Wildlife in Back Garden (May 2016)

This is a very late post about the wildlife that we have seen in the back garden back in May of this year.

House Sparrows:
We had a large number of young birds and their parents visit the garden in May (and this has continued into August this year). The most prominent were House Sparrows, here are a couple of shots (didn’t have time to get a telephoto lens):
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Wood Pigeons:
We also had a nest in the tress just behind the garden that had a Wood Pigeon sat upon it for a long time. We weren’t sure that anything wood hatch but after a few weeks when the Pigeon left the nest we could see one or two small grey balls of fluff; for a few days we didn’t know if there were one or two chicks. However, after seeing two distinct heads it was evident that there were two. Unfortunately the nest was behind some twigs and well into the tree so it wasn’t easy to see into it.

Here are some pictures from the young Wood Pigeons in the nest and then some pictures from a few weeks after this showing how quickly they grew up. Althogh they hanged around for many weeks after leaving the next they have now moved on.
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Disney Animal Kingdom – April 2016

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This is the third and final blog post about my trip to Orlando, you can read about Busch Gardens here and SeaWorld here. During our stay in Orlando we visited three of the Disney parks too: Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Whilst they all had great attractions there was one unifying factor, they were very busy all of the time. The Hollywood studios were a bit disappointing this year, there were a few rides closed and the fast pass selections were poor as well. However Epcot and Animal Kingdom, the subject of this post were very good.

One other common thing with other parks like Epcot and Animal Kingdom is their sheer size, it takes a lot of time to see everything; Epcot really needs 2 days to do it justice.

Onto the pictures:
There were a lot of birds around like this Metallic Starling, that red eye follows you were ever you go:
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Green Winged Dove:
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There were a lot of apes and chimpanzees around too, like the one at the top of this post. They also like to play with each other, there are two of them here:
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One of the most impressive (and dangerous) animals are the Hippopotamuses (yes that it the correct term for the plural of Hippopotamus). you get to see them swimming around and under water but this picture shows what you can see above water which isn’t much:
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Finally one of most endangered species around tofay a rhino:
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SeaWorld – April 2016

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This is the second of my blog posts about my trip to Orlando, you can read the previous one about Busch Gardens here.

This post shows some of my favorite pictures from both visits to SeaWorld; I used my DSLR camera on and off throughout the day on our first visit during the first week of our holiday and for the entire morning of the second trip (second week) whilst Louise, Simon and Jack visited Aquatica.

Pictures from the first visit (6th April)
After trying out the Manta ride (similar to what “Air” was in Alton Towers before it was changed into Galactica) a few times we ventured around the park to see an Animal show and tell.

The first was what looked like an Owl but isn’t called a Tawny Frogmouth, an unusual looked bird:
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The second animal was more obvious, a Common Green Iguana, he (she?) liked being the centre of attention:
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During the day we visited the Shark Encounter attraction, the highlight of which is walking through a translucent tunnel being surrounded by sharks. At one point there is a large set of Jaws form a great white shark, a perfect photo opportunity, Jack of course could not resist. Unfortunately I picked far too low a shutter speed so I have played with this a bit in Lightroom (not one of my best shots):
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Like we have black headed gulls in the UK, Florida has a lot of Snowy Egrets around, here is one of them:
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Here is one of my favourite shots of the holiday (already seen on Facebook), it’s Jack looking in awe at the Manta Rays – his favourite animal I think.
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And here he is a few minutes later trying to feed them with small (dead) fishes you can buy, after this we called him “fish-boy” due to the smell he picked up thanks to his tee-shirt getting soaked from that pool:
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Pictures from the second visit (12th April)
On the second day I was on my own for the morning so I managed to get around the park to photograph the animals at my own pace. In addition to going on the Sky Tower I took a lot of photographs and here are my favourites:

At some point of the day I noticed that there were many House Sparrows flying around, they all seemed to be nest building, here is one of them that paused flying allowing me to take this photo:
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A better (closer) photo of a Snowy Egret:
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In addition to the Snowy Egrets, there were also a number of Wood Storks too:
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And like the common sighting (even in the UK) of the sparrow above, there were also grey squirrels running about the area (can’t resist a squirrel picture):
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Like Busch Gardens,there are large numbers of birds in the park like this Hooded Merganser:
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My final picture of the (half) day was of this terrapin:
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Just after mid-day we all met up back at SeaWorld entrance and after a spot of lunch we did some more rides, saw a show or too, did the Sky Tower together and had a great day!

Busch Gardens – April 2016

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Back in April this year I was fortunate enough to go with my Sister, Brother-in-law and Nephew for 2 weeks to Florida. During our stay we visited most of the usual places in Orlando (Disney and Universal as well as SeaWorld), we also went to Busch Gardens twice.

