Baby Robin

(Toledo, OH) I thought some exotic migratory bird landed in my lilac tree this afternoon, as the loud "SKREEEEEK" that the bird made sounded unlike any of the regular avian guests who hang around my house. Yet after locating the source of the unusual sound, I discovered that this was merely a baby robin, perched on a branch and perhaps calling for its mother.

I never saw the bird fly, but it ambled around the branches with a fair amount of dexterity. Assuming that it does not fall from its perch, it should be ready to take flight in the next few days.


Puggle at Dusk

(Toledo, OH) The late evening sun popped out from behind my garage, and my Puggle Eddie Haskell basked for a few moments in the fading light. The image came out with some bluish hues from the sharp contrast between the sunny foreground and the heavily shaded grass, but I liked the overall effect.

There is almost a three-dimensional quality to the image, and Eddie's head sort of jumps off the screen at the viewer. Especially if the viewer is stoned, but even for us sober folks.


Majestic White Oak

(Toledo, OH) The white oak pictured on your left can be viewed at Wildwood Preserve in West Toledo. It stands off to the edge of a 20-acre meadow that serves as home to innumerable birds, mammals, and reptiles, and standing near the tree reminds me of a scene from a place like the Serengeti.

Except for the lack of gazelles, zebras, and lions, that is.


Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

(Toledo, OH) I heard a bird call while walking through Wildwood Preserve this evening that was complex and beautiful, and it took me quite a few minutes to catch a decent image of the bird, ensconced as it was about 125 feet in a tree. After returning home and consulting one of my bird guides, I learned that this was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

I endeavor to keep both eyes and ears attuned for the bird in future visits to Wildwood.

Susan's Meadow, Wildwood

(Toledo, OH) I came across a peaceful space while wandering through Wildwood Preserve this morning. The meadow is named after Susan Horvath, who once served as Metroparks president.

In the foreground are lavender-hued wildflowers, which add a pleasant aroma to the air if you stand downwind. In a brief tour of the trees that ring the meadow, I saw a Baltimore oriole, some finches, a scarlet tanager, and a downy woodpecker. Unfortunately, the poor light from the gray skies overhead dulled all the bird images I collected, and even the Baltimore oriole came out looking grayish-yellow.

I will return soon on a sunny afternoon, perhaps even later today, to see if the better light will be more conducive for bird-watching and avian photography.


Web of Yponomeuta padella, the Orchard Ermine

(Romulus, MI) Pictured on your left is the communal web (or massed cocoon) of the Orchard ermine, a moth that produces larvae that can be rather destructive on trees. As the larvae mature, they turn into caterpillars that feast on the leaves of the tree to which they are affixed (in this case, an apple tree).

As a kid I used to creep out my sister by chasing her with a pulsating section of soon-to-be-free caterpillars. I suspect that I did not earn positive karma with these actions.


Statue of Pope Pius XII

(Fatima, Portugal) Last summer my wife took this image of a statue of the late Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, better known as Pope Pius XII. There is considerable historical debate about the positions Pius XII took on the Jews and the emerging Holocaust during the Second World War.

Perhaps Pius XII was justified in protecting the Church from the Nazis in his general neutrality and avoidance of conflict with the Nazis. However, his unwillingness to take a stand on such antisemitic policies as those of Vichy puppet ruler Marshal Philippe P├ętain are an embarrassment to the Church.

Anyways, I found the statue to be a work of aesthetic beauty, even if the wartime silence of Pius XII on the slaughter of the Jews is regrettable and disturbing.


Finding an Olive Tree

While perusing through some images stored on my wife's digital camera, I came across a picture she took of me. Up to this point, I had been unable to fulfill an urge to stand under an olive tree and pick a ripe olive.

In fact, prior to finding an old, neglected olive grove on the road to Sintra, Portugal, I had been unable to find even a single olive tree. Unfortunately, this was not the time of year to pick olives, and guess what: they do not grow with those red pimento dealios in the middle.

Go figure.