Monday, September 22, 2008

Photo Friday -the extraordinary

About 15 years ago, a couple of wolves crossed the border from Italy to France and since then around 50 have made their home in the Mercantour National Park. Wolves were previously extinct in France since 1937.

These wolves are Italian wolves ,Canis lupus italicus, also known as Apennine wolves and they are a sub species of the European Grey wolf.

These are some pictures of Italian wolves taken at Parc Alpha. They are semi-wild and like the other wolves in the parc are deliberately not habituated to humans or tamed as they are part of a breeding programme and the idea is that the offspring will be as wild as possible.

Wolves are viewed from specially constructed hides and they will stay in the treeline or leave if they hear too much noise. All the photos are taken through double glazed windows.

This is another pack of wolves at the parc - these are from eastern Europe. They are quite a bit bigger than the Italian wolves.

We were lucky enough to arrive at this hide when the wolves were feeding.

This is one of the two cubs belonging to this pack. According to the warden, we were very lucky to see the young one as they usually hide in the trees and have food brought to them.
he was quite bold and boucny, like a half grown Alsatian puppy.

This is one of the older pack members taking food back to some of the females and other cub.
Wolves will cache prey for leaner times and I was amazed when these wolves started to dig in front of us to cache some meat.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

photo friday- relationship

Humans have a complex relationship with animals. We destroy their habitats and then we try and save them

These are several ring-tailed lemurs, Lemur catta, with my son. The photos were taken at a small wildlife park in Tenerife , Canary Islands which is working to conserve and breed lemurs of various kinds , tamarins monkeys and some other species of small primates and also acts as a rescue centre [mainly for squirrel monkeys].

I think the lemurs decided my son was their friend, or maybe a very large two-tailed lemur. I think his camouflage trousers looked sufficiently 'ring-tailed' for him to be adopted as an honorary member of the group.
The lemurs took turn about to sit in his lap and be stroked , I think all of the lemurs snuggled up close to him and most of them climbed on him.

This seemed to be the Shakespearian Thespian among the lemurs - he seemed to be practising for a lemur version of Hamlet.
Alas, poor Yorick.Then he ate the prop and showed off his long , sharp canine teeth.

Lemurs are native to Madagascar and most lemur species are threatened or endangered. They are omnivorous though they tend to eat fruit and leaves mostly, with insects and small animals , lizards etc as smaller part of the diet.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Photo Friday- the ordinary

The Common Blackbird [Turdus merula] is a very ordinary bird but its also one of my favourites.
They always seem quite inquisitive and cheeky and i suppose i can easily imagine them popping out of a pie as they do in the Sing a song of sixpence nursery rhyme .

The strange thing about blackbirds is that they are not all black. Only the adult males are truly black [with a bright orange beak], the females and the young are brownish.

This part -brown part-black blackbird is a first winter male. Eventually, all his brown freathers will tuurn black.

This male actually has some greyish-blue feathers that tone well with the scattered flower petals.

Somewhat oddly, its quite common for blackbirds to have white patches.
Completely white blackbirds which generally aren't true albinos are also possible. they are called albinistic forms and they generally have normal coloursed eyes bills and legs and varying degrees of white feathers from completely white to a speckling .

This young blackbird is hiding behind some leaves thinking that its completely hidden - lucklily I was only hunting him with a camera.

These photos are all digiscoped using a small 10x40 monocular . Digiscoping means taking photos through a spotting scope or telecope to increase the range of the camera [ usually for nature photograhy of birds or animals but its also a technique used by astronomers].