We’ve been enjoying an uncharacteristically sunny interlude for about the last week and, even though it was a weekend and was likely to be swarming with rugrats, our friends at Whipsnade Zoo beckoned. This was in part encouraged by the fact that our friends Steve and Rosemary were going to be there for a birthday trip (Rosemary’s) and would be able to make use of our remaining awarded-to-members, soon-to-expire half price vouchers. The theme of the day seemed to be water.
Our first interesting stop of the day turned out to be the brown bears. One obligingly wandered into their pool and began rummaging around pulling up and investigating pawfuls of stuff from the bottom. Perseverance paid off and it eventually dredged up a prize carrot. Yummy! Eventually, after a few further dredges failed to produce more goodies, it tried to leave the pool but another bear took exception and the claws, fur and water began to fly. Could this have been the proverbial bear with a sore head?
Water was on the agenda again at the penguin pool. One pair on the bank was exhibiting either nesting behaviour or courtship behaviour; I suspect courtship since I’m not sure that penguins actually build nests. I can’t sex penguins (fortunately) but I’m guessing it was a male holding some material in its beak in an attempt to impress a female. Meanwhile, in the pool, the Olympic Antarctic Synchronized Swimming Duo was putting in some serious practice time, presumably in preparation for glory at London, 2012. Thankfully, I had my polarizing filter with me.
The generally reliable short-clawed otters were being their usual playful selves in the sunshine scampering and squeaking around their enclosure with occasional excursions into the water. The Caribbean Flamingoes spend most of their time in the water, of course, but were obligingly close to the fence for some close-up shots.
Finally on dry land, a second trip through the lemur enclosure proved worthwhile. On our first attempt they had been huddling in inactivity. They were now more active wandering along the fence close to a noticeably reduced public and occasionally posing for portraits instead of hiding their endearing faces.
The star picture of the day, however, didn’t come from one of Whipsnade’s inmates. As we were wandering around near the lions and cheetahs traditionally doing nothing but snoozing in the grass, a red kite drifted over us. Helped by a little luck, so often needed (in this case, the camera already being set on a little over-exposure) Carol managed to grab a very clear shot of it as it passed over head. Its wings looked odd when we examined the result later. It turned out to have two tags, one red and one black, which you can just see on the leading edge of each wing.