Saturday Surprise — Short, Fun Critter Tales

I almost skipped Saturday Surprise this week, for I had another political post ready to go for this morning and really couldn’t seem to get in the mood for anything light-hearted and fun.  And then, something crossed my radar that led to something else, and before long I realized there was something not quite right with my face … the corners of my mouth were turned up instead of down … I was actually smiling!  And thus came the idea for Saturday Surprise that had eluded me earlier in the evening.  So, get ready to smile at these very short, but fun critter tales …

Big cats are kitties too

ArwenJill Hicks was driving home from work when she saw what she thought was a cat run towards the road. Worried that it was alone, she scooped up the little “kitten” and took her home.  After making “Arwen” a cozy bed, she posted a picture on Facebook, asking if anyone would adopt the “bobtail kitten.” It didn’t take long before her neighbor helped her realize that it wasn’t just a kitten with a bobtail, it was actually a bobcat. “Thank the lord for her because I sure was about to put that baby in the sink and give it a bath and put it in bed with me!” Hicks joked on Facebook. Hicks took the soon-to-be-much-bigger kitty to a wildlife rescue who cared for her until she could be released into the wild.

And speaking of big cats …

mr-bMeet Mr. B.  Mr. B. is a big cat, but not a bobcat, leopard, panther, tiger or other wild cat, he’s just a big cat.  My best guess, knowing a bit about felines, is that he is a Maine Coon cat.

“OMG, big boi Mr. B is a CHONK. He’s a chonk of a chonk. He redefines the term. Can you guess how much he weighs? More importantly, can you give him a home?”

When the Morris Animal Refuge posted the above message, alongside a picture of said Mr. B., they were unprepared for how viral the big boy would go. So many people were touched by the massive cat and wanted more information about adopting him that he crashed the shelter’s website. “Mr. B. apologizes for crashing our website. We have our team working to get it back up as we speak. Unfortunately, they’re all cats, so it may take a little while,” they wrote. Happily, he’s since found his forever home.

A deer who is a real dear

It almost sounds like the opening to a fairytale: A lonely old woman who lives in a secluded cabin in the woods is visited every day by a magnificent stag who rewards her for her unselfish deeds. But this is 100 percent real life!deer-1Mette Kvam, 81, of Norway, had recently suffered the loss of her husband and was trying to adjust to living alone when one day she noticed a deer at her window. She fed him a piece of bread and immediately a friendship was born. “Flippen” now comes to visit her daily. She makes sure to always keep his favorite bread on hand and he keeps her company. She says he has saved her from loneliness and she loves nothing more than to feed and visit with him.

And speaking of animal buddies …

Buzz-1Tough, tattooed, and burly, Mark Cardenaz is probably the last person you’d describe as “Dr. Doolittle” but that’s exactly how friends describe the ex SWAT officer. So, no one was surprised when he took in an injured hummingbird he found on his back porch, nursing “Buzz” back to health with Pedialyte and sugar for six weeks. But that’s not where the story ends. After he released Buzz back into the wild he thought he’d never see his little buddy again but every year the bird flies from South America back to Cardenaz’s home in Georgia and lands in his hand. This year, Cardenaz worried something had happened when Buzz didn’t show up at his usual time but several weeks later, there he was, flitting around his head and begging for pets.

Seeing-eye cat?

After Terfel, an eight-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever in North Wales, U.K., developed cataracts in 2012, he began to bump into walls and furniture. Soon enough, the once-energetic dog was spending most of his time in his dog bed, unable to find his way around.

TerfelOn a whim, Terfel’s owner Judy Godfrey-Brown let a stray cat, whom she named Pwditat (pronounced Puddy-tat), into her home. The feline made a beeline for the blind dog and began using its paws and head to herd Terfel into the garden. Now the unlikely friends sleep together, and Pwditat helps Terfel find his way everywhere.

An inseparable bond

toldoA sprig of acacia, paper towels, and a plastic cup are just a few of the gifts that Toldo, a devoted gray-and-white cat, has placed on his former owner Iozzelli Renzo’s grave in Montagnana, Italy, every day since the man died. Renzo adopted Toldo from a shelter when the cat was three months old, and the two formed an inseparable bond. After Renzo passed away, Toldo followed the coffin to the cemetery, and now “stands guard” at the grave for hours at a time, says Renzo’s family.

