Gettin’ Beaky With It – The Ibis In the Pond

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Beaky has big feet!  This lovely fellow is…

The White Ibis!

I like birds, but they scare me.  Their beaks, in particular, are frightening because they’re a combination of sword, knife, and skewer.

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The pretty black bird behind the ibis is a Cormorant, another type of fishing bird.  We had lots of them in California, but I don’t recall seeing very many here in the Chicago area.  (That doesn’t necessarily signify; I’m not really a birder.)

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The ibis decided he wanted to move off his perch.

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I didn’t catch it until he spread them, but his wings have black edges.

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And his wing-span is a lot bigger than it looks like when he’s just innocently standing there.  This is a big bird.

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He apparently likes being talked to, because he looked right at me.

Or, he’s planning to leap clear over the branch and eat my face.  Take your pick.

Join me tomorrow for the hardest of the letter animals to find:  J.

Oh, and a quick word about ichthyology – when I was researching the letters, I had a devil of a time figuring out what to do for several of them (including “J”).  I couldn’t think of any “I’s,” so I settled on ichthyology – or the study of fish.  I have lots of neat pictures of fish.

But then I found the lovely ibis, and I had to use him for today instead.  🙂


Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well asGrace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

It Came From the Ocean

The Dogs of the Sea – Harbor Seals

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He came over to see what we were doing.

Or, to fish or check out his tank.

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This is actually a Grey Seal, I believe, if I’m reading my notes correctly.  The fatter speckled ones are the Harbor Seals, I think.

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I wish I had video of this one.  He was hysterical.  He came out of his enclosure, barking, and waving his head back and forth like Stevie Wonder.  We think it may have been near the time they are fed.

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This looks like it’s on its side, but it’s actually not – I was trying to get both of them in the same shot.  The one on the right seems to be the harbor seal, and the one on the left is the grey seal.

I love their whiskers!

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One more of this show-off as he came over and came up out of the water for me.

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These are the seals I grew up around – California sea lions.

So, I said yesterday I’d tell you a story about Pier 39.  When I was a kid, Pier 39 was a fun place to go.  It’s located on the bay in San Francisco, California, USA, and is literally the 39th pier along the wharf.  Filled with shops and eateries, it’s a good place to spend an afternoon.

Back then, the sea lions would come up along the shore under the wharf, which was a wooden structure along the coastline on top of which were built the shops and such.

And the tourists, predictably, would feed the seals.

A few years ago, there were reports of the now aggressive seals coming up onto the wharf and attacking tourists for food.  I’m not sure how exaggerated those reports were, but let’s face it: this is an animal weighing several hundred pounds.  It isn’t the most agile on dry land, but it can move along at startling velocity.

As much as I joke about wanting to pet the animals at the zoo, one must always remember that these are wild animals, and we are guests in their demesnes.  When researching some of my posts for the challenge, I happened to look up lions and human interactions, and came across several awful posts of recent deaths of photographers who, in their hubris, forgot this simple fact.

These are wild animals, not pets.

But I still wanna pet one.

Remember, A-Z fans, tomorrow has no post, being Sunday; check back on Monday when I reveal what the heck animal begins with the letter “I” – and it wasn’t easy!


 

Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Number One Goose, and Giraffe Have Long Tongues

Okay, “G” is a bonus letter day because I have a ton of pictures of geese at the zoo, because they make me laugh; and I took some pictures of the giraffes on my last visit.

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Watchoo lookin’ at?

This big guy was nesting in a planter immediately in front of the restaurant windows.

Next to the stairs.

And he was hissing.

Hrr?

Okay, giraffe it is then!

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Their tongues are black!

I had no idea of this fact until I saw this lady mackin’ on the tree.

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I’m pretty sure this is the two-year-old male that lives in the enclosure with the three other lady giraffes.

They are so dopey-looking when they walk around, and especially when they run.

I still wanna pet one.

Tomorrow, we visit the harbor seals and I’ll tell you a story about Pier 39.

Bonus, for you fans of Noon & Wilder – for the holidays this past year, we wrote a short story, Six Geese Laid – A Holiday Fable.  The talented Vance Bastian performed it on the WROTE podcast.  If you haven’t had a listen, step on over there and give it a try.


Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Too Foxy!

Fennec Foxes!

I adore these little guys.  Their ears are bigger than their heads, practically!  While they have a large desert-like enclosure in which to play, I’ve only ever seen them curled up in their nest, snoozing.

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It’s tough getting the lighting right, because they’re in a very dark enclosure.  This one is the center fox, but if you look carefully, you can see his mate’s ears just behind his haunches and realize that there’s a whole second fox back there.

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I tried to get a better framing for them both, but the rear fox is in too much shadow.

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I managed to catch it on this one, but kneeling down practically on the same plane as their bed.

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There are actually three foxes in this picture, as this next series was taken on a different day.  You can see more of the right one’s nose and face structure.  His ears really do dominate his head.

