Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tiger Tiger!

We realised that D#4, despite being primary school age, had never been to a zoo. So on a recent school inset day we rang the bank manager, arranged a loan, and went to Colchester Zoo.

It was excellent. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, apart from D#4 who kept asking when we were going home. But he never asked when we were looking at the animals, only when we were between them, so I think he enjoyed it really.

Lots of highlights, better views of many animals than I've ever had before. An excellent display of flying owls and a vulture. It's a well run place I can thoroughly recommend for a family day out. We let D#2 loose with the camera. The photos are taken through thick glass, so there's some reflection, but you get the idea.

The falconer mentioned wild Eagle Owls in the UK. He said they hunt for 8 minutes per day, and hunt by sitting and watching and waiting for prey to come close, when they drop on it. Apparently in the 1987 storm a lot of aviaries blew down, and some Eagle Owls escaped and bred; one femal in North Yorks has raised over twenty young. So in summary, there could be lots of them out there and we wouldn't know.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

SLRS update

Its a while since I posted from our local Micro-Minsmere. I've had a few quick trips down but little to report. This evening there was good news, however. Three fluffy bundles were pecking there way round the muddy fringes - I think the first Lapwings to breed in the valley for a while. Otherwise there was a mass of birds - I've counted 37 Mallard here, mainly young, and family parties of Canada Goose and Coot. Today there were lots of Swallows and House Martins over the lagoon, and a couple of Pied Wagtails. Reed Buntings were calling, and overhead a couple of LBBG's drifted over and two Goldfinches flew past.

Previous visits have had Whitethroats, including a Lesser, and a variety of other common summer birds. So its seems to have been a successful breeding season for the pond and there's no shortage of birds in the surrounding countryside.

The water-level is beginning to drop. Some muddy fringes are appearing so fingers-crossed for some waders dropping in shortly.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

local orchids

What with weather, work, etc. Its been a matter of sneaking out for a few quick visits. Today was typical; the boys were doing their Sunday morning cricket, so Kevin and I sneaked off to snap some local orchids, at local wildlife hot-spot the Harlow M11 roundabout. We saw the two species we were looking for, much to the consternation of motorists stopped at the adjacent traffic lights.

Just time for a coffee at the sign of the golden arches, then back to find out how the next generation of Ian Bothams are developing under the guidance of our own International Superstar.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


It probably isn't a good idea for someone who suffers from Hay Fever and who hasn't yet taken any anti-histamines this summer to go for a walk round a reserve packed with head-high pollen generators. I went round Sawbridgeworth Marsh, and was suffering by the time I got back. I took the camera and clicked away like a madman, and on the Monkeys-Typewriters Principle got a few decent pictures after suitable cropping.

No Icterine Warblers or any other Eastern rarities, just local stuff like Bullfinch, Whitethroat, Wren, Kestrel, and the birds below:

A Reed Warbler that on close inspection had just caught lunch; then Reed Bunting (lots out singing today - made them easy to photo as they seemed eager to compete with their neighbours), Blue Tit and a distant Common Buzzard

Some non birds: one of those Marsh Orchids, a bug, and I think I'm on reasonably solid ground saying the last photo is of a horse.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...