Welcome to my blog, the purpose of which is to record my findings and photographs while out and about. Many thanks for visiting, I hope you like it!
I love zoos. Where else is anyone likely to come face to face with an Ocelot or witness the enchanting stare of the Tiger, well with the sad news of Lonesome George's death this week, it is perhaps a reminder that these species could soon only be witnessed behind glass.
When visiting zoos (and photographing mammals in general), I like to portray their character as accurately as possible in the photograph in an attempt to bring the viewer closer to the animal being seen. For me however, it is not the species often photographed at zoos such as Elephants and Lions that really capture my attention, but the shyer, more easily overlooked creatures such as the Ocelot. I spent a while with one of these animals in particular, often only glimpsing a tail (they were surprisingly difficult to track - even in the zoo!) or a leg but in the end, I was presented with those eyes staring right down my lens in full view.
Now I'm not a fan of primates. Their resemblance to humanity is too close for me to gain any sort of interest, but one sort of primates still manage to make their way onto my SD card, the Lemurs. Perhaps it is because they are some of the least monkey like primates, some of which look more like dogs than monkeys and my particular favourite are the ring-tailed lemurs. Being such social creatures, they are constantly active but I managed to located one resting so I fired away and hopefully I have managed to capture at least a fraction of their awesome personalities.
That's all for now - hopefully in a few weeks I'll be doing some more zoo work with species such as Snow Leopards. As always thanks for reading! :-)
As promised here are some more pics from France but I thought I'd have a change from birds and France offered me the perfect opportunity for some macro photography. The weather wasn't ideal as it was either windy or raining the majority of the time but I got a couple of shots I'm pleased with:
We arrived at our gîte in Ponitgñe at around 10:00 am. The journey there was fairly painless but there were no birds to be seen apart from Buzzards sat on almost every possible post. The weather was beautiful, lovely sunshine, though it was boiling hot (a slight contrast from the rain back in the UK!). After unpacking I went for a quick walk around the lanes and I quickly realised this was going to be a good week for bird photography. Within minutes I could hear Nightingales, Turtle Doves and Cirl Buntings. I spent most of the day trying to get a glimpse of a nightingale (they're know less skulking than in the UK!) and after a while one showed fantastically well at the top of a dead tree for around 7 seconds, and was never to be seen again. Indeed I never saw a nightingale again for the whole week, but their beautiful song continued to make us aware of their presence.
I got up early to try and photograph the nightingales again but with no luck, though I discovered a pair of Melodious Warblers nearby. In general, the birds in the region were much shyer than in the UK, possible due to its rural location. We went for a walk along the Loire River where I spent an hour or so photographing White Wagtails catching flys. They were distant but posed nicely on an attractive perch in the sunshine, so I got some okay shots of them.
Birding wise this was one of the best days of the week with over 60 species seen. As the area is very agricultural, I focused on farmland species and I managed to locate a very obliging Corn Bunting, a species which is, unfortunately, declining rapidly in the UK. We also saw a very distant Black Kite and Honey Buzzard, though it was impossible to get a shot that was more than a dot in the sky with the 500mm lens. We then found one of the specialties of the Loire Valley, the Little Bustard with the hel of a guide. They showed poorly and our only views were of males flying away from us, not ideal for photography, but it was great to see this increasingly rare species. To finish the day off nicely, we found a male Hen Harrier quartering a field allowing for some close views and nice shots with the poppies below adding to the composition.
A visit to France would not be complete without a visit to one of the Châteaux so we decided to visit Châteaux du Lude and had a nice walk around the grounds. There was more wildlife than I was expecting and a Male Redstart and a distant Red Backed Shrike made for some good birding. The Châteaux itself made for some good landscape shots too along with some Edible Frogs in the pond.
On day 5 we took a trip to Zoo de La Fléche. The zoo was fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you are staying in the region. The zoo contained the typical species along with some specialities such as White Lions. There were even some wild birds here too including Serins, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Firecrest. In fact, the zoo provided me with my only view of these species for the whole week despite there being perfectly suitable habitat elsewhere; it always amazes how birds sometimes choose to live in areas far closer to humans than necessary.
We went to look for the other regions specialty which is the rock sparrow. Unfortunately, despite hearing them, we failed to locate them at their favoured site, Fontevraud Abbey. I did however spend a few hours with a pair of Black Redstarts which were nesting in an old house martins nest. This pair were not as shy as others I had photographed earlier in the week, most likely due to the fact that they are used to large numbers of people.
Our final full day in France was spent at Lac de Rillé, one of the only designated nature reserves in the area. Here we found a Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers nest, along with a Short Toed Treecreeper. The light at the LSW nest was very poor and the adults wer incredibly shy so not much good for photography, though it was nice to connect with another very rare species and one that is increasingly difficult to see in the UK. Around the lake we enjoyed views of Yellow Legged Gulls, 9 Great White Egrets and even a Black Kite that flew fairly low overhead on one occasion. From one of the hides we had stunning views of one Great White Egret in flight as it struggled against the winds, making it almost stationery right outside the hide; he even gave me time to change the settings on my camera so I didn't blow out the whites of the bird.
We had to leave our gîte by 11am but I went for one last walk around the lanes and I'm very glad I did. Despite going for walks around the area almost everyday, I got my best views of Turtle Doves, Cirl Buntings and the Melodious Warblers. As it was the final day I decided to take some landscape shots of the area too.
Please check back in a couple of days and I will do another blog post with some more photots from France once I have had a bit more time to edit them! :-) Please check the 'Recently Added' page for some more photos including more of the Black Redstarts. As always, thanks for reading!
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From the imaginative title you have probably guessed that this post is about one of my nemesis birds, the Stonechat. They are fantastic birds to look at, but a real nightmare to photograph as they constantly fly from branch to branch, the moment you get within photographable distance. Using a hide is really the only way to go, but I though I'd try just being patience and quiet in a small local meadow where I knew of a family of these birds. The birds have raised one young at this site, which perhaps played to my advantage, as they were more worried about satisfying the hunger of their chick, rather than me getting too close. The results aren't great but the best I have managed so far.
I'm away in France for half term so I will hopefully be updating this blog next weekend with some nice shots of some different birds. The region in which we are staying is well known for species such as Rock Sparrow and Little Bustard, so it should be good!!
Last week it was Firecrests, this week, Goldcrests. Although not a scarce species, they seem to reside in the tops of the very tallest trees, not ideal! However when I was on my usual route around the local area there a Goldcrest feeding on the pavement, yes the pavement! The pavement was not exactly the most natural of backdrops so I decided to wait for a while in the hope he would hop up onto the hedge, which eventually, he did. Hope the photos explain the rest but I doubt I will ever get an opportunity like this again!
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