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He’d almost drifted off here, and you can see the other two’s ears even though most of their bodies are in shadow.

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Something caught his attention, I don’t know what. (I’m using “he” in the indefinite form here; I don’t know their sex.)

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This one’s a little clearer just on the one who’d raised his head.  What you can’t see from this angle is that the rock on the right leads out to their main enclosure, so they get sounds that echo in from the walkway that patrons travel.  I wonder if he heard something there, or if my camera shutter was annoying him.  I don’t know if he can hear it through the lucite, but with those ears, I’d imagine so.

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Aaaand, nap time in three… two…

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…one…

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I really wanted to get a close-up on their ears, but was having a devil of a time with the lighting.  I like this one, though, because it’s pretty clear on the right-hand fox.  I couldn’t quite get the other two clearly enough to be visible.

Come visit tomorrow for G is for…

… well, I haven’t decided.  Goose or Giraffe, we’ll see.  Maybe both.


 

Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Stephen Colbert Ain’t Got Nuthin’ On Him!

E Is For Eagle!

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Nestled in a fairly small enclosure between the bears and the wolves is this lovely fellow.  It’s a bit of a sad story; he was injured and can no longer fly; therefore, he cannot be released back into the wild.  I’ve seen a few bald eagles in the wild, but always at a distance.

They’re big damn birds, that’s for sure.

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He seemed to be keeping sentry over the picnic area, and if I’m not completely mistaken, he was watching a very loud little boy with a dour eye.

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The minute I thought that, he turned.

“He’s looking at me, Ray.”

(Think the first Ghostbusters.)

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He has a piercing stare, and that beak looked plenty dangerous.  I’m curious if the videos with Stephen Colbert and eagles ever featured a live eagle?  That must be something.  Look at how powerful those talons are!

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He didn’t move very much, content to perch on his branch, so the photos are all very similar.

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I said to my husband, “Honey, let’s go.”  And he turned and looked at me again.

o.O…


 

Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Dogs – Of the African Wild Variety

I first encountered African wild dogs at the zoo in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, a state to the south of where we live.  I’m not sure how, but I’d never encountered them before.  When we became members at Brookfield Zoo, I discovered a whole habitat for African wild dogs that allows them to run around and, well, be dogs.

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This agile little fellow spotted the meat hanging from a tree, which handlers do in order to keep the dogs’ hunting behaviors sharp.  While they’re not pet dogs, this one sure looked like what my dog would look like if she came across steak in a tree.

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Hut!  Hut!  Up he goes.

I love the ruff on the back of their neck and shoulders.  They’re really pretty, with rounded ears that definitely give them a not-dog appearance.

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Success!  You really get an idea of their physical power when you watch an animal like this pull meat off a hanging thingie.

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Look at that face!  More like a bear than a dog, yes?  He caught sight of his mates squabbling over some bones over in another part of the enclosure.

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The interesting thing here was that the smaller dog kept whining and what we think must be a growl when the bigger one wanted to take the rack of ribs away.  They did not bite each other, however.  Only the bones.

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The interloper didn’t dive right in between the other two, but waited around the edges without making noise or getting too close.

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The third one circled to investigate, but went back to his steak in a tree.

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The two kept arguing over who would get the rib rack.  Again, neither one bit the other; they only vocalized, (the smaller one did, anyway), and circled around the bones.


Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Wray-Wray’s Namesake – When You Find Your Name on a Camel

Today’s letter in the A to Z Blog Challenge is “C,” for Chicago, and crayons, and calisthenics.  Catherine, cranberries, chocolate, cocoa, and coffee. Coffee, and coffee, and coffee, and …

Ahem, where was I?

Camels!

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As you walk down the path from the North Gate of the Brookfield Zoo, and come around to the right between the butterfly tent and one of the beer sheds, you come to the world-famous Bactrian Camels.  They have two humps.  A one-humped camel is called a dromedary.

And now, for something completely different:  a short limerick, by Ogden Nash:

A one “L” lama is a priest.

A two “L” llama is a beast.

But I would bet my pink pajama

There’s no such thing as a three “L” lllama.

My favorite part about that poem is the footnote from Mr. Nash:  “I received the following response from a reader:  ‘a three “L” lllama is a conflagration.’  To which I say, ‘Pooh.'”

I adore Mr. Nash.

(If that doesn’t make sense, say “three ‘L’ lllama” out loud and think New York City.)

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program:

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There are two camels in the enclosure, and I read that they are both female.

The best part?

One is named Ray-Ray.

Rachel Wilder, my beloved coauthor, has a nickname.  Wray Wray.
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Wait, what?

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Wray Wray.  You know, like the camel.

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Um…

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Of course it’s a good idea!  She has a mascot now!

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I’m not so sure this is a good idea…

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I just won’t tell her then.

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It’s your funeral.

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Why am I carrying on an imaginary conversation with a camel??

