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Posts Tagged ‘photo’

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Photo: Laurie Wolf at National Geographic
A screech owl in a Florida backyard was caught cohabiting with a duckling.

My sister had an idea that I’d like this story about an owl and a duckling, and she was right. Nature has a way of delighting us even if we’re grumpy, and according to a new Gallup poll, Americans are grumpy lately. Writes the New York Times, “Americans are among the most stressed people in the world. … Last year, Americans reported feeling stress, anger and worry at the highest levels in a decade.”

I can identify with that. But as it’s too rainy today for me to calm down with a walk in the woods, I will indulge myself in a vicarious bit of nature therapy from National Geographic.

Jason Bittel interviewed the amateur photographer who captured the scene above in her backyard.

” ‘Oh, we have an owl chick. This is wonderful!’ These were Laurie Wolf’s first thoughts when she noticed something small and fluffy bobbing up and down inside the nest box in her Jupiter, Florida, backyard. An eastern screech owl had taken up residence in the box about one month before, so she suspected it was an owl hatchling. But the truth was far stranger.

“As a storm rolled in and the sky darkened, Wolf and her husband caught a glimpse of the mother owl poking her head out of the nest box. And right beside the owl was a tiny, yellow-and-black duckling.

“ ‘The two of them were just sitting there side by side,’ says Wolf, a wildlife artist and amateur photographer. ‘It’s not believable. It’s not believable to me to this day.’

“Concerned that the predatory owl might eat the wood duck chick, Wolf contacted a raptor expert, who confirmed the duckling might be in danger. A local wildlife sanctuary agreed to care for the animal if she could catch it.

“But just as Wolf and her husband were about to intervene, the wood duck chick leapt out of the box and ‘made a beeline’ to a nearby pond, and she hasn’t seen the little critter since. …

“ ‘It’s not commonly documented, but it certainly happens,’ says Christian Artuso, the Manitoba director of Bird Studies Canada, who made a similar observation back in 2005 while he was studying eastern screech owls for his Ph.D. In that case, the female owl was actually able to incubate and hatch three wood duck chicks. …

“Parent ducks will sometimes lay an egg or two in someone else’s nest—usually another wood duck or another closely related species. …

“But shouldn’t the female owl be able to realize she’s sitting on the wrong eggs? After all, wood duck eggs are not only more oblong in shape than owl eggs, they’re also about twice the volume.

“Artuso says it’s impossible to know what a wild owl is thinking, but that it could be a case of what scientists call supernormal stimuli.

” ‘The parents might be thinking, Oh my god! This egg is huge! We’re going to have the best baby in the world!’ ”

More here.

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My first glimpses of snowdrops and crocus blooms in 2019 may not look like much as photographs, but if you’ve ever lived where winter temperatures go below zero, you know what the first flowers mean to everyone in the Northeast. Hooray! Celebration time!

The other joy is the quality of the sunlight, which I have tried to capture a little here. All these Massachusetts rambles feature the welcome, warming sun.

The Paddington Bear birdhouse is from the bookshop collection that I wrote about here. The chimney against the brilliant blue sky is atop the Colonial Inn. The little stone by the Main Streets Café flower box says, “Start each day with a grateful heart.”

The meditative circle of stones on a bench was outside Emerson Hospital’s wellness center, which includes meditation in many of its classes.

Shadows from objects in a window caught my eye on my way down the stairs. The garage door is a favorite photography subject for me, probably because of the light. The cardinal and the bird feeder make me think of the wonderful children’s biography of artist Horace Pippin called A Splash of Red — a reference to one of the self-taught artist’s signature touches. My older granddaughter likes looking for the splashes of red in the book.

The last photo is of a quiet street in early morning light.

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Photo: Kagin’s
A detail from a 4×5-inch photo depicting Billy the Kid, left, playing croquet in 1878. Worth millions of dollars, the picture was found in a junk shop and bought for $2.

When I was growing up, kids regularly played games of “cowboys and Indians.” My brother and I had cowboy and cowgirl outfits and toy guns, “six-shooters.”

How times change! Today I am much more aware of the injustices done to tribes, and my preoccupation with better gun laws makes kids running around and shooting seem uncool.

But for sure, back then we thought cowboys were great: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy — and the real Wild West holy terror, Billy the Kid.

I hadn’t thought about these guys for years, and then my husband pointed me to this article on a Billy the Kid photo.

Peter Walker writes at the Guardian, “Henry McCarty, known in Wild West lore as Billy the Kid, lived a brief and violent life, stealing and killing before his death in a gunfight aged 21. He lived with a gun in his hand – and sometimes, it seems, a croquet mallet.

“In a surprising historical twist, the second photo of McCarty ever to be authenticated shows him and his posse, the Regulators, playing the sport in New Mexico in 1878.

“The faded image was among a pile of photos inside a cardboard box at a junk shop in Fresno, California, unearthed by a collector in 2010. Randy Guijarro paid $2 for the image, which is now estimated to be worth millions of dollars. The only other confirmed photo of Billy the Kid, from 1880, sold for $2.3m in 2011.

“The photo was authenticated by a San Francisco-based Americana company, Kagin’s, which identified Billy the Kid along with several members of the Regulators, as well as friends and family. It was taken after a wedding in the summer of 1878, just a month after the gang took part in the brutal Lincoln County war.

