Pictures by Walter

A View With Every Picture


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20170626 – Laugh of the Kookaburra

Walk-through Aviary Re-opened

On our two previous visits to Five Sisters Zoo the walk-through aviary was closed due to the threat/possibility of avian – flu. Being a bird lover I think this is one of the best things in a zoo.  It may not be big, but it has loose flying birds which act naturally and not caged.  Admittedly there are cages birds in the zoo, may hap some day they will join the others in the walk-though aviary. On this visit it was as if the Kookaburra was celebrating the re-opening of the Aviary as his/her laughing call could be heard all over the zoo.

(1) Kookaburra

(1)  Head profile of Kookaburra- Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f6.3, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 155 mm,  Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 100 

What Plant?

As we walked up to the Bears’ enclosure we enjoyed the blooms and bushes which surround the walkways.  Indeed the Zoo has a lovely new walk “The Secret Garden” unfortunately we did not get a chance to walk through it as it was still in preparation.  One of the bushes caught our eye and we have been trying to identify it ever since.

(2) What Plant ? – Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f14, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 250 mm,  Shutter 1/320th sec ISO 1600 

(2) What plant?

 Walk with a Bear

We have been lucky this year, seeing the lions and the bears on each visit.  Today it felt as if the bear was giving us a tour of her spacious home which she shares with two other ex-circus (rescued) bears.  Believe me when you read their story you will realise that their caged area is indeed spacious.

(3) Walk with a Bear

(3) Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f6.3, Sigma 150-500 mm Zoom @ 500 mm,  Shutter 1/500th sec ISO 800

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Not far from the bear enclosure the ex circus lions have a spacious pad with a view.  However, like all cats the spend most of their time sleeping.  Seeing the size of their paws I’d just let them sleep.

(4) Let Sleeping Cats Lie

(4) Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f5.6, Sigma 150-5000 mm Zoom @ 290 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 200

Stalking Wolf

Across from the lion enclosure the Arctic Wolves normally patrol the perimeter of their space.  This visit coincided with feeding time and gave me the chance to capture a wolf stalking they keeper (who was outside the fence) and the feed bin :).

(5) Stalking Wolf

(5) Stalking Wolf : Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f6.3, Sigma 150-5000 mm Zoom @ 340 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 800

Gallery

Baby fascinated by Ring Tailed Lemur

 


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Hiatus – How to bridge Gap in Blog?

Due to personal life effecting events this blog came to a grinding halt in June/August 2016. However life carried on as did my photography.  My partner had been diagnosed with uterine cancer in September 2015.  During the operation to remove the cancer her urethra tube (right side) was damaged.  It was several months before the tube was healed enough to allow the Chemo treatment to be started.  I know my partner was stressed during this time and so was I.   Thankfully that is all behind us now and we can relax a little bit. So How to bridge the gap?

January 2016:   Due to Susan’s immune system being shot to hell, so to speak,we were restricted on outings.  We did make one outing to Bavelaw/Thriepmuir reservoirs on 30th January.  There is a nice hide sited at the reservoir to allow bird watching in a modicum of comfort.  Unfortunately the cold was a bit too much for Susan so we cut the outing short.  It was the start of a long climb for her.

February 2016:  Visit to Bracklinn Falls near Callander in the Highlands of Scotland.  We were lucky with the weather.  Due to stamina or lack thereof it took us longer to do the short walk.  We plan to return and have added it to our list.  Said list is getting longer and longer. Click on image right to see gallery.

March 2016: We paid a visit to the Kelpies at Helix Park Falkirk.

The Kelpies are 30-metre-high horse-head sculptures, standing next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal, and near River Carron, in The Helix, a new parkland project built to connect 16 communities in the Falkirk Council Area, Scotland. Wikipedia

April 2016: We paid a visit to Ballymack Hill Farm, Castle Douglas to spend some time with the fascinating Red Kites (Milvus milvus).  It takes 3 hours for us to get to that farm, but it really is worth it to see the spectacular flying display of these birds.  The problem for a photographer or bird enthusiast is where to look! At first it looks as if there are no birds around and all is quiet.  Then the silence is broken by the call of a kite.  Gradually the surrounding trees begin to show signs of the Kites arriving. Then the prefeed display starts.  (Click on image below to view gallery)

 


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Image Manipulation!