Now to wrap up with a cute animal video about a baby squirrel who adopted a human family …

I hope that at least one of these stories, all of which, except the video, came from Readers Digest, by the way, has brought a smile to your face this morning.  And now, as I bid you adieu, I wish you a fun and happy weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Avian Humour

I must admit that I nearly forgot that today is Saturday.  There’s a reason for this … no, I’m not losing all my marbles, only a few of them.  See, daughter Chris was off from work yesterday (Friday), which made it feel like Saturday all day, for she’s never home on Friday.  So, since I thought it was Saturday all day long, when I sat down to write this morning’s post, I wasn’t thinking about Saturday Surprise, and I had another post about half completed when a little birdie tapped into my mind and said, “Yo!  It’s Saturday, not Sunday!”  And so, I changed gears, but with some difficulty.  Since it was already midnight and I had no plan, I must settle for some funny bird pictures I found over at Bored Panda.  Hopefully, they will at least make you smile a bit.



Proud momma bird with newly hatched baby


A warm place to be



Eh … not even big enough for a snack


Caught one of those alien drone birds!



Photobombed by an owl!



Bees???  What bees?



Oh that’s gonna hurt!


Apologies for such a short Saturday Surprise, but I do hope that you enjoyed the birds!  And one last treat … I love owls, and I came across this video of some really adorable owls!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!!!Weekend

Saturday Surprise — National Pollinator Week!

Saturday Surprise has been on hiatus for a few weeks, and likely would have remained so this week, but for our friend Ellen who gave me a heads-up that this week, the week of June 22 – June 28, happens to be National Pollinator Week!  Once I knew that, I felt compelled to share it with you, and I thought it might be fun for us all.

bumblebee on flowerIf you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘pollinator’ is the bee.  And rightfully so, as there are 20,000 bee species in the world, many of them hearty pollinators without whom our food supply would be in serious trouble.  But they aren’t the only animals moving pollen from the stamen of one flower to the stigma of another. Earth is home to a host of weird and unusual pollinators that ensure both food crops and wild flowering plants complete their life cycle.  Let’s take a look at a few …

Take the chocolate midges — small flies no bigger than poppy seeds, and the primary pollinators of cacao plants. The intricate petals of the dime-sized flowers curl down over the plant’s stamen where the pollen is made, making it difficult for larger pollinators to access. It takes many midges to gather pollen and fertilize another flower. They toil away at dusk and dawn and prefer dense shady rainforest habitats like those in the Amazon basin. Without them, chocolate would be much harder to come by.


Chocolate Midge

Or how about the clearwing hummingbird moths that hover in front of long-necked flowers, where they unroll their long tongues, insert them inside and sip the nectar, collecting pollen as they go. With their yellowish-brown or green and black bodies, and (often) clear, red-framed wings that sound like their namesake, people are sometimes confused by what they are looking at.


Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

But insects aren’t the only pollinators.  There are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds worldwide, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. With its bright green, red, blue, orange and yellow plumage, one that really stands out is the rainbow lorikeet, native to Australia and Indonesia. While sipping nectar from flowers like those of the yellow gum, pollen attaches to their foreheads and throat, and even to tiny fingers on their tongue called papillae where it hitches a ride to the next flower.

And mammals can also be pollinators.  Now, a lot of people don’t like bats, and admittedly I don’t like anything flying into my face, or getting tangled in my hair, but I think bats are cute.


Bats are responsible for pollinating over 500 plant species, including types of mango, banana, durian, guava and agave (used to make tequila). Bats work at night and are attracted to pale flowers, unlike many of their daytime colleagues. Some, like the Mexican long-tongued bat, are really specialized for the job with a long skinny tongue that can reach into tube-shaped flowers.


Mexican long-tongued bat

And then there’s the ruffed lemur, a black and white primate from Madagascar, that gets pollen on its snout while gorging on nectar from traveler’s palms.


