Friday, August 29, 2008

A Trip to the Zoo

Its been a while since I made a trip to Chester Zoo. I do enjoy a visit to a zoo and the challenge presented by the range of enclosures and trying to make the photo a natural out of enclosure look.Usually I go in the winter when its quiet and the animals are more active. Not being a great lover of crowds I am not quite sure why I actually decided to go on the Bank Holiday last Monday. I spent most of the time dodging kids waving icecreams and inflatable animal balloons. During the visit the light went between the two worst extremes from horrible harsh beaming midday sun to near nightime under gathering storm gclouds within the space of around 15 miuntes. This sort of hampered my efforts, so it was not the most productive of visits photographically, but I was keen to see their new cheetah enclosues. Starting with a few of the birds.
One of my favourites in the zoo, the Black vulture
I am not sure what this next one is, some kind of hornbill I guess but it caught my eye, as I was being jostled along through the Komodo House by the crowds.

One of the penguines taking a stretch

Moving over to some mammals, the family favourite in an sentry MeerkatTapir I am pleased to say I did get to see the new Cheetahs that seem to have settled in well

and one even put on a bit of an interesting display of aggressionComing to a skidding halt after leaping foward. and a couple of Zebra given the Black and White photo treatment to finish.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sand Bank Fishing

Living by the River Mersey estuary you get accustomed to the ebb and flow of the tide and how the local shore birds interact with the ever changing conditions. Normally the best photographic opportunities occur at high water but I decided to head out early on Saturday morning on a rapidly dropping tide to be greeted with some lovely light conditions (for a change!!) Recently numbers of Little Egrets have been increasing in the area I often visit with 12 birds now present. On arrival a few egrets were mixed in with a large flock of gulls feeding on small fish trapped in small pools and being washed down shallow gullies through the sand bank. I decided to sit it out on the sea wall and see if any birds would come in close to feed in the gulley, close to the base of the sea defenses. One bird was making good progress towards me until sacred off by a dogwalker.There is a group of grey herons that roost in a nearby pasture at high water and reappear as the tide drops away to join the fishing flocks. Generally herons are not the most approachable of birds so the best opportunities tend to be presented during fly-bys. We have some big tides at the moment (9 metres +) that sculpts the sand into interesting patterns and the speed of the ebbing water running down one of the channels can be seen in the background of this photo. Certainly somewhere I would not recommend falling in to. Landing gear down...and air brakes on Overall a very enjoyable short session with the herons and egrets and something I intend to repeat in the future when the light is again favourable.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bathing Gulls

There are times when, despite being presented with a common species, the light is so beautiful you just have to reach for the camera. There were some black-headed gulls bathing on the local boating lake in some late afternoon sun (a rare event in the UK during a very wet August!!).Larger birds after bathing will often jump up to shake the excess water from their wings which provides a good moment to get some photos even if they do look a bit soggy.
Running for lift-offand coming in to land
A young Herring gull joined in and kept jumping up and just sticking its head under the water but don't ask me why. Gulls are always such good value for some action photos.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Colourful Turnstones
These birds are starting to return in numbers to my local coastline. They are normally a fairly drab bird in their winter plumage but many of the early arrival sare still in their summer feathers or remnants of, which makes for a very attractive and colourful photographic subject.
This bird was ringed but unfortunately on this occasion I was unable to read the details to pass on to a someone who knows about such matters and would have been able to given me a bit of history of this bird.
Some typical turnstone behaviour, nosing around the seaweed and mussels stuck to the sea wall, looking for some tasty morsels left by the high tide.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ringed Plover and Dunlin

I always enjoy photographing small shore birds. They always have great movement and offer a good challenge on approach especially with the lack of cover on an open beach. This usually means getting down in wet mud! It is always a priviledge to watch the antics when you are in close on some small feeding shore birds. Ringed plover are one such bird, delicate in their quick walks across the beach but swift and agile in flight.
Locally the waders are starting to return with redshank, dunlin, turnstones and curlew building in numbers. These early arrivals often still have the summer plumage and include some beautifullycoloured birds.
Dunlin still in their summer dress.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last Hares

This will be my last post on the hares for a while as I will switch my attentions back to some bird photography. That is not to say I will not still be paying them a visit over the next few months but probably will not be posting many.

I have been hampered by the light lately due to frequently overcast conditions, which in effect tends to rule out any action shots due to the lack of shutter speed required for these fast moving animals. So below is a selection of recent portraits.
To finish off a fond wave farewell for now from one of the hares.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wagtails to start

Thought I would ease myself back in to some bird photography having spent so much time with the hares recently. I came across a group of pied wagtails the other day so thought I would stop to get a few photographs. This is a bird species that I always think should look better on photographs than it tends to with its smart black, white and grey plumage.

It would nice to be able to show this photo at proper resolution and so you will just have to believe when I say you can see every feather filament.
Stalking through the grass looking for insects to eat.The end for another fly.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Welcome Back Old Friend

At some of the sites I frequent visit I like to keep an eye on some of the local residents that appear before me time and time again. At one such site there is a female kestrel that has provided me with plenty of photo opportunities in the past. She has been missing for a few months, presumably off producing some new kestrels, and it brought a smile to see she had returned the other day and looking in great condition . I only took a couple of photographs as my attention was drawn to other subjects but hopefully now she is back there will be many more opportunities to come.

I smell the return of wading birds in the air, back from their breeding grounds in the north ,and look foward to start getting some in front of the lens in the coming weeks.


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