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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: 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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Butterfly And Bokeh

Butterfly And Bokeh

Butterfly And Bokeh

Spotted this lovely green-veined white butterfly on seed heads at my sister-in-law’s house yesterday. Finally some sunshine enabling us to spend time in the garden after a lovely family Sunday lunch! Only two butterfly visitors to the little suburban garden. This and a gatekeeper. I was surprised as their garden is absolutely filled with plants for pollinators! There were lots of bees all enjoying the lavender and borage. The garden is also a haven for lots of sparrows, dunnocks and the occasional parakeet. It really goes to show how wildlife friendly small urban and suburban gardens can be made! This is my entry for this week’s Fotospeed challenge and a reminder that there’s still a week left to go for The Big Butterfly Count. Citizen science in connection with Butterfly Conservation UK!

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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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Ready For The Close-Up

Dragonfly Macro

Ready For The Close-Up

I suspect that this dragonfly, at RHS Wisley Gardens, had only recently emerged when I found it yesterday. I wouldn’t usually be able to get this close to one! They have incredible eyes that take up most of the head, allowing them to see almost all around them and in higher definition than we mere humans could ever hope for. This is my entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week. Good luck everyone!

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Pretty Little Things

Cygnets

Pretty Little Things

It’s lovely seeing cygnets on the Basingstoke Canal again! The swans on the Byfleet and New Haw stretch have four cygnets this year. I couldn’t resist this shot of two of the babies seeming to be admiring their reflections, or in a conversation with each other. I think it would make a rather lovely print so I’m entering it into this week’s Fotospeed challenge.

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Fastest Food In The World!

Woking Peregrine Adult and Juvenile

Fastest Food In The World!

The Woking Peregrine Falcons have successfully raised five youngsters this year! It’s been amazing to watch their journey unfold on the live cameras situated by the nest box. This is only the second year nesting here for these adults, so to raise all five of their brood is really quite something! The juveniles have fledged and all five have been taking to skies over Woking Town to learn how to hunt at around 200mph. These are the fastest animals on Earth! At the moment the adults are leading their young on high speed chases, baiting them with fresh caught food and trying a few food passes in flight. The adult in this image has a pigeon for the juveniles. This is my entry for Wex Mondays this week as it was just the most incredible thing to watch.

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Marsh Warbler Maybe?

I think it's a Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler Maybe?

Despite an injury to my neck I managed a little bit of weekend wildlife watching and photography! This sighting at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre has me very excited, as I’m almost 100% certain that it’s a Marsh Warbler. The markings and the song seem to fit. It can be very hard to positively identify some warblers from one another! I hope that the good folks at the RSPB and BTO can help me out. I couldn’t bring the 500mm lens out with my neck injury so can’t actually read the identification ring on the bird’s leg. There’s a nest deep in the shrubs close to the fence post and the fledglings have been popping in and out but not when I was close enough with the camera! The adults were very busy darting in and out of the reeds around the water’s edge. Such a joy to watch! I also managed to get close enough to identify and photograph another resident, a reed bunting. This was another first for me! Nature is most definitely the best remedy for any ailment. I will share this little bundle of joy for my Fotospeed entry this week and hope it makes others smile too 🙂

I think it's a Marsh Warbler