Ruffed Lemur

Even lizards pollinate. The sleek Noronha skink of the island Fernando de Noronha off of northeastern Brazil appears to pollinate mulungu trees, known for their fabulously weird orangey-pink flowers. Pollen collects on its scales when it’s sipping nectar and brushes up against the flowers’ stamens. The same is thought to be true of snow skinks in Tasmania, who get pollen on their scales after tearing apart the peachy red flowers of the Richea scoparia plant.


Noronha Skink

The list of non-bee pollinators goes on and on, including slugs, butterflies, wasps and many species of beetles. And those are just the ones we know about—scientists are still discovering new connections between plants and the animals that help them reproduce. And with bees so vulnerable to environmental change, a better appreciation of all pollinators and the roles they play will be essential to better crop management and the protection of wild plants in the future.

Now about National Pollinator Week.  In recognition of the significance of a stable pollinator population, the Pollinator Partnership (formerly the Coevolution Institute) collaborating with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, established the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) in 1999.  Their goals were to …

  • coordinate local, national, and international projects in the areas of pollinator research, education and awareness, conservation and restoration, policies and practices, and partnership initiatives,
  • aid communication among stakeholders, build coalitions, and leverage existing resources,
  • demonstrate a positive measurable impact on the populations and health of pollinating animals within five years.

And in 2006, the U.S. Senate passed a Resolution to protect pollinators and designated the first National Pollinator Week as June 24–30, 2007.  The U.S. Postal Service even got in on the act and issued a “Pollination” stamp series released in June 2007.

So, what can we do?  Bees are still the most common pollinator for most of us, and the bee population, as I have written before, is in serious trouble.  Miss Goose and I have planted bee-friendly flower seeds in our tiny front yard, and there is a flower/plant that just popped up a couple of years ago in the front of our yard that is home to both caterpillars and bees.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a list of 7 things that most any of us can do to help the pollinators:


  1. Use pollinator-friendly plants in your landscape. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, plum, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
  2. Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and fall. Different flower colors, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and even window boxes.
  3. Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly.
  4. Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  5. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
  6. Leave dead tree trunks, also called “snags,” in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  7. Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about other pollinators and enjoyed the pictures.  Now, get out there and plant some bee-friendly flowers … it’s not too late!  Have a great weekend, my friends!bee-thumbs-up

Saturday Surprise — Creativity!

I couldn’t decide on which of two things to do for today’s Saturday Surprise:  balloons or sand.  So, I decided to give you a taste of both!

Andoni Bastarrika discovered his talent ten years ago, in the summer of 2010 while at the beach with his two daughters.  He was playing around, trying to sculpt from sand a little mermaid for his girls, when he discovered he had a gift for sculpting with sand, a unique fluidity of his hands.  Says Bastarrika …

“They knew what they were doing. I devoted myself to developing this gift and have spent the last 10 years doing just that.  The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn. In order to create a sculpture, an unthinkable number of sand particles participate, hugging each other tightly through humidity, so that someone could model their union. And once the artist steps back, its piece will remain at the mercy of nature, meaning that sooner or later the wind will dry them up and release each particle, slowly consuming all the individuality and authenticity.”


“The time it takes to create one piece largely depends on its size. The elephant, for example, took me 2 days, while the horse and the bison took 12 hours each. The dogs, which were smaller, needed about 6 to 8 hours.”


“There are a lot of reasons why I like to make animal sculptures as well, but one is the fact that animals are free spirits. Humans can reflect and learn from them.”


Now, those of you who say you’re bored these days, being confined to quarters with nothing much to do, here’s something for you to spend some time on … balloon art!  We’ve all been to a fair or street carnival where there’s a man blowing up narrow balloons and turning them into rather simplistic dogs, or other critters, but Japanese artist Masayoshi Matsumoto has taken balloon art to a whole new level.


Like the sand artist Bastarrika, Mr. Matsumoto has been perfecting his craft for about ten years now.

“My creations are one hundred percent balloon-only. I don’t use any adhesive, marker pens, or anything else.”


“A lot of my work revolves around nature because I’ve been fascinated with it since I was very young.”


Matsumoto says his sculptures aren’t products of spontaneity; they’re the offspring of careful and deliberate planning. Once he’s done designing a particular piece, Matsumoto usually spends 2-5 hours blowing and twisting the balloons.


