Archive For The “Animals & Insects” Category

Master of the skies

Master of the skies

Master of the skies

Master of the skies, a Vulture on the hunt for an unfortunate prey. This photograph was captured at Colchester Zoo, was an amazing experience capturing these birds and the staff put on a decent display.

The Vulture

Vulture is the name given to two groups of scavenging birds of prey: the New World vultures, including the Californian and Andean condors; and the Old World vultures, including the birds that are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains. Research has shown that some traditional Old World vultures (including the bearded vulture) are not closely related to the others, which is why the vultures are to be subdivided into three taxa rather than two. New World vultures are found in North and South America; Old World vultures are found in Europe, Africa and Asia, meaning that between the two groups, vultures are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

A particular characteristic of many vultures is a bald head, devoid of normal feathers. Although it has been historically believed to help keep the head clean when feeding, research has shown that the bare skin may play an important role in thermoregulation. Vultures have been observed to hunch their bodies and tuck in their heads in the cold, and open their wings and stretch their necks in the heat.

A group of vultures is called a wake, committee, venue, kettle, or volt. The term kettle refers to vultures in flight, while committee, volt, and venue refer to vultures resting in trees. Wake is reserved for a group of vultures that are feeding.The word Geier (taken from the German language) does not have a precise meaning in ornithology; it is occasionally used to refer to a vulture in English, as in some poetry – Wikipedia

Pigeon Posse

Pigeon Posse

These local thugs are well known on the River Wensum, they are either after your food or depositing their waste on your car! When capturing these birds they literally didn’t take their eyes off me.

Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae, which includes about 310 species.

Pigeons are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short, slender bills (and in some species, these bills feature fleshy ceres.) They primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones.

In general, the terms “dove” and “pigeon” are used somewhat interchangeably. Pigeon is a French word that derives from the Latin pipio, for a “peeping” chick, while dove is a Germanic word that refers to the bird’s diving flight. In ornithological practice, “dove” tends to be used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically, the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms. The species most commonly referred to as “pigeon” is the rock dove, one subspecies of which, the domestic pigeon, is common in many cities as the feral pigeon.

Doves and pigeons build relatively flimsy nests – often using sticks and other debris – which may be placed in trees, on ledges, or on the ground, depending on species. They lay one or two eggs at a time, and both parents care for the young, which leave the nest after seven to 28 days. Unlike most birds, both sexes of doves and pigeons produce “crop milk” to feed to their young, secreted by a sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop. Young doves and pigeons are called “squabs”.

Owl Butterfly

Owl Butterfly

Beautiful South American Owl Butterfly, this was captured at Colchester Zoo and not in it’s natural habitat unfortunately. The butterflies are massive in size and very elegant.

An owl butterfly is a butterfly, in the genus Caligo, known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls’ eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America.

Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly in dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods. Caligo means darkness.

Some owl butterflies form leks in mating behavior – Wikipedia

The underwing pattern is highly cryptic. It is conceivable that the eye pattern is a generalized form of mimicry. It is known that many small animals hesitate to go near patterns resembling eyes with a light-colored iris and a large pupil, which matches the appearance of the eyes of many predators that hunt by sight. The main predators of Caligo are apparently small lizards such as Anolis – Wikipedia



A beautiful English swan captured at Wroxham in Norfolk, UK. The photograph is deep, dark and full of rich contrast, with line of focus paying attention to the swan’s beak.

Swans are birds of the family Anatidae within the genus Cygnus. The swans’ close relatives include the geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. There are six or seven species of swan in the genus Cygnus; in addition there is another species known as the coscoroba swan, although this species is no longer considered one of the true swans. Swans usually mate for life, though “divorce” does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure, and if a mate dies, the remaining swan will take up with another. The number of eggs in each clutch ranges from three to eight. – Wikipedia

Little Monkey

Little Monkey

Little Monkey, a Marmoset monkey captured at Shorelands Wildlife Gardens in Norfolk.

The marmosets are 22 New World monkey species of the genera Callithrix, Cebuella, Callibella, and Mico. All four genera are part of the biological family Callitrichidae. The term marmoset is also used in reference to the Goeldi’s marmoset, Callimico goeldii, which is closely related.

Most marmosets are about 20 centimetres (8 in) long. Relative to other monkeys, they show some apparently primitive features: they have claws rather than nails, and tactile hairs on their wrists. They lack wisdom teeth, and their brain layout seems to be relatively primitive. Their body temperature is unusually variable, changing by up to 4C (7F) in a day. Marmosets are native to South America and have been found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. They have also been spotted in Central America and Mexico. They are also raised in captivity as pets.

According to recent research, marmosets exhibit germline chimerism, which is not known to occur in nature in any primates other than callitrichids. Ninety-five percent of marmoset fraternal twins trade blood through chorionic fusions, making them hematopoietic chimeras – Wikipedia

Demon Tortoise

Demon Tortoise

Demon Tortoise, this extremely large tortoise was captured at Colchester Zoo, UK. The light in its eye is actually natural, however I have enhanced it slightly. Beautiful graceful creatures.

