Monday, August 1, 2011

2011 WEEK 30 & 31: On Safari! Part I

Gosh its been a busy couple of weeks. Plans were made to get out and snap some awesome pictures and at every turn those plans were scuppered by work commitments, unexpected turns and miserable Vancouver weather. Thankfully the July long weekend finally cooperated and I got a chance to take lots and lots of pictures on a mini safari adventure to the Greater Vancouver Zoo. So many pictures in fact, I'm going to make up for lost time and post at least a couple of entries in the coming days - so come back again soon.

Growing up in Jersey in the Channel Islands, I was spoiled when it came to viewing endangered species thanks to Gerald Durrell's Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (now known as Durrell). I'd only visited the Vancouver Zoo once before many years ago and remember being underwhelmed by the experience. The bad publicity the Vancouver Zoo received a few years back kept me from ever giving the place a second chance.

Until now.

And what an awesome day it turned out to be!

Located minutes off of Highway 1, the Greater Vancouver Zoo is about an hour drive outside of the city and for $25 it's comparable with many other local attractions. Though there are the usual over-priced concessions etc. ($18/hour for a quad bike rental!) there are many picnic areas throughout the well-maintained park. Bring a packed lunch and you're good to go.

But enough about the facilities. How about the wildlife?

When you first enter the park there's a nice little petting zoo with rabbits, chickens, goats etc. Not exactly an endangered species but this next fellow might be come Thanksgiving...

Looking as unattractive as possible obviously wasn't an adaptation that deterred predators for the poor turkey... Higher up the food chain, this Lynx didn't seem to have a care in the world... When you've got an old cardboard box to sleep in, why worry about a thing?

I am an unashamedly proud cat person. Cats have always been a part of my life and so it was fascinating to see habits that I've seen many, many times before be played out by other species of cat far wilder and bigger than the kind I'm used to. This lioness didn't have a box big enough to sleep in but she had grass to lie amid...

Plenty of time for a good yawn...

A friend to share some love with...

...And clearly not a care in the world!

This is one super relaxed cat...

Getting pictures of wildlife is challenging at the best of times. Movement is unpredictable and often fast, many animals being, well- WILD in nature, don't want to be close to humans (can't say I blame them) and even in a wildlife park, there are protective fences etc. to contend with. You'll notice a lot of these photos have blurry/softish lines through them - that's the chain link fence. The trick is to use a long lens and a steady hand and hope you're lucky enough that the wildlife is in a good enough mood to spoil you with a close up. I'd say I got really lucky...

This next picture is a Peregrine Falcon. I would not want to try snapping his picture while in flight... He's the fastest member of the animal kingdom clocking in at a staggering 325 km/hr. when in a hunting dive!

This next fellow isn't nearly as speedy but has a certain gangly grace unmatched by any other species. There's something about his perpetual sardonic expression that I love.

There's a beauty to every species. With some its easy to see. Others require the best angle. Take for example the Baboon. With their bulbous, bright red, almost painful-looking behinds, they can definitely be off-putting. Several of the photos I took of them were far too gross to show here but thankfully this one showed me his best side.

I have many, many more images to share so check back again over the next few days!

Until then... Happy July long weekend!