Okay, folks, get some balloons and let’s see what you can do!  I’ll feature any and all pictures that you guys send me … c’mon … you can do it!

Okay, friends, time for you to get to those weekend chores … mowing the yard, and after all of last week’s rain, the gutters probably need cleaning!  Whatever you do this weekend, keep safe and find time to enjoy life.

Saturday Surprise — Beautiful Birds!

Good Saturday morning and welcome to the Weekend!  Yeah, yeah … I know … weekends aren’t a whole lot different than weekdays lately, but still … we can find some fun things to do!  For me, it’ll be laundry!!!  WHOO HOO!!!  Damn, it just doesn’t get much more exciting, does it?  I feel my heart racing already!  But, to kick off the weekend, I have what I hope will be a treat for you … some rare and beautiful birds!

Meet the Secretary BirdSecretary-bird-1Just look at those lashes!!!  This beauty is actually a bird of prey usually found in the open grasslands and savanna of the sub-Saharan region of Africa.  Watch her strut her stuff …Secretary-bird-2There is no consensus about how the Secretary Bird got its name, but it is thought to derive from the crest of feathers. These quill-like feathers give the appearance of a secretary with quill pens tucked behind his/her ears.  Look out, though, for this bird has quite a temper!Secretary-bird-3

Now there can be no question where this one got its name … it commemorates the British monarch Queen Victoria, though in my book, no human can even come close to the beauty of this bird.Victoria-1The Victoria crowned pigeon is found in the lowland and swamp forests of northern New Guinea and surrounding islands and is rated as ‘Near Threatened’ on the list of Threatened Species.

Here’s yet another ‘crowned’ pigeon, this one the Blue Crowned Pigeon … look at that vibrant shade of blue!Blue-crownedLike its cousin above, it is found in the rainforests of New Guinea and is ranked ‘Vulnerable’ on the list of Threatened Species.

Say ‘hello’ to this Red Adavadat aka the Strawberry Finch, for obvious reasons.Strawberry-finch]These guys are found in the open fields and grasslands of tropical Asia and is popular as a cage bird due to the colourful plumage of the males in their breeding season. It breeds in the Indian Subcontinent in the monsoon season.

The wings and tailfeathers of the Tilhi almost look like they were painted on by a cartoonist!TilhiAlso known as the Bohemian Waxwing, it is found in the northern forests of the Palearctic and North America. It has mainly buff-grey plumage, black face markings and a pointed crest. Its wings are patterned with white and bright yellow, and some feather tips have the red waxy appearance that give this species its English name.Tilhi-wing

This next one is a Black-Throated Bushtit, a very small bird, remarkable mainly because of its colourful plumage.BushtitIt spans a swath starting at the foothills of the Himalayas, stretching across northern India through north-eastern Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, northern Myanmar, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

The Rufous-Crested Coquette is actually a species of hummingbird!CoquetteIt is found mostly in tropical or sub-tropical regions of South America.

This is the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, the national bird of Peru. Cock-of-the-rockThe male has a large disk-like crest and scarlet or brilliant orange plumage, while the female is significantly darker and browner.  What the heck is it with Mother Nature and the female of nearly every species.  The males get all the bright colours, and we get stuck taking care of the babies.  No fair!

Well, folks, I’m sorry this is a bit shorter than my usual Saturday fare, but I’m just about out of energy tonight.  I hope you enjoyed the beautiful birds and that you find something fun to do this weekend … remember, if all else fails, there’s always laundry!  Live dangerously … try folding those towels a different way just to see if anybody even notices!

Saturday Surprise — Socks ‘n Critters!