Giant tortoises are characteristic reptiles that are found on two groups of tropical islands: the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles and the Galapagos Islandsin Ecuador (a population at the Mascarene Islands was exterminated by the 1900s) . These tortoises can weigh as much as 417 kg (919 lb) and can grow to be 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) long. Giant tortoises originally made their way to islands from the mainland; for example, Aldabra Atoll and Mascarenesgiant tortoises are related to Madagascar tortoises while Galapagos giant tortoises are related to Ecuador mainland tortoises. This phenomenon of excessive growth is known as islands gigantism or insular gigantism. It occurs when the size of the animals that are isolated on an islands increases dramatically in comparison to their mainland relatives. This is due to several factors such as relaxed predation pressure, competitive release, or as an adaptation to increased environmental fluctuations on islands. These animals belong to an ancient group of reptiles, appearing about 250 million years ago. By the Upper Cretaceous, 70 or 80 million years ago, some had already become gigantic. About 1 million years ago tortoises reached the Galápagos Islands. Most of the gigantic species began to disappear about 100,000 years ago. Only 250 years ago there were at least 20 species and subspecies in islands of the Indian Ocean and 14 or 15 subspecies in the Galápagos Islands – Wikipedia



Battle Chips

Battle Chips

Battle Chips, this photo was captured at Wroxham, Norfolk, UK. The section of the broads was full of birds, I couldn’t help but throw a few chips in the air and capture the carnage that followed.

Feeding birds in the garden is a popular activity – over half of adults in the UK feed birds in their garden. That’s a lot of extra help for the birds!

Providing birds with supplementary food will bring them closer for you to marvel at their fascinating behaviour and wonderful colours. It will also reward them for sharing their lives with you. Feeding birds is also an ideal way to enthuse children about wildlife.

Supplementary feeding can’t provide all the natural proteins and vitamins that adult and young birds need, so it’s important to create and manage your garden to provide a source of natural foods as well, through well-managed lawns, shrub and flowerbeds. – RSPB

Battle Ships

The title of this post is a play on words of the famous board game ‘Battle Ships’.  is a guessing game for two players. It is known worldwide as a pencil and paper game which dates from World War I. It was published by various companies as a pad-and-pencil game in the 1930s, and was released as a plastic board game by Milton Bradley in 1967. The purpose of the game is to destroy the opposing player’s battleships.

Things to do in Wroxham

Duck Tales, a birds life

Duck Tales, a birds life

Duck Tales

Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the waterfowl family Anatidae, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the family Anatidae. They do not represent a monophyletic group (the group of all descendants of a single common ancestral species) but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered ducks. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water.

Greylag Goose (featured Image)

The ancestor of most domestic geese, the Greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the wild geese native to the UK and Europe. In many parts of the UK it has been re-established by releasing birds in suitable areas, but the resulting flocks (often mixed with Canada geese) found around gravel pits, lakes and reservoirs all year round in southern Britain tend to be semi-tame and uninspiring. The native birds and wintering flocks found in Scotland retain the special appeal of truly wild geese.

Greylag geese are easily seen in lowland areas of the UK all year, sometimes even in suburban parks with lakes but especially on low-lying grassy fields in river valleys. Wild ones, however, are found mostly north of the Solway and can be seen at RSPB nature reserves such as Mersehead (Dumfries & Galloway), Vane Farm (Fife) and Loch of Strathbeg (Grampian) from September to April. Wild breeding greylags can be found at Forsinard (Caithnes & Sutherland).

Whitlingham Ducks

Egyptian Goose captured at Whitlingham Country Park

Egyptian Goose (above)

Related to the shelduck, this pale brown and grey goose has distinctive dark brown eye-patches and contrasting white wing patches in flight. It was introduced as an ornamental wildfowl species and has escaped into the wild, now successfully breeding in a feral state. Seen frequently on ornamental ponds where it was originally brought. Now can be seen on gravel pits and lowland lakes and wetlands. The north Norfolk coast holds the highest numbers; also in areas like the Norfolk Broads.

Photography Tips:

When photographing wildlife, one thing you need is patience. Patience is important because whilst you can control the camera and equipment, you cannot control nature. Nature doesn’t always work for you, so position yourself ready for the shot. A good zoom lens is ideal and some waterproof clothing, sometimes you have to get dirty to get close. If shooting during the day, you shouldn’t need a flash unless you want to control shadows etc.

Invasion of the bird snatchers

Invasion of the bird snatchers

Invasion of the bird snatchers

Absolute arial chaos, it seems pigeons are always hungry. These greedy blighters were battling the skies, all for a single chip. This photograph took several takes, an assistant helped with throwing the chips in the air. Shooting at high speeds is key to perfect a photograph like this. There is little time to think, move and react when zoomed in. The photograph reminded of an invasion, birds in this case.


Wroxham and Hoveton St. John are two connected villages, split by the River Bure. Most of the village facilities are actually in Hoveton, but are generally known as Wroxham. Boats of all kinds are for hire and there are also an abundance of hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops. Most of the shopping is dominated around the Roy’s brand, claiming to be the worlds largest village store! Wroxham contains many visitor attractions including a riverside park. The Bure Valley steam railway and Hoveton Hall gardens and Wroxham Barns craft centre is also local. The village certainly is a busy spot in high season, but is open all year round and is well worth a visit at any time of the year. A little way out of the village centre is Wroxham Broad, home to the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club. Large free car-parks can be found behind Roy’s department store. – TourNorfolk

Photography tips:

Wildlife photography can be challenging, challenges such as: weather, unpredictability, location and equipment. Best to plan ahead, think about what is required for the session. Animals will not always do what you want, so patience is key. I also advise to invest in good clothing, especially waterproof trousers. Very likely you may find yourself in awkward positions when capturing wildlife. Telephoto lenses are also recommended due to the advantage of distance, too close and you will frighten the subject.


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