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Foto Friday: Waiting for a band

Posted on July 24th 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Forest Preserves, Foto Friday, Illinois, Nature

Can you guess what’s in the bags hanging in this tree?

Bird bags hanging in a tree

Those bags have different birds inside them, ready to be banded. There’s Common Yellowthroat, Bluebirds, Song Sparrows and Red-bellied Woodpecker. Doesn’t it look a little surreal?

We visited a group of bird banders last Tuesday morning at Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve and observed their work for a couple of hours. They told us about bird banding and showed us how they handle and band the birds. They had ten mist nets set up that they use to catch birds and every half hour they walked past all the nets to take out the birds that got caught. After carefully removing each bird from the net it was put in a little bag and then hung in this tree until they were ready for banding. It was an interesting experience.

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat

Field Sparrow
Field Sparrow

Bird banders at work
Bird banders at work

Foto Friday: Two Bridges, Old and New

Posted on May 22nd 2009 by Arthur in Foto Friday

Two years ago today we drove to Portugal for a day while on holiday in the south of Spain. We crossed the border on the E-1 highway across the Guadiana International Bridge that crosses the Guadiana River connecting Spain and Portugal. The cable bridge was completed in 1991 and we had a great view of it walking around a wetlands nature reserve along the river, just north of Vila Real de Santo António.

Guadiana International Bridge

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Foto Friday: American Gothic Statue in Chicago

Posted on March 20th 2009 by Arthur in Chicago, Foto Friday, Illinois

This 25-foot sculpture by J. Steward Johnson is called God Bless America and was installed on Pioneer Court in Chicago last December 2008. It is based on one of the most famous American paintings, American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood, which is in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago St Pat Day 2009 048 (14-Mar)

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Foto Friday: Sears Tower

Posted on March 13th 2009 by Arthur in Chicago, Foto Friday, Illinois

I saw on the news yesterday that the Sears Tower here in Chicago is being renamed to Willis Tower. A global insurance broker, Willis Group Holdings, has announced that it will place its name on the 110-story skyscraper and lease 140,000 square feet of office space in the building. Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was built in 1973 and it still is the tallest building in the western hemisphere.


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Foto Friday: Chott el Djerid

Posted on March 6th 2009 by Arthur in Foto Friday, Travel

Today’s photo is from our visit to the largest salt lake in the Sahara, the Chott el Djerid in Tunisia. A road of 60 km crosses this 7,000 km2 salt pan. We were passed by hundreds of white Land Rovers racing south to take tourists on desert safaris when we drove this road from Tozeur to Kebili. There were some rest stops with refreshments along the way and at one of these places they had left this row boat.


Foto Friday: Little Bee-eater

Posted on February 27th 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Foto Friday

We saw this Little Bee-eater at Kotu Creek in The Gambia. He was flying around catching bees and kept returning to the same place on this branch. Every few minutes he would get a bee and hit it repeatedly against the branch to remove the sting. Then when the bee wasn’t moving anymore he would squeeze venom out before swallowing it. You can actually see a little squirt of venom come out of the bee. We watched this colorful little guy and some of his friends do this over and over again.

Little Bee-eater

Foto Friday: Riverboat Ghost

Posted on February 13th 2009 by Arthur in Disney, Foto Friday

What better photo for Friday the 13th than this spooky picture of Halloween at Disneyland Paris. The Mark Twain Riverboat is being pulled around Big Thunder Mountain by a huge floating ghost. The fog makes the creepy scene complete. The imagineers do an amazing job of decorating the park for Halloween each year. I took this picture on our visit in October 2003. The Mark Twain is based on the Anaheim park’s original riverboat attraction and is one of two riverboats at Frontierland in Disneyland Paris. Together with the Molly Brown it circles Big Thunder Mountain and Wilderness Island along sights of the Far West.



Foto Friday: Redpoll on the Birdcam

Posted on February 6th 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Foto Friday, Illinois

Today our Wingscapes Birdcam captured a Common Redpoll snacking on nyger seed among the usual American Goldfinches. This is the 15th bird to be snapped by the birdcam. These birds are usually sparse in Northern Illinois but this area is seeing a finch invasion this winter. How cool is that?

Common Redpoll


Foto Friday: Tutankhamun’s Flip-Flops

Posted on January 30th 2009 by Arthur in Foto Friday, Funny

Did you know that Tutankhamum wore flip-flops? This picture is from the Tutankhamun collection in the back of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which we visited in 2003. And check out those solid-gold toe protectors. Those don’t really compare to the Gold Toe socks at Kohl’s. All this fancy footwear was recovered by archeologist Howard Carter in 1922 when he uncovered the tomb of the famous young pharaoh. The flip flop is probably the world’s oldest shoe. From pharaohs in ancient Egypt to celebrities in Hollywood, everyone seems to love them.

Tutankhamun's flip-flops

Environmental Foto Friday: Hybrid Vehicle Parking

Posted on January 23rd 2009 by Arthur in Environment, Forest Preserves, Foto Friday, Illinois

I love the Lake County Forest Preserves. They are doing such an excellent job, with 125 miles of trails, 26,800 acres of nature preserves, informative visitor centers and great facilities. We’re new residents here in Illinois’ Lake County, and with all the snow and cold weather we haven’t been able to enjoy the forest preserves so much yet these last few months. But come spring and summer I’m sure we’ll explore as many trails as we can. We’ve even got a canoe here, so we can try out some of the canoe launches.

The other day we were at Ryerson Woods Welcome Center, which is just 4 miles from where we live. The parking lot at the new Welcome Center had several parking spaces for hybrid vehicles only! Isn’t that cool? I had never seen this before. Next to the usual handicapped spaces they had some with signs that said “Hybrid Vehicles Parking”. Here’s a picture if you don’t believe me:


And a close-up if you can’t read the sign:

Hybrid Vehicle Parking