I keep hearing people say they’re having trouble keeping up with what day it is, since they all rather run together anymore.  So, as a public service, I would like to inform you that today is Saturday, the 9th of May, in the year 2020.  But that’s not all!  Today is also … {drumroll} … {‘nother drumroll} …

National Lost Sock Memorial Day!!!  No, I’m not kidding … it really is!  According to the National Day Calendar people, National Lost Sock Memorial Day is time to say “good-bye” to all of the single socks, the ones where their mates have been lost to the unknown. Where do all the missing socks go? Is there a washing machine heaven? This is a question people have been trying to solve for many centuries.  An answer may never be found to this problem, and life will go on.  How sad to have lost such a close-knit friend!SockAnd they have some suggestions for how to celebrate this special day …

  • making sock puppets
  • turn them into dust rags
  • chose to never wear matched socks again
  • turn them into chew toys for pets
  • make wrist warmers
  • make sock monkeys
  • fill them with beans and use them for your corn hole game
  • fill with rice and make a door stop
  • open up both ends of a long sock and make a plastic bag holder

You know how I love critters and I’m always on the lookout for unique critters we may not have ever seen or heard of.  I’ve done a couple of posts highlighting the strange and unique specimens from the animal world, and I thought I had just about covered most of the really unique ones, but last night I came across a few that were new to me!

This guy is a Shoebill Stork, known for his bill that resembles … a shoe, though in my 68 years, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a shoe that looked quite like that! shoebill-storkShoebills are abnormally tall, with some individuals reaching heights of over 4 feet. And, unlike many others birds who inhabit similar marsh environments, shoebills are highly effective predators. Their long legs are perfect for traversing shallow waters, where they prey on reptiles, rodents and fish. They are even known to strike against juvenile crocodiles!

Shoebills use their powerful beaks to grasp and strangle just about anything they encounter, but don’t worry – they don’t prey on humans. Find one in East Africa, where their habitat is concentrated.

Now, bears in and of themselves are not necessarily all that unique, though I find them to be beautiful animals and enjoy seeing them.  But the Sun Bear is a bit different than your average bear. sun-bearSun bears are the smallest bears in the world, with many adults weighing under 100 pounds. But what really makes them stand out is their unusually long tongues, which can measure up to nine inches. Also known as “honey bears,” sun bears climb trees to find honeycomb, and their tongues come in handy when they lick out their loot.

Unfortunately, deforestation is contributing to population declines. But you can still find sun bears in southeast Asia where, unlike their North American cousins, they thrive in tropical forest environments. The Islands of Sumatra and Borneo are particularly good places to access their habitat.

This guy is a Lyrebird …lyrebirdLyrebirds could easily win a talent show for their ability to mimic sounds in their environment.

True, this trait exists in other birds, but lyrebirds take things to a whole new level. They can imitate just about any sound, including industrial equipment and power tools.

Found in Australia, the birds are also known for their flamboyant mating displays; the males show off their long tail feathers while dancing and using their superb vocal abilities to attract mates.

Stick to the rainforest zones of Queensland and New South Wales to find them, or head to Tasmania, where they were introduced artificially but have since repropogated and established populations.

Why is it that when it comes to birds, the male gets all the bright colours and unique characteristics, while the females are comparatively drab?  Seems rather sexist to me, but at any rate … the Long-Wattled Umbrella Bird is no exception.  The female is rather ho-hum, but the male has long wattles – flabby hunks of skin, also seen on turkeys – extending from their necks. More amazing still, they can control their wattles, retracting or extending them as desired during flight or while sitting stationary.umbrella-birdThe wattles are especially odd considering they have no official purpose outside of potential courtship displays.

The birds have protected habitat areas where numbers are strong, but deforestation in unprotected areas serves as a threat to their habitat and population density. Spot them in parts of Ecuador and throughout southwest Colombia, where they are heavily concentrated.

I bet you can’t guess what this one is …sea-penIt’s called a Sea Pen and it is an invertebrate that anchors on the seafloor.  That in itself is not all that uncommon, but what makes the Sea Pen unique is that they look like an old-fashioned quill pen. For another, they behave in a completely remarkable way.

Sea pens colonize in groups and, when stimulated, light up, displaying a bright green light on the seafloor. It looks like someone flipped on a light switch, especially when groups emit light in sequence.

You can find these light displays in the Pacific Ocean, from the Gulf of Alaska to California. Sea pens live at depths of over 40 feet but often under 250 feet. When diving, look for mud and sandy-bottom sections of the ocean floor to spot them.

I hope you enjoyed the unique critters, and now I shall end with a cute animal video … cutest hedgehog I’ve seen!