“When the photo was first brought to the company, its experts were ‘understandably skeptical,’ said David McCarthy from Kagin’s. ‘An original Billy the Kid photo is the holy grail of Western Americana.

“ ‘We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken. Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this – a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to ensure that nothing was out of place.’

“The team spent a year investigating the photo, and even found the location where it was taken, in Chaves County, New Mexico. There they unearthed the remains of the building shown. …

“Liz Larsson, from the UK’s Croquet Association, said the series of photos from the scene left little doubt what game was being played: ‘It’s clearly croquet. You can see the hoops, the balls, the mallet, the centre peg. They’re all there. It’s a fascinating picture.’

“The first croquet club in England was founded in 1865, the same year the game was immortalised in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Larsson said. …

“[It was] not a game for the masses. … Things were, however, slightly different in the US, where companies making croquet gear created a smaller-scale version of the sport, which could be played on rougher turf, using cheaper, lightweight equipment. …

“All types of Americans played. In 1867, General George Custer wrote to his wife, Elizabeth, from his frontier fort in Kansas, asking her to ‘bring a set of field-croquet’ when she next visited. Thom Ross, a US artist specialising in historic scenes, has previously painted both Native Americans and cowboys playing croquet, saying this is based on extensive historical research.”

More here.

My brother’s cowboy hat.

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Transitions. In September, the meadow along the Sudbury River was green. Last week it was ice.

As kids, John and Suzanne used to skate on the meadow as soon as the river’s overflow ice was strong enough. Perhaps the wooden posts have something to do with a new generation planning to play there. Nowadays, John puts up a backyard rink in winter — just the thing for his family of skaters.

The next photo was taken by my sister in New York City. She says it’s unusual for Riverside Park to have icy puddles like that — one more example of the weather we’ve been experiencing in the Northeast. In my town, Thursday’s deluge came on top of melting snow and ice, and kept my husband bailing out the basement all day.

Next, you see our neighborhood before dawn and after dark, at sunrise and at sunset, in light and in shadow.

I had to include some lovely fungus, of course, and a message in stone that persons unknown left at a pocket park downtown.

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My new photography resolution, which I hope to stick to through the winter, is to capture shadows whenever the sun is out. Apart from the fact that I really like sunlight and shadow, I know I can find examples even in months when the photographic attractions of flowers and sailboats are not in evidence.

Today’s photo collection includes Massachusetts fall color, decorations for Halloween (I particularly liked that there were three witches, as in Shakespeare), curiosities from the MIT Museum (I loved Arthur Ganson‘s walking wishbone — and all his kinetic sculptures), and a graffiti warning in a Central Square alley.

“Come away, O human child!
“To the waters and the wild
“With a faery, hand in hand,
“For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

Read the rest of the W.B. Yeats poem here.

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There’s been a bit of a drought in my picture taking. I got so tired of winter, and now in spring I’m reluctant to shoot the same photos I shoot every year. Although when you think about it, it’s kind of beautiful that the same crocus, hellabore, and winter aconite pop up over the same creative neighbor’s stonewall year after year.

We’ve finally had some spring in New England. The very best sign of that was a lemonade stand I saw yesterday.

Two young girls were selling lemonade and flavored iced tea ($.75, mint leaves optional) and Rice Krispies Treats ($.25) while playing duets on the clarinet and violin. They told me they were raising money for a charity that provides instruments and music lessons to children in Haiti.

They were adorable. One girl pointed out their homemade signs. She said, “We didn’t have any big cardboard to make signs, so we got pizza for dinner last night.” The pizza box provided the needed cardboard.

The other pictures are pretty self-explanatory. The crocus flowers peeked up just before we had one of our numerous late snowstorms. The gorgeous architecture and shadows are thanks to the preservation ethos in Providence.

I was thrilled to see the opportunistic pansy poking through a stone curb. And the trout lilies. I had to take two shots of the trout lilies, the only wildflowers that still flourish after I took a walking class in local conservation lands 25 years ago.

(No worries: I didn’t steal flowers from the woods but was able to buy several varieties of wildflowers at a plant sale. Sometimes a solitary May Apple shows up near the trout lilies in my yard, but it is sad and lonely. The trillium never had a prayer as it is fussy about soil and likes to hang with a group. Perhaps the wild geraniums will bloom this year.)

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When you don’t have to travel, ice and snow are not the burden they are to a driver. You can wander a little outside your home and take pictures, bake banana bread, put out carrots for the bunny that appears at dawn, feed the birds, make ice lanterns.

The ice lanterns above were made by John’s children, and the photo was taken by my daughter-in-law. I love the smoky, swirly, mysterious aura that she captured.

My own 2018 ice lantern is below. My husband was critical to the enterprise. If you want to make an ice lantern yourself, check out an earlier post, here. You need a really cold day.

Right before Christmas, I took several photos of ice on trees and bushes because it looked so pretty. I know it’s not good for plants, though.

Sandra M. Kelly is the photographer behind the two photos of frozen bodies of water in New Shoreham — water that hardly ever freezes. It didn’t stay frozen long enough for her to get shots of ice boat racing, however. New England is swinging too quickly from deep freeze to balmy.

The big snow January 4th produced the mountain I noticed in a parking lot and the deceptive cushions on Suzanne’s porch furniture.

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