It’s very hard for researchers to know the exact number of these amazing cats left wild in Scotland, as they have hybridised with feral domestic-cat populations over the years. It is estimated that there are now perhaps only thirty five true wildcats left and they are at imminent threat of extinction. It breaks my heart! This beautiful female and her three kittens live at the British Wildlife Centre, near Godstone, in Surrey. Such a great place! I visited last week with my friend Nikki and godchildren, Rosie and James. Rosie loves all cats and the wildcats hold a special place in her heart too. It was wonderful to explore our native wildlife with them, whilst giving young James another photography tutorial! I have a few images of some of the other residents, but the wildcat topped my Twitter poll for what people wanted to see for today’s Wex Mondays challenge. I’m very glad to share a bit of their story with you, but for more information please visit the British Wildlife Centre wildcat page here. The centre does some wonderful work in conservation, rescue & rehabilitation and in education. It’s well worth a visit and I would really encourage everybody to support the amazing work that they do!
The weather closed in on us yesterday and scuppered plans for heading outdoors! The cats were equally unimpressed. Once they’d given up on meowing at us to fix the weather, they headed off for a Sunday catnap. This monochrome image is a soft capture, using my 50mm 1.8f lens, of our Juno snoozing on the bed. Juno and her sister, Luna, are actually quite colourful tortoiseshell and white rescue cats but I decided to go mono with this one to reflect they greyness of the day. Photographing the cats was the sum total of work I managed this weekend, so this is my choice for this week’s Fotospeed challenge. Good luck everyone!
Meet Sparky, a wonderful caracara who has more character than one image alone can express! We watched in awe as Sparky performed to the crowds at RHS Wisley Gardens, with Martin Ballam and Peter Warne from Xtreme Falconry, on Saturday afternoon. The caracara is an unusual bird of prey from the Falkland Islands. You can look up more about the caracara here, but I shall hint at why they are so unusual by telling you that there aren’t any trees for them to roost in or hunt from! I love Sparky so much that I’m sharing this as my Fotospeed challenge entry this week and adding a little video I made of the show on Saturday. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did 😀
I was so entranced by beautiful Robyn, the Hooded Vulture, that I was inspired to create this piece of digital art AND write a new poem! The plight of these incredible birds is not one that makes the headlines. They’re not as cute and fluffy as some other critically endangered species! You can read more about this in my earlier Blue Monday post. To raise awareness of the decline of the Hooded Vulture, I’m sharing this image for Wex Mondays this week.
Dark angels Navigating stormy skies Scanning the vast landscape With steely eyes Seeking out the Earthly remains Of departed souls Laid out upon the plains
Angels descend A winged canopy Encloses the carcass Last rites in ancient ceremony Feathered funeral cortege Gathers without Regret or remorse Guardians of the dead Carry away the corpse
Angels ascend Rising on broad wings Circling above the expanse The wind sings Of their passing Above the clouds Dark and heavy with rain That shrouds Their dispersal amongst The heavens
This is Robyn, a beautiful hooded vulture belonging to the fantastic Xtreme Falconry team from Dorset. Xtreme have been putting on Bird Of Prey events at RHS Wisley Gardens for many years now and always draw a crowd. Many, like myself, return time after time to see these wonderful birds! This is my Blue Monday post for that startling ring of blue around Robyn’s eye that is distinctive of this species. Hooded vultures come from Africa where they are currently declining in numbers at an alarming rate. They are now listed as a critically endangered species. Much of the decline is from poisoning. Trappers, hunters, poachers and misinformed farmers are all gunning for these shy carrion birds. This is tragic in more ways than the obvious! Vultures are not the only creatures that will be drawn to a carcass that has been poisoned. Lions, hyenas, leopard, cheetah and hunting dogs will all feed on carrion if they are hungry and haven’t got a fresh catch. Not only that, vultures and other carrion feeders are responsible for clearing away the dead animals that when left can rot and spread disease among both local animal and human populations. There is so very much to love about vultures, if you didn’t already find them beautiful and fascinating, I hope you do now!
My hubby and I braved the elements on Saturday to go to the Cheese and Chilli Festival near Guildford on Saturday. We were all hoping for a break in the rain to watch the GMG Falconry display! No such luck, complete washout. The birds were out on perches under gazebos but they were still getting a bit damp and chilly. I did manage to take a few portraits and I really like the way the damp feathers brought exaggerated detail to this female kestrel’s expression! She had puffed her feathers up to get a bit more insulation from the damp and cold. Such a beautiful bird but she really wasn’t impressed. The phrase “fed up” actually comes from falconry language. It was used to describe a bird that had eaten enough food that it wasn’t interested in flying anymore, literally fed up! The birds on display certainly looked completely fed up but not from feeding. Birds of prey really can’t fly in such heavy rain! Although oils spread through their feathers give them a certain amount of weatherproofing, a wild kestrel would have been hunkered down in a tree or rock roost waiting for the rain to pass. We decided that it was too wet to stick around and returned to our own roost to wait out the weather! So my choices for today’s Fotospeed challenge were limited but I can’t really complain when I had this lovely kestrel.