Now, you guys know what you need to do, right?  What???  You’ve forgotten already?  You need to go through your sock drawer and deal with those lonely unmatched socks!  Then proceed to have a great weekend!socks

Saturday Surprise — Fateme Hamami Nasrabadi

Ahhhh … finally the weekend!  Two days off from the office grind, time to go out and shop and … oh, wait a minute … sigh.  The weekend.  But, I hope to start the weekend by bringing a bit of awe and a smile to your face today, for I have discovered a remarkable artist and I think you will be amazed!

Fateme Hamami Nasrabadi is a 31-year-old Iranian artist who has done some amazing paintings, including portraits of her favorite celebrities, including Portuguese football player, Cristiano Ronaldo …Ronaldo

My own preference are the ones with critters (surprised, aren’t you?)

orange-catpolar-bearsWhat you might not guess from looking at her art is that Fateme is paralyzed over 85% of her body, her limbs misshapen and largely of no use, and her art is done using only one foot!


foot-drawing-2Besides her favorite football icons, such as Lionel Messi and Iranian star Ali Daei, Fatemeh has painted many other national and world-famous celebrities, such as Iranian actors Mehran Modiri, Dariush Arjomand, Jamshid Mashayekhi, Parviz Parastui, iconic comedian Charlie Chaplin, and pop star Selena Gomez among others.

Fateme“I love face painting. When I want to draw a portrait, I start with a curve and round the human face for the begining to design. This is the law of face painting. The biggest challenge for me is that I have 85% disability and that makes it very difficult for me to paint. I only work with one of my legs. I have been interested in painting and drawing since I was a child and I tried very hard to get here! I am happy and thankful that my efforts were worth it and now I am happy that I did not disappoint. I want to become so famous that everyone who comes to Iran comes to me and see my work.”

It comes as no surprise that Fateme has held many exhibitions of her works in and around Tehran. Her ultimate dream is to own an art gallery of her own and become world famous.  My guess is she’s well on her way, with nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram and her painting of Ronaldo having received widespread media attention.

Folks … I tell you, I’ve got two perfectly (well, relatively) good hands, functional eyes, can walk wherever I need to on my two relatively good legs, and I could not come close to drawing as Ms. Nasrabadi does.  This afternoon, I left off a few of the house chores I normally do on Friday because I was tired and in a bit of pain.  Damn, do I feel like a wuss now!  Next time any of us think about saying we “can’t” do something for whatever reason, perhaps we should remember Fateme Hamami Nasrabadi and the odds she has overcome to create such beautiful art.


Now go find something fun to do and have a happy weekend, my friends!weekend

Saturday Surprise — Critter Photography!

Good Saturday morn, my friends!  Today, being rather disgusted with humans in general, we’re going to take a journey into the animal kingdom!  You might want to don your jackets for this one …

Each year, a special event takes place in the Wapusk National  Park in Canada. From mid-February to mid-March, the polar bears reemerge from their caves and winter slumber. Mother bears carefully surface with their four-month-old cubs, so they can take their first steps. This is the first time these little ones get to feel the sun’s warmth, even though its sub-zero temps are enough to keep most humans from making a trek.  With one exception …

Conservation photographer Daisy Gilardini, who specializes in the Polar Regions with a particular emphasis on Antarctic wildlife and North American bears. She is from Switzerland originally, and is now based in Vancouver, Canada.

CHL000267.jpgPolar Bears sparringShe started to take photography seriously following a trip to India in 1989. Since then, she has visited more than 70 countries, camera in hand. She fell in love with Antarctica during her first trip there in 1997. She has since devoted most of her time to photographing the Polar Regions. In 20 years of polar exploration, she has joined more than 80 expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic. Among her accomplishments, she has skied the final degree to the North Pole.

Polar-4Polar Bear cub playingPolar-6During the past 11 years, she has roamed extensively through bear country, from the Great Bear Rainforest in her home province of British Columbia to Alaska and the high Arctic. During the course of her photographic travels she has documented the challenges facing North America’s bears, including the black bear, Kermode, grizzly and polar bear.

Polar Bears huggingPolar Bear mother with cubsPolar Bear mother with cubGilardini’s images have been published internationally in leading magazines such as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Canadian Geographic, Nature’s Best and Outdoor Photography. Her images have also been used by high-profile NGOs such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, among others.