Stay tuned tomorrow for Dogs – of the African Wild Variety.


Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Bears Napping, Bears Pacing, Bears, Bears, Bears! B Is For Bears!

There are many bears at the Brookfield Zoo.  There are polar bears, and brown bears, and black sloth bears, not to mention the red pandas over in the Hamill Family Wild Encounters.

Bears are, however, difficult to photograph because their dens have thick Lexan between us and them – which, all things considered, is just as well because I don’t want to be a bear’s dinner.  (The fact I’d love to pet one isn’t really relevant to this particular discussion, and the Encounters I mentioned let you do just that – so that will be on our list to visit next time we head over to the zoo.)

I was able to snap this shot of the snoozing polar bear over the fence.  His face surprised me by how similar it is in appearance to some breeds of dogs.    He looks so cozy here, doesn’t he?

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Is there such a thing as a “bear nap?”  Cats can’t have all the fun, now can they?

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See what I mean about the Lexan here? It’s got a heck of a glare.  I like this shot because it gives you some idea of his size; I’m standing maybe five or six feet away from him.

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He has an interesting ridge on his nose.  It seemed like he was trying to smell something.  In this shot, he more resembles a seal in his facial structure.

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You can really see the resemblance to a dog here.

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I’m disappointed at the glare in this shot, because he looks adorably sleepy.  He had a lie down right after this, but I couldn’t do it justice with the lighting.

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I thought I got several more shots of the brown bear, and now that I’m typing, I’m thinking it may actually be a grizzly?  Not sure.  But this one startled me because of how friggin’ huge he is.  You can’t tell it in this shot, but there are actually two bears in the enclosure, sound asleep.  I couldn’t get the other one to come out with the lighting because they were so shadowed; I’m not sure if thi one is the male or the female.

The ears are adorable, nu?

Totally want to scritch his/her head, too.  Last thing I’d ever do, but omg.  Cute!?

Check back on Monday for C Is For Camel – remember, no post on Sunday!  (Thank you J. K. Rowling for that earwig.)


Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

  • My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.
  • The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.
  • The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!
  • The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from me, Noony; my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder (the Wilder half of Noon & Wilder); the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

My friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and I’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

 

Amur Leopard – For A!

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Welcome to April!  It’s time for the A-Z Challenge, an international blogging challenge that’s been going for a few years now.  My theme this year is the A-Z of the Brookfield Zoo, one of my favorite places in the Chicagoland area.  My husband and I went through the zoo with a fine-toothed comb, looking for animals from A-Z.

This lovely gentleman is the Amur Leopard.  He’s endangered in the wild, so we’re lucky to have him – and Brookfield Zoo participates an international Species Survival Plan for many of the animals that are threatened, endangered, or, sadly, extinct in the wild.

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He moves around a lot, and my camera was not cooperating with me that day.  But what excited me is the fact that he was down off his perch so I could get a good look at him.

Even though his mouth was open, I couldn’t hear any sounds from him.

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just missed catching his face head-on in this shot, but my auto-focus categorically refused to work with me.  I heard the shot snap just when he turned to go back the other way.

Looks close enough to pet, though, doesn’t he?  There’s actually about six inches of clear Lexan (think bullet-proof glass) between the two of us, so he’s safe from being mauled by overly friendly cat people.

Shame, really.

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Will you look at those feet?  Holy retractable claws, Batman.  (Actually I think they can’t retract claws, being big cats?)  He paced for the whole time we watched him, about ten or fifteen minutes.

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In this one, he caught sight of a small boy who was making a lot of noise.  From bored to intent, in an instant.

Probably a good thing there’s netting over the entirety of his enclosure, eh?

Stay tuned tomorrow, when we get to see… Bears!

 

It’s Aliiiive! The Nice Girls Writing Naughty Home on the Web

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The Online Home of the Nice Girls Writing Naughty!

I’m pleased as punch to share with you the brand new home of the Nice Girls Writing Naughty on the web!  From our start as a small group of dedicated authors to where we are today, we’ve grown to a team of friends interested in supporting each and building a great community.  Our popular blog has grown into a full-blown website with more content coming like a bookstore, which will be launching before RT next month.  (RT is the RT Booklovers Convention, this year in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; it’s one of the largest romance-related conventions in the States.)

We also have a popular Facebook group and @NGWNGroup where we welcome interaction from our beloved community of readers.  We wouldn’t be here without you, and we are so grateful to each and every one of you.

Keep your eyes on our blog starting April 1st for the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.  Several of the Nice Girls will be at RT hosting a party, signing books, and with some great giveaways including a signed Michael Stokes book of photography (I WANT this book!).  For those of us not going to RT, don’t worry – we’ll have some great blog content through the awesome folks at TRS Parties and will share pictures from RT, event news, and lots of other great content.

April’s shaping up to be a busy month, Dear Reader, so rest those eyes and get readeh!