A visit with friends

My schedule was thrown out this week by a two-day spell in hospital so I was not able to write my usual Wednesday blog.  Happily all is OK now and I was able to visit the parc yesterday, with the added bonus of being able to show some friends from England around. We met just after midday and headed straight to the bird display which started at its normal time of 1.00pm.  As usual the Eagle Owl started the proceedings as it flew in to the arena and for once I was able to get a reasonable shot of it in flight. Closer inspection reveals that the focus isn’t pin sharp but it’s close.

Verreaux Eagle Owl

The rest of the display went ahead as usual and I was able to prewarn my friends as to what was about to happen. Very handy as he is a keen photographer too. A few of my shots were particularly pleasing with success at last in capturing pin sharp photos of birds in flight. The Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) is close to perfect as even when zoomed right in, the image is still sharp. The other two vulture shots are quite pleasing too.

Griffon VultureWhite Headed VultureWhite Backed Vulture

On the ground these vultures are not the prettiest birds around however  when flying, with outstretched wings and head tucked in they look quite magnificent, particularly as they soar just a few feet overhead. It is sad to note that the White Backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), third shot, is on the endangered list and the White Headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis), middle shot, is classed as vulnerable. All because of mans relentless destruction of natural habitats for these creatures.

After coffee, overlooking the savannah with the many varieties of deer, antelopes and the giraffes, we walked around the perimeter. The male Lion was roaring away and getting playful with one of the females, but there was no sign of the cubs today. Similarly there was no sign of the female elephants, although Kibo was there, proving that the Bioparc is always changing and no two days are the same. We stopped for a while to look at the Meerkats, always a popular creature made even more so by the famous advertising campaign being run in the UK.

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This group has produced several babies, some of whom can be seen in these photos. Watching these for a while, at times it was hard to tell if they were play-fighting or going at it for real. Several Meerkats seemed to be viciously attacking one of them for some time but then returned to normal before turning their attentions to a different victim. None appeared to suffer lasting damage, so I can only assume that this was normal behaviour. Meerkats (also called suricates) work together in numbers. A few will typically serve as lookouts, watching the skies for birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles, that can snatch them from the ground. Even at the Bioparc, whenever a large bird flies overhead they immediately jump up looking skyward and start chattering away to each other. The ground in their enclosure is littered with holes and tunnels which serve as shelter, both from predators and from the heat of the midday sun.

continuing on our journey we came across the Panthers (Leopards) who were lazing in the sun as were the chimps and gorillas. As it was now mid afternoon many of the animals were taking a “siesta”, but still provided plenty of opportunity for us to take more photos. As is often the way, the young were still full of energy whilst their parents were quite happy to sit and rest…given the chance!

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I’m glad to report that my friends enjoyed their day at the Bioparc and were impressed with the layout and the animals. Hopefully they benefitted from my ‘limited’ knowledge, who knows maybe I could get a job as a guide one day.


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