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Caracara With Plenty Of Character!

Sparky The Caracara

Caracara With Plenty Of Character!

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 😀

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Dark Angel

Dark Angel

Dark Angel

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

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

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Blue Monday: The Eye Of The Beholder

Robyn the Hooded Vulture

Blue Monday: The Eye Of The Beholder

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!

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Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

Great Crested Grebe

Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

I took this photo of one of the grebes at Thorpe Lake before my swim there last week. The reflections of the sky were so beautiful. Open water swimming is just the best physical and mental exercise there is! I get to watch these glorious birds, along with all the other residents of the lakeside, while I swim through those smooth waters every week. The simple pleasures in life are the best. I shall share this pleasure with everyone as part of Wex Mondays this week. Good luck to everyone entering!

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Kestrel Portrait

Female Kestrel

Kestrel Portrait

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.

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Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatch

Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatches are wonderful birds to watch! It’s not often I can get close enough to show you the detail of their feathers and the beautiful slate-grey and blue colouring. I spotted this one clinging to the trunk of one of the trees near the birdhide at RHS Wisley Gardens. First came the panicked retrieval of my long lens and actually fitting it to the camera body. Then I had to try to creep down the stairs to get closer. Stairs and I don’t get on well at the best of times!! The whole time I was whispering, “Just hang on a minute!” and he did. He actually clung to the trunk for quite a while, watching the other birds coming and going from the feeders. Look closely at the image and you can see the really long toes and claws of this expert climber! I love the texture of the bark on this trunk. It’s a feature that helps the nuthatch make really good use of this tree for climbing and feeding on insects within the crevices of the bark. Among all my wonderful wildlife finds last week, this image really stands out for me so I’m putting it into the Wex Mondays challenge this week. Good luck to all those entering!