactly the most stoic animals to begin with that is saying a lot. Many of my photos have her sneaking around in the background, checking things out. She was terribly impressed with the camera, and while she wasn’t too sure about it she just had to make sure that she was the center of attention at all times.