Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 08/11/2011

A Roaring Good Time

African Lioness, originally uploaded by

The weather certainly has turned all autumnal (whilst The Fall* is a very descriptive term for this time of year, ‘Fallal’** doesn’t quite work). I have cleaned (meticulously, I may add) the front element of the 600mm and found possibly the best cloth for removing the cleaning fluid (applied with a cotton bud) – a faux chamois leather. I had purchased this cloth originally to dry the lens and camera during this inclement time but always seem to forget it when packing my camera gear. Having tried to use the large sheet when cleaning the glass to no avail, I chopped off 2inch square of the cloth which turned out to be an ideal size. The lens is now perfectly clean but the weather needs to improve some more before I can get any half decent shots. During a spare moment at lunchtime today I set up my camera gear with a clear view of the bird feeder, and even at ISO 5000, all I could get was 1/200 second at F8. Appallingly slow shutter speed, any movement of the birds on the feeder resulted in blurred shots…. still, it didn’t cost me anything except eating time, (which is no bad thing). It’s a shame really as at one point there was a goldfinch, two nuthatches, a blue tit and a great tit on various parts of the branch that is still strapped across the frame of the feeder pole.

Four species on the bird feeder at one time, that’s pretty good, though we are quite frequently visited by as many though not usually a goldfinch… the more likely suspect is a Willow Tit. mind you we do have a very healthy list of visitors, the more unusual ones including a little owl, green woodpecker, red kite, spotted flycatcher and a hornbill. Of all those… what? what do you mean, “a hornbill”.. haven’t you had one in your garden (all the best gardens around our way have, don’tcha know!)? It turns out the hornbill was an escapee from a local private collection and who’s presence was corroborated by a couple of surly youths (are there any other type?) who described it to a tee. Having just checked twitter, it looks like the first of the waxwings have made their way to UK shores, having been spotted over Cley Marshes (I need to put signposts out to our garden).

Today’s image is of the African lioness at Dartmoor Zoo as she was roaring away. A keeper was interacting with the tigers in the next enclosure and had come up close to the fence adjacent to the Lions’s enclosure. Both male and female lion did not appreciate their presence even though there is a path between the two enclosures and so both started to postulate and roar. The sound is impressive (though not what kids would describe as a true roar ie it’s not exactly onomatopoeic) and it can carry for miles, especially in less built up areas such as the Masai Mara though sadly we didn’t hear any in the night whilst we were there (only hippo).

*”Cruisers Creek, yeeeeah”***
**sounds more like some type of vegetarian foodstuff
***Who took their name from a novel by Albert Camus.


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