Image manipulation causes quite a “stushie”, “stooshie” as we say in Scotland. (Stushie/stooshie = tizzy, fuss, much ado about…).  Images on FB have been labelled (incorrectly) as being “photoshopped” as if that was a heinous offence.  Adobe Photoshop is the undisputed champion for image manipulation, in fact skilled users can create a photographic image with a photograph being taken.  Without doubt Photoshop is powerful, complex and the bees knees for image manipulation.  I do have Photoshop CC s part of the Adobe package, but I do not use it.  Why you ask? (Okay so you may not ask 🙂 ).  I use Adobe Lightroom with Google Nik collection add-in. Lightroom is the digital equivalent of the old chemical “Dark Room”.  I shoot in RAW format ,despite the fact that the modern DSLR creates a very acceptable JPG image, and use Lightroom to adjust the RAW (digtal negative) to produce the finished JPG export via Tif (used for printing).  I have installed the excellent Nik software plug-in into Lighroom so I am able to do the extra tweaks to the image to bring out the details, colours and contrast from the original image.  The original image of “Bath Time for Junior”, taken with a Nikon D5300 fitted with a Sigma 150-500 (1:5-6.3) zoom lens and taken through the double glazed window in my living-room.  ISO: 640, f/6.3, 1/200 sec at 500 mm.  Camera was set up for RAW and for neutral image colour.  Image below is a straight non processed of the RAW file from Lightroom.
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I started in Development mode in Lightroom I selected: enable profile correction; remove chromatic aberration; constrain crop.  In basic mode (development) I reduced highlights to -74. At this stage I opted to edit in Colour Effex 4 (Nik plug in).  I used three presets and tweaked as required, Extract detail ( minimum), Pro Contrast (Dynamic Contrast – corrects colour cast and contrast), finally Darken lighten centre.  This resulted in the finished image below:

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No cloning, no removing or adding details simple tweaks to bring out what was in the original image.  Yes I do image manipulation, no I do not photoshop I have no need to  – I use Lightroom.


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Bath Time for Junior

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) can be entertaining, noisy and at time a pest. I am either blessed or cursed as they visit my feeding stations regularly – especially at this particular time of year.  It is the time of the fledglings – and this year’s crop are as noisy as last year’s and the year before.  Great entertainment watching the parent scarper about fetching food and the fledgling being insistent that it is fed.  However it is also the time of parting as it is the time when the fledgling is abandoned to its’ fate.  One second it is being fed, the next – it is no longer.  Time for it to feed itself and become a feisty bird.  Sadly this year I have not had the usual colourful garden birds however, the Starlings have made up for them.  Yesterday I captured on camera a fledgling experiencing a bath in my water feature.  Sometime working on a computer near the window has its’ compensations.

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At the Feeder 11th May 2016

I go away for a night and two days and come home to find I have a dead PC  or rather a system op corruption.  Thankfully I have all my data and installation discs backed up and kept safe.  Mind you it has taken since Sunday 8th to Wednesday 11th to get the system back up to speed.  Thankfully the system was the one in my living-room and I could always get distracted by watching the birds that visit my simple garden.  Truth be told I think that may be the reason why it took so long to get the system back up.  I sat watching a small Coal Tit (Parus ater) as it made a meal of a sunflower seed.  Later in the afternoon I watched to Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) as they had an after meal bathe.

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At the Feeder 6 May 2016

Early morning visitor to the “Chez Walter” facilities was the little Coal Tit (Parus ater).  It took the opportunity of a quite garden to indulge in breakfast of Sunflower seeds and the luxury of a cold water bath.  20160506-_DSC4304-Edit


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At the Feeder 5 May 2016

20160429-_MG_7995-EditBusy day today doing other tasks – still managed to keep one eye on “Chez Walter” feeders.  Very early visit by Coal Tit (Parus ater), to early for me and too quick for me to grab my camera and get a shot of him/her. These little birds are very quick, quick to land on the feeder, quick to get a sunflower seed and quicker to scapper with the seed to a place where they can eat it in safety.

