Nature’s Gems Gift Fair

See bees and trees, dogs and frogs, hawks and rocks, geese and fleece, ducks and bucks, and bugs on flowering shrubs. 

Holiday Coyote

Holiday Coyote

Please join me for a relaxing afternoon and view my new wildlife and nature photography from disappearing locales, such as Owen’s Poultry Farm, Rosemary Lake and the Needham RTS. See autumn splendor on the Charles River and the South Natick Dam, plus green and blue herons, coyote, egrets, squirrels, dragon flies and common birds you barely notice displaying awesome plumage. (Sample shots below.)

When: Saturday, November 21

Location: 5 Chambers St., Needham MA 
(Across from the High Rock School off Linden St.) 

Time: 12 to 4:30 PM

Kristen Culver from Mary Kay will showcase gift baskets. Also on hand will be Sheila Clark cards and household goods, games, vinyl, DVDs, and some gently used items from Ross Donald. 

Items to purchase include  limited editions of my 2016 Nature Calendar and Hector The Heron children’s book, 5 x 7 cards, fine art prints in many sizes (framed and unframed), magnets and placemats.

Please remember, you can always order custom cards and prints for your office walls, clients and friends!

A comment on this page would be most welcome to let me know you stopped in to see my shots! Thank you!

Click a circle below to see full image.



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Aged Rosemary Resident Rescued from Drain Pipe

Update 5/11/15: Received email that the captions incorrectly identified the attending policeman. It was Office Palmer, not Officer Kelleher. Article and captions corrected! Turtle health update at the end of article.

Officer Carrying Turtle

On Monday, May 4th, I witnessed the tail end of a rescue from a drainpipe at Rosemary Lake. A resident had reported that a turtle was stuck in a pipe on the side of the lake. Due to the annual lake draining and the turtle posing as a plug, the Needham Public Works Department was alerted along with the local police and animal control.

When I got there, the 45-pound Common Snapping Turtle had been extricated from the pipe by Police Office Palmer and three DPW workers. Animal Control Officer Danielle Landry told me it had been there at least 24 hours, but she couldn’t ascertain its condition. While they thought the turtle was still breathing, no one could be certain, until it moved ever so slightly. Officer Palmer, with limited past experience with turtles, did his best to assess the creature’s condition and made sure it had no obvious wounds.

(I could not help with the turtle, so I thought it best I document the rescue with my trusty Nikon camera and Sigma lens. There seems to be one small facial wound, as can be seen in the third picture, but other health issues plagued the poor turtle from being stuck in the pipe for so many hours.)

Note to Readers: Please click on the photos to see a larger version and please click the link in the last paragraph to help support the medical care for this rescued reptile! 

Rescued Snapping Turtle

Officer Palmer Offers Comfort to Rescued Snapping Turtle

Checking Turtle for Wounds

Officer Palmer Checks the Turtle for Wounds

On his way home, a good neighbor stopped to help and provided the town staff with a ladder to aid in the rescue. Kiko Bracker and his daughter Story also conveyed the massive snapping turtle to the hospital. (A short video, presumably taken by Story Bracker, appears in the Gallery on the donation site, linked below.) Bracker isn’t just your typical nice guy, he also happens to be the Co-Director of Emergency & Critical Care at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. Alas, turtles are not his specialty, so he could not determine the turtle’s condition either.

Is the Turtle Breathing?

Is the Turtle Breathing?

After wrestling the turtle through the fence around the lake, Officer Palmer and Dr. Bracker moved the weighty Snapping Turtle to Bracker’s car trunk. Bracker insisted he personally transport the ailing animal to the hospital to be seen by wildlife specialists at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton, MA.

Moving Turtle Under Fence

Wrestling Rescued Snapper Through Fence

Turtle Seems Pleased with Rescue

Turtle Seems Pleased with Rescue

Checking for Pulse

Officers Palmer and Landry Check for Pulse

Ready for Transport

Snapping Turtle Ready for Transport to Hospital

Later that night, after the trip to the hospital, Dr. Bracker said that the turtle was alive, but had a slow heart rate and that the Tufts Wildlife Clinic would keep it overnight for observation and treatment. The Snapping Turtle’s condition was listed as “guarded” and they are doing their best to save its life. It was put on a ventilator overnight, but was breathing on its own when I called Tuesday afternoon.

If it survives it will be brought back to Rosemary Lake. As of late Wednesday, Dr. Bracker wrote that “He is doing much better and is predicted to live!” The turtle is “decades old” said Dr. Bracker and is probably much older than its weight the Tufts staff estimates it is at least 70 years old. (Common Snapping Turtles can live up to 100 years.) There are a few large snapping turtles in Rosemary Lake, which I saw in the drained lake on Tuesday and Wednesday. Under normal circumstances, one should never approach or handle these reptiles, because they move surprisingly fast and can deliver a limb severing bite.

Dr. Bracker noted that Tufts provides the treatment of injured wild animals at its own expense. They estimate the cost for our male Common Snapping Turtle to be around $3000. According to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic staff, “This includes daily care under critical level, radiographs, medications (pain, antibiotics, respiratory stimulants), cultures, fluid therapy, [and] blood work.”

If you could see to help with our aged not so-Common Snapping Turtle’s treatment costs, please donate any amount you can afford. Please make donations  on a special page set up by Dr. Kiko and Story Bracker with Kara Holmquist, MSPCA Director of Advocacy, on the YouCaring site: Help cover the Needham Snapping Turtle’s veterinary care! You can also donate online through the wildlife fund on the Tufts University web site. Go to the Tuft University’s Give Now site  and choose Cummings Veterinary School and when “Select an Area” appears, choose the Wildlife Program. You can dedicate your gift to Needham’s turtle or make it a Mother’s Day gift!

