Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Shopping or Chester Zoo ?

I must admit I have a bit of an aversion to crowds and queues, so when faced with the decision of Christmas shopping or a trip to Chester Zoo the decision was not a difficult one. I prefer zoo visits in the winter as there are less people and the animals more active. The only downside is the low angle of the sun can create some difficult lighting in the enclosures on occasions. The other factor I had not taken in to account for my visit was that due to the icy conditions many of the animals had been kept in for safety reasons. A giraffe slipping on ice does not bear thinking about.

First to fall before the lens was the Black Stork. They really are stunning birds at the right light angle as the sun transforms there iridescent feathers into a rainbow of hues.
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Next stop on the tour around were some of the owls. The solemn stare of a Great Grey Owl.
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The White Faced Scoops Owls brought a smile due to the antics of one of a pair of birds . The bird on the left was perched normally glaring down with those penetrating eyes.
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The bird on the right obviously did no like the look of me and was adopting the odd stretched defensive posture. Unfortunately the photos do not show the amazing transformation into this stretched pose
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Just round the corner from the owls are the Red Pandas which are usually asleep up a very tall tree but one was wandering round trying to find a new place to curl up into a red fur ball.
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The Cheetahs were busy and it took a while to spot this female sitting in the low winter sun amongst the tall grasses in the enclosure.
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In August he zoo opened a new walk in aviary with African birds but I found it quite tricky to get good photographs. A Hammerkopf was building a huge nest in the tree and constantly flying around collecting twigs and grasses. I tried a flight shot but only had 1/250s shutter speed to play with bit it is my first BIF photo from a zoo
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The other bird that was particularly evident were the Village Weaver Birds which had already built a large number of spherical woven grass nests on one of the trees.
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I decided to wander over to the tropical house to see the free flying birds. As anticipated on entry I had to spend the first 10 minutes clearing condensation off the camera. I did not stay in there long with only a Royal Starling to show for my efforts.
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To finish off this post A Griffon Vulture that was being very nicely spotlighted by the sun.
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9 comments:

keriatti said...

Amazing amazing...the second one is my favorite

Cindy said...

I'd rather go to the zoo too! Beautiful photos. I especially love the Panda and the Vulture photos. Happy New Year.

holdingmoments said...

I would never have known these were taken at a zoo. Superb pictures Richard.
That stretching Owl certainly looks strange.

Anonymous said...

You are a very smart person!

JPT said...

Neither - take a walk in the Welsh hills!

Jenny said...

Absolutely superb!

Linda said...

Awesome photos!

BBFO was set up in 1953 said...

Hi Richard, Your blog is STUNNING! Some absolutely wonderful photography. Could you be so kind and let me know how you get your images at the size they are onto the blog. We have our own Observatory blog and have been unable to discover how to get the images to a large size, and how have you managed t get you whole blog as wide as it is. Thanks very much for you time.

Steve Stansfield
Warden of Bardsey Bird Observatory

Rich Steel said...

Thanks for the kind words. A trip to the zoo is always good fun and a valuable learning experience.

Cheers

Rich

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