The desert is snake country as we were reminded along the trail at the visitors center at Saguaro National Park where we saw several of these signs. You can be sure I was thrilled to learn that of the 36 species of rattlesnakes that live in North and South America (rattlers are found nowhere else), 13 call Arizona home. That’s a good reason not to hike with headphones, since a rattle is the snake’s way of letting you know they’re there and would rather you weren’t. And since the desert “summer”, or at least the season when it’s hot enough for snakes to be out and about, lasts from April to October, it behooves a hiker to take a good deal of caution about where s/he puts hands and feet and to listen for that warning sound, something you can’t do with music or a podcast blaring in your ears.

As I was taking photos along the trail, my husband called to me, saying our daughter had found something I’d want to photograph. She’d first thought it was a plastic bag, but a closer look showed that it was a long, intact molting of a snake. Now I don’t know for a fact that it was from a rattlesnake but after having seen several of the warning signs, I think there’s a good chance that it was.

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for One Word Sunday…spectacle

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge might have you seeing double. Although most things aren’t truly symmetrical, many are so close that you can’t tell the difference or you feel that you’re seeing symmetry.

When I think of symmetry, the William Blake poem springs immediately to mind:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Fortunately for you, there’s nothing fearful about the symmetry I’m sharing today. The snowy egret in this first shot is almost dancing on the water and with the water’s smooth cooperation, it’s almost perfectly symmetrical.

“Symmetry is what we see at a glance; based on the fact that there is no reason for any difference…”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Here’s another almost symmetrical shot from the Riverwalk in Naperville, Illinois.

Although this photo is less symmetrically perfect than the previous ones, there’s still a pleasing almost-symmetry about it and it feels balanced.

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for Six Word Saturday…9.26.20

These are from McDowell Forest Preserve in Naperville, Illinois. Not many new flowers around here right now, but these bring back some good memories. I don’t remember what these are called, but there were only one or two plants in the entire park. In fact, I was going to go the lazy woman’s route and just say I didn’t know what they were because it’s not always easy trying to identify a flower or tree online. But I decided to give it a try, looking up “wildflowers Illinois” via DuckDuckGo and lo and behold, I found a photo right on the first page! They’re Royal Catchfly, (Silene regia) the name probably deriving from the sticky hairs that catch insects. These plants have endangered status in Illinois, so I guess I was fortunate to see them!

Red is an uncommon color among prairie plants because many pollinating insects (e.g., bees) are insensitive to this range of the light spectrum. However, some butterflies perceive red, and for this reason are attracted to such flowers. The flowers of Royal Catchfly have a design that favors butterflies as pollinating agents: They have a proboscis that is sufficiently long to reach the nectar at the bottom of the long narrow tube that is formed by the calyx, while the flared petals provide a colorful landing platform for their legs. Illinois Wildflowers

Evidently they’re also pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird, according to Wikipedia. At any rate, they’re very attractive!

Had to laugh because evidently I looked them up before. When I typed the name into my tags, it popped up. 🙂 Just didn’t remember what I’d forgotten.

It’s been a full, good, but very long day. It’s 9:30 pm and I need to go to sleep. So I almost didn’t do a post this week…but decided instead that I’d not exactly cheat but share a photo where there is a door but it’s not the star attraction. This is the visitor center at Saguaro National Park which we visit again two days ago to share it with our older daughter who’s visiting us for the week. The door is just an ordinary door, the park anything but ordinary, the shadows extraordinary.

And now, good night, and a blessed Thursday to each of you.

for Thursday Doors…9.24.20

Image  —  Posted: September 23, 2020 in birds
Tags: , , , ,

for Lens-Artists Challenge #115: inspiration

It’s cooled down a bit, making an early morning walk in the Preserve much more enjoyable. Of course, “cool” is a relative term in Arizona. Let’s just say it’s been below 80F at 6 am in the morning. But where there are trees and water, even if the latter is reclaimed, there’s more coolness in the air and people and animals are out and about.

“Diversity” is the “in” term now and the Preserve’s got it as this photo of a great blue heron (GBH to Sylvia) and a great egret, both preening away, getting primped for the photographers, shows. The GBH nickname amuses me because in many of the British police procedurals I read, that stands for “Grievous Bodily Harm.” I imagine the fish in the area might go for that meaning.

Look in the background, there at the bottom of the reeds. Sneaking around behind the larger, flashier birds is a juvenile night heron.

Gamboling about looking for food is a Gambel quail. There are lots of these ground dwellers around but you’ll also see them in trees and bushes. The babies are adorable, but even when small, they can all run like crazy.

For many, birds are the main attraction here, although this guy (?) night beg to differ. I did look up how to figure out what sex a turtle is, but it’s not easy even if you can get up close and handle the turtle, which certainly isn’t happening here! Too bad it’s not a snapping turtle or I could use one of my husband’s favorite turtle lines: “Turtle soup, waiter, and make it snappy!”

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for One Word Sunday: early