The Needham staff and the Brackers deserve much credit and a generous thank you for the gentle care and handling of this delicate wildlife emergency.

New gifUpdate 5/11/15: The Tufts Wildlife Clinic told me that our turtle still has respiratory issues with a lot of gurgling sounds. He’s doing okay considering his ordeal. Dr. Bracker wrote on Saturday (5/9) that they have him in a  “huge Rubbermaid basin with some water and a towel to sit on. He was covered up for peace and quiet.  When he feet were touched he pulled them in and hissed like he meant business.”

Donations received are about 1/4 of the amount needed, so please help, if you can afford it!

Turtle Immediately After Rescue

Turtle Immediately After Rescue

Should We Give this Male Common Snapping Turtle a Name? If yes, please make a suggestion in the comments. Dr. Bracker noted on the donation site that the highest donor will get to name the turtle!

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Ilene’s Car Blizzard Tips

Let me first bestow upon everyone a very Happy New Year!

New Year Card

A healthy sized winter storm looks like it’s approaching the Boston area on Tuesday (1/27/15).  It’s always good to make sure you are safe and sound in any hazardous weather event. Below I’ve included my list for items you should keep in your car in the winter that I’ve developed over years of driving.


My shot of a blizzard on or around Jan. 26 2006. This one didn’t make any record books!

While you should make sure your car is prepped with a full tank of gas, washer fluid, good battery, jumper cables and correctly inflated tires, there are other items you should carry for safety. Always charge your phone and iOS devices before you leave. If you have to drive in a storm, over preparation, is better than under preparation.


February 2013 Snowstorm

Prep your car in the winter by carrying the following items, especially if you know you have to drive in a snowstorm:

  1. Flashlight
  2. Spare Gloves (mittens are even better)
  3. Spare Coat (You can pick one up at a used clothing store or call me if you’re local.)
  4. Spare Hat and scarf
  5. Foot and Hand warmers
  6. Sturdy ice scraper
  7. Shovel – small and strong
  8. Blanket
  9. Bottle(s) of water (don’t leave in car when you exit car for the night)
  10. Cheese or peanut butter cracker packages
  11. Rock salt, sand, or some other ice melt  (I usually carry 3 coffee cans full of it.)
  12. A spare pair of boots – it doesn’t hurt to toss them into the car
  13. Windex and paper towels
  14. Duct tape – always carry duct tape! 😉

I also keep hand wipes, ear muffs, neoprene or turtle fur face mask, and pen or pencil and paper in my car.

While other people don’t usually carry the following things, I do because one never knows. I have a good sized trunk and often stop for photo opps. As my friend Barry always says, I will fill to capacity any empty space allowed to me!

  • Mat, like you’d use for camping
  • Foam or rubber seat cushion
  • Folding chair
  • Spare tripod

Another shot taken February 2013.

 Please stay safe and warm!

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Suburbs Gone Wild Photo Exhibit and Gift Fair Invitation

I am producing a Suburbs Gone Wild Photo Exhibit and Gift Fair on December 13th. It would be wonderful if you could stop in to say hello and see my new photographs and prints!

I did a similar “show” last year and was weathered out! I held the show Nov. 24th and it turned out to be the coldest and windiest day in the season. We even lost electricity in the building half way through the fair. Needless to say the show was a complete failure! Mary Kay Consultant, Kristen Culver helped with the exhibit and fair last year. She’s quite the trooper, even the dark hall didn’t dampen her holiday spirit. She will also join me for my exhibit this year with her carefully selected gift baskets.

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this year!

For this new fair, I created a 2015 Local Wildlife Photo Calendar. Last year was the first time I offered a photo calendar for sale. Previously, only my family received these. While the response from my local community was good, the calendar was just too expensive to produce and sell. I decided not to create a new calendar, but a number of people approached me and asked me for one, so I bit the bullet and created a new one. Thankfully Vistaprint had a sale and the new calendars cost less than last year. I ordered a limited number of the calendars, so that I wouldn’t end up with enough to wallpaper my apartment, like last year.

Another new item will be a revised edition of my Dump Poster. This is a composite picture of all the different wildlife I’ve captured at the Needham Recycling and Transfer Station (aka The Dump). Presently, it’s a work in progress and not ready for public consumption.

There’s a wide variety of product available, ranging in price from $3.00 to $400.00. Your presence, regardless of whether you purchase anything, would be much appreciated!

Exhibit and Fair Information

When: Saturday, December 13
Where: 5 Chambers St., Needham, MA
Time: 12pm to 4pm
Notes: Free child’s gift with purchase, while supplies last. Hot drinks and munchies also available.

Thumbnail of my calendar photos with fair information

2015 Calendar Photos

2015 Calendar Photos

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Quick Photo Composition in Photoshop

Quick Photo Composition in Photoshop.

This quick and clean tutorial on creating a composite photo covers an amazing amount of detail, yet covers the topic well. Most tutorials I watch are mumbled, unclear, or leave out important details. In under four minutes, Howard Pinsky, tells you how to simply combine two photos into a new and more exciting display. Even though he talks very fast, his speech is clear and crisp. I was having trouble editing a dark shot of a flying hawk I took last month and this tutorial gave me ideas on how to fix it with his masking tools tips using the Refine Edges button on the Options bar. Good stuff!

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