The regulars were in force today, 4 Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus), several squawking  Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) fighting over the small fat pellets and the stately pair of Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).  The feeders or rather the water feature, a pump, was graced by the visit of an old friend, Robin (Erithacus rebecla).

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At the Feeder – 3 May 2016

May – the green month, the month trees show the new green leaves, grass appears to been repainted with a bright green and skies go blue with fluffy white clouds.  The reality is the exact opposite, high wind, rain and cold. No new bird visitors have been seen over the last 3 days. I did have a very fleeting glimpse of a Siskin (Carduelis carduelis) on Saturday however, it was a very brief stop at one of the feeders then flew off, not enough time to get a photo of it.  The stalwarts pay frequent visits and an increase the sparrows or to give correct name House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).  The Dunnock pair are very frequent visitors at present, though I think it will only be one visiting soon as they hatch their eggs.  One favourite visitor is the Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).  I do like this bird.  The visitors appear to be a pair – with one of them having a feather coming out of the wing.    I’ve been using three cameras over the past week Canon 50D, Canon 60D and a compact zoom Canon SX50 HS.  This image of the Collared Dove with the loose feather was taken with the Canon SX50  HS.

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What a Bird Brain… An Insult!

20160501-_MG_6824I’ve used that expression myself without really thinking about the phrase.  It is generally a mildly insulting phrase denotes silly behaviour, actions or thoughts usually attributed to a child or immature person.  Yet birds are not silly, in fact their brains control flight and are really ideal for the bird, perhaps not for a human. Do birds have silly behaviour? I cannot say what thoughts they have. What I do know from my own observations is that they are quite smart, especially the Crow family.  I sit at my computer overlooking my small garden which I call “Chez Walter”  Since 2012 I’ve watched Starling work out how to get into feeders which have access for small birds only.  Today I sat and watched a Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), work out how to land into a suspended table type feeder (shown left).    The Collared Dove is about the size of a small pigeon:

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The bird assessed the situation, there was seed in in the feeder which was suspended from a hook on a stance.  One side was blocked by the stance pole leaving three sides with limited flight path to a tight opening.    A quick flick of the wings a short flight and a hop and the bird was inside the feeder – perhaps not fully, but enough to get the seed.  Mr or Mrs Collared Dove enjoyed the rewards of his/her efforts.  Next time I looked up there were two doves inside the feeder – alas I did not manage to get a shot of them….next time I’ll have the camera ready

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The other day I watched a Magpie (Pica pica) take some dried meal worms drop then into a small birdbath of water fly away.  She came back approx 3 minutes collected some more dried mail worms drop them into another part of  the birdbath then collected her previous load.


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At the Feeder.. 29-4-2016

“Chez Walter” feeding station is now attracting the smaller garden birds along with Magpie (Pica pica),   Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus).  The ravages of winter have been repaired, though some work remains.  Broken feeders replaced, water features repaired and new gnomes adopted.  The larger birds soon came back as did the Starlings. However the smaller garden/woodland birds had not been seen since September last year.  Today 29th April “Chez Walter” had 7 specie of birds to the feeders.  First (as usual|) was the;

20160418-_DSC8517-EditWoodpigeon (Columba palumbus) in the rain

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Two special birds returned: one small garden bird the smallest Tit in UK :

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One of my firm favourites the Coal Tit (Parus ater).  The little bird flits in and out very quickly, pausing for s second or two to check out the area for danger.  Makes a quick flt to the feeder – usually for the Sunflower Seeds, gets one and flits out again.  Rarely does it pause to eat the seed in my smallish trees – it heads fro higher and safer spots.  A welcome return wsa also extended to a larger woodland bird the Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto). 20160429-_MG_8030-Edit

Whilst the little Coal Tit is mostly Grey and black with white patches, the Collared Dove is almost all grey with a pinkish-buff Collar-band round the neck.  Perhaps a bit bland for most tastes however in sunshine the birds feathers take on a lustre and the ruby eyes  light up and sparkle.