This post shows some of my favorite pictures from our first visit to Busch Gardens, on the second visit I didn’t take the DSLR with me as we wanted to concentrate on the rides; the Cheetah Hunt being our favourite one in the park and possibly the best ride anywhere. That said, Sheikra, also in Busch Gardens is a close second; its like the Oblivion x2 mixed with the Nemesis (both in Alton Towers) all in one. Kudos to both my nephew and sister for both conquering their fears and doing this ride.

My nephew pretending to his arm trapped in a tree trunk, good acting Jack:
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Typically it was hot both days of our visit, thankfully it wasn’t humid at all. Nevertheless, the animals are quite laid back and like all cats, this Lion was no exception:
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Every Zoo or animal sanctuary has Meerkats it seems and Busch Gardens is no exception. They are cute and the red-sand they were playing is reflected nicely on their coats:
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There were a lot of birds at Busch Gardens and whilst most were in captivity of some kind, there were the usual sighting of black-headed gulls everyewhere:
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This Parakeet was one of the many varieties of captive bird:
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As well as Lions and Cheetahs, there were also a large colony of Bengal Tigers there too:
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Towards the front of the park, there is a large pool full of Alligators and Terrapins and they seem to cohabit quite peacefully, I was surprised by this. Both species did like to sunbathe in the warm heat though:
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My final image is one of the many common lizards that are almost everywhere you go in Florida, less common in the UK. This photo was taken whilst waiting fit the Cheetahs to come closer to me in their run, it was just sunbathing on the rock next to me:
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Squirrel in the Garden

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This is a short post as there is only one picture worth showing. This is a squirrel that lives in the trees around the houses where I live in the suburbs of Lincoln city. There may be more than one but I only see one at a time; he (she?) is very adventurous and loves the berries on trees around the back of the garden. I have seen him leaping from tree to tree and even trees at the opposite ends of the main road located behind the fence at the rear of the garden.

Like most Grey Squirrels there is a lot of red in his fur but even though they flourished better than the native red squirrels I still think they are cute. The only disagreements come form Zara, the larger of our two Shih-Tzu dog; she doesn’t like other animals in the garden whether they be birds, hedgehogs or squirrels!

The Parrot Zoo

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Back in October my parents and I visited the aptly named Parrot Zoo which is located almost in the middle of nowhere between Boston, Skegness and Spilsby. Whilst the main attraction are the parrots the Zoo also hosts a large number of other animals from other small birds to Tigers.

If you have never been I heartily recommend a visit but I suggest that you take a packed lunch with you as the restaurant which serves hot food and is a nice clean environment does have a rather limited menu. If your idea of food is anything form a cooked breakfast to something severed with chips you will be well met, but anyone who is particular about what they can eat (such as myself) will be struggling to find something they can have.

At the time of the visit I was using an OlympuS OM-D E-M1 fitted with Olympus’s best zoom lens the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO. The would be one of the last times I would have the opportunity to use this combo which worked admirably throughout the day apart from a battery change mid-day (still the achilles heal of nearly all “mirrorless” cameras). In fact I managed to capture two of my best wildlife pictures ever so this proves that the photographer and not the camera takes the picture; I will save these for the last two pictures in the post.

The pictures
There are over 100 species of Parrot at the Parrot Zoo and I have named them too the best of my abilities. Please forgive me if I have incorrectly named them.

Blue Fronted Amazon #1:
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Blue Fronted Amazon #2:
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African Grey Parrot:
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Sun Conures:
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Eclectic Parrot (Male):
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There was an enclosure (double doored) where you could walk around an be amongst some of the species of birds at the enclosure and this one took a fancy to my father, at one time or another we all had a bird perched upon us, they so like hair it seems:
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Yellow-collared Lovebird:
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Regent Parrot:
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Cockatiel:
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Cockatiel with a Conure:
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Young Peacock, there was a whole family of them situated throughout the zoo and they went where they pleased:
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Baby and mother meerkat:
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Startled Robin (one of my all time best pictures):
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Hartsholme Park in September

Back in September I went to Hartsholme Park to see what was going on (on the wildlife front). The young Common Coots had left their nest but there were a lot of young ones swimming around all parts of the lake. In addition to the Coots we also had a family of swans who enjoyed being fed bread (not the best food for them) from passers by. The grey Squirrels (who do not hibernate) were ever present and always present a good photo opportunity too.

We also had a large number of young Great Crested Grebe swimming around and diving form time to time for food.

Young Common Coot:
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Young Common Coots in symmetry:
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Mute Swan Family:
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Grey Squirrel feeding:
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Great Crested Grebe young:
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Nice Portrait of Male Mallard Duck:
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The birds don’t mind being around others when there’s food on the offering:
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My favourite shot of the day, I have seen dogs look like this when the want the food you have:
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Once the food enters the water it’s a free for all:
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