Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 29/07/2012

I trained at RADAR for this Dear Heart.

Baby Meerkat, originally uploaded by

I hope you haven’t taken it personally, Dear Reader, that it’s gone 22:30 and I’ve only just got round to writing today’s blog and to be frank (but I think it’s more important to be Ernest!) I might well fall asleep whilst I try and formulate today’s missive.

We went to a local park that has a wide variety of animals and birds, but not enough to call itself a zoo (though I’m not sure what the delineation is). I’ve been there numerous times over the last couple of years as it’s fairly close to where we live, and they have a bias towards birds from all over the world that you don’t tend to see in other menageries. It seems an age since I was last out with my camera and 600mm lens, in fact it’s over a month now (the last time being Kenya of course) as I’ve managed with the Sigma 150-500mm recently. Nothing compares to the 600mm though and it’s almost like seeing an old friend again when re-united with this beast of a lens.

I don’t restrict myself to just this one lens and camera when out and about of course, I’ve tended, of late, to pack two camera bags whenever I go out to photograph wildlife of any sorts. The 600mm has its own bag to protect it, in transit; I then have a second bag which contains other camera equipment that I feel might be useful throughout the day, such as the Sigma 150-500mm, Sigma 150mm macro, Canon 17-40mm as well as flash gun with its associated paraphernalia. All this equipment, along with my tripod, is fairly heavy so that I know I’ve been out with it when I return home (or base, wherever that might be) – I’m certainly aware that I’ve been carrying a heavy loads as I write this.

We’ve had friends round this evening, friends who had to wait quite a while for dinner to be cooked – it’s a good job I prepared all that was needed this morning. I had planned on barbequing the three different types of marinated chicken, as well as two different types of sausages but with changeable weather throughout the day, and getting back home late it all had to be grilled but I’m sure you don’t want to know about such things and would prefer to hear about my photographic adventures today? You would.. oh good, I’ll begin then.

I managed to take over 730 photos in the 5 hours we were at the Park (which isn’t that bad for me), though I was hampered by a shower (their baths were out of order) as well as a thunderstorm when all I could do was take shelter under a walkway (lighting was terrible, so there was little point in taking any snaps). The park as some of my favourite small mammals, Mongoose, in fact they have three types, Banded, Yellow and Dwarf mongoose – all of which, in my humble opinion, are far more interesting and cuter than their relatives the Meerkats. The park does have meerkats, it’s just I prefer the animals I photograph to not have an Equity card and be in possession of a proper personality – Meerkats have too much of the former and too little of the later for my liking (though I won’t threaten to BBQ them again, after causing distress to my son last year when he heard this!). Despite all what I’ve just written, I did actually utter the dreaded “aahhh isn’t it cute” when photographing around the Meerkat enclosure – the one softspot I do have for these creatures (just at the base of the skull) is for their young, and there was one baby meerkat in the enclosure. I haven’t checked the photographs but I am hoping that there will be a few passable ones to post to flickr over the next couple of days. If you thought that a baby meerkat was adorable.. you wait until you see the baby ring-tailed lemurs!


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