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Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Well, it’s been a truly crazy weekend! It’s always a bit crazy this time of year as we celebrate, first, my sister’s and then both my parent’s birthdays. This year my sister has reached the big four-zero and it’s an even more impressive seventy for my dad! Naturally, we organised a BIG party with family and friends coming, not just from all over the UK but also, from France and Australia. It was a great gathering with possibly the best buffet ever, definitely the best cakes ever (made by Sarah Jane from Flossy Cockles), a number of the very best musicians (from the Famous Five Band) you could hope to gather in one room, and a fantastic group of people to enjoy it all. One important thing was missing though. Dad. Yes, the birthday boy missed his own party! He was greatly missed by all of us there too. A nasty bug and adverse reaction to antibiotics forced our amazing dad to remain at home. It was really hard for us to celebrate without him! He’s the life, soul and comic relief of most gatherings, so we really owed it to him to celebrate in style. Not only that, we still had my sister and lovely mum to toast to! It was great to catch up with so many family members and friends that I hadn’t seen for ages. A few of my cousins brought their kids along and I loved watching them all play together! As always, the best toys to be found were balloons. Such a simple thing, but a child’s delight at knocking a balloon around is a timeless joy that always sucks in a few adults too! My Fotospeed challenge entry is this photo of my cousin’s little girl, Eva, having a wonderful time with one of the large, pink balloons. I think she hugged a few of them too tight and we had a several go bang, it’s all part of the fun though! Eva is the middle of three gorgeous girls and she’s a real pickle. Reminds me so much of my sister at that age! I just love the glint in her eyes and her cheeky smile. I think my dad will enjoy seeing my photos of all the kids playing! Thankfully he seems to be past the worst of it now. Rest, recovery and eventually we’ll be able to have a celebratory toast to his renewed health! Get well soon dad and Birthday Wishes to you and mum xxx

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Catnap

Catnap

Catnap

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!

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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 ūüėÄ

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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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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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Look Of Love 


Look Of Love 
This year at Plaka nature reserve, on Kos Island, one man has taken over the care of the wildlife and much of the habitat of the area. The cats and birds are much healthier and he has started a programme to neuter a number of the cats living in the park. 

He told us that almost every day when he arrives, there have been more kittens or puppies dumped at the main part of the park. Often it is residents but occasionally tourists bring kittens along thinking to give them a safer home. 

He’s quite overwhelmed but has strategies in place and arrangements with a local vet. I think he needs the park and the animals as much as they need someone to care for them. Widowed some 13yrs, retired from 39yrs with the military, only remaining member of his family still on the island, he lost his mother to altzheimers just a few weeks ago. He had cared for her for a long time and felt that she had at last found peace. 

He has found his own peace within Plaka and can fulfil the ongoing need to be caring for something. There is much to be gained from nature and wildlife during times of hardship, grief or illness. While local authorities do not have the funds to maintain some of Greece’s nature reserves, local people and visiting tourists can do much to safeguard these precious places.