Potrait of Polar BearPolar Bear mother with cubsCHL000402jpg

And check out this …

But it isn’t only polar bears that Ms. Gilardini photographs.  Her gallery features penguins, seals, brown bears, black bears, and “others”, some of which are rather strange (though not near as strange as those mask-wearing humans these days)!

I love the penguins …


And the seals …

White coatANS00436.jpgWhitecoat harp seal pup

Spirit Bears and Black Bears …

black-1Spirit bear on a treeSpirit bear sleeping in the forestSpirit bear closeup

Spirit bear mother with black cub scouting river side in search of dead salmons

Humans could take a lesson from these two!

And a few of the ‘other’ …


I am fascinated … amazed … at Ms. Gilardini’s skill.  What concentration and patience it must take to capture some of these shots!  If you like these, go check out her website where you’ll find much, much more!  She has an entire African gallery that is great!

Well, folks, that’s a wrap for this morning.  Have a decent weekend … get outdoors and enjoy nature … take some of your own nature photography!

Saturday Surprise — Banksy

This week I discovered a new artist!  His name is Banksy, and according to Wikipedia …

Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.

Now, I happen to love street art, or graffiti if it is creative and done well, and Banksy’s is both.  Take a look for yourself …



banksy-10Banksy started as a freehand graffiti artist in 1990–1994 as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with two other artists known as Kato and Tes.  By 2000 he had turned to the art of stenciling after realizing how much less time it took to complete a work. He claims he changed to stenciling while hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed the stenciled serial number.  Banksy’s art can be found all over the world, from Paris to New Orleans (header photo) … wherever there’s a wall!


Banksy’s first known large wall mural was The Mild Mild West painted in 1997 to cover advertising of a former solicitors’ office on Stokes Croft in Bristol. It depicts a teddy bear lobbing a Molotov cocktail at three riot police.


Banksy, like nearly a third of all the people on the globe, is mostly stuck at home these days, but just like a singer’s gotta sing, a writer’s gotta write, an artist’s gotta make art.  So, Banksy made good use of the venue at hand, and … this is the result!


I hear his wife was none too happy about the state of the bathroom, but … small price to pay for such a cool scene, don’t you think?  Easy for me to say, since I’m not the one who will ultimately have to clean the bathroom!  Take a closer look …


Okay, friends, try to have a good weekend … get outside, go for a walk, see the buds popping out on the trees, maybe even take some bread crumbs along to feed the birds and squirrels!

Saturday Surprise — Strange & Unique Critters!

Good Saturday morning, friends and welcome to the …weekendI’m sure you must all have big plans for the weekend, perhaps watching the grass grow, or something equally exciting.  Well, let me start your weekend off with some cute and unique critters!  I’ve heard that there have been sightings recently of animals never before seen by humans … let’s take a look, shall we?







Heh heh heh … APRIL FOOL!!!  These are actually photo-shopped creations by Norwegian electronics engineer, Arne Olav Gurvin Fredriksen.

A project that started purely as a hobby, Fredriksen began making his photo manipulations in 2012.

“Me and a friend were joking about how weird and harmless guinea pigs are, so I started mixing them with other animals just for fun with the Photoshop experience I had. This was right in the exam period, so I needed some pauses from studying. The pictures became quite popular, so I continued making some in 2013. Then I had a break for several years, and in the past years, I’ve picked up the hobby again.”









Fredriksen engages his audience in his entertaining hobby by letting them suggest and pick names for the new surreal creatures and most of them are spot on and almost as funny as the pictures.

“At the beginning I named my animals myself. But when posting the pictures on the web, people would almost always write comments with better name suggestions. That gave me the idea to let everyone suggest names and then vote between the best ones. I think it’s really fun to see the names people come up with, as they’re very creative.”


























You can see a whole ‘nother set if you head over to Bored Panda!   Now that you’ve (hopefully) started the weekend with a bit of a chuckle, have a good rest-of-the-weekend … get outside and go for a walk, observe nature, breathe the fresh air … and who knows, perhaps you’ll even spot a unique critter!