Sophie and I had a grand excursion Southwards to visit some places in North Yorkshire, and one of those places was the Kirkleatham Owl Center in the borough of Redcar. It’s a conservation place and they look after all sorts, guinea pigs, rabbits, snakes, reptiles, but mostly birds. I am not a fan of caged birds, even in big enclosures, but also love seeing the colourful birds we don’t have over here, owls and birds of prey, close up, so am always a bit torn about them. These people look after, and give a home to injured ones.
I stupidly forgot to write down what each bird is, though I can recognise a couple, so sorry for that, and if anyone recognises one, feel free to comment and I can add it.
That’s it for this week, short and sweet 😊, I’ll be back next week with more purdy burdies. 🦆 🐓 o stay tooned.
Sophie came. back to England for a few days with her hubby Mentat, and we had decided to take Mentat to Raby Castle as it’s just about the most spectacular one. We also love the formal walled garden for the amount of butterflies and bees that grace the flowers, and the chance of seeing deer is pretty high too, so lots to see and admire. Phil came too.
Well, what the website doesn’t tell you is that the grounds of Raby Castle are undergoing monumental upheaval and they’ve completely dug up the formal garden,
This is a little of what is lost.
“Formally developed into a pleasure garden for the family, the existing ornamental garden will be redesigned to provide an outdoor space where visitors can move through planting or attend performances and events.” Performances and events, no doubt for which you pay extra.
The café we usually go to which was in the old stables is also undergoing renovations.
“The buildings, designed by architect John Carr in the 18th century are Grade 2 listed, will be restored and repurposed to provide retail and interpretation spaces.” Not sure what interpretation spaces are, but I sure know what ‘retail spaces’ means!
There’s also going to be a Play Area :- “A new feature, the play area will offer play for children aged 4-10 years old and will be built within the original Christmas Tree plantation to the north of the Castle, Park and Gardens”.
Now Sophie and I do comprehend that people who own small people have to take them out and about at weekends and school holidays, especially in the nice weather. We just don’t like it when they take them out to places we visit. On the whole the small things are pushy, noisy, ill mannered and immune to any attempts at control by their owners (if indeed the owners bother) so this is not good news.
There’s a lot more to it, the development is called ‘The Rising’ and will take 2 years to complete.
The castle will remain as it is, and the deerpark, but according to Lord Barnard who owns Raby :-
Raby Castle has welcomed visitors since the 18th Century, but felt it was “still very much under the radar, and it has a huge amount to share.”
His motivation for the scheme, he said, “is to really open up the castle and the estate to a great many more people to enjoy.”
“With a new generation it is time for a new beginning, and we want to make sure that Raby is preserved for future generations to enjoy as well as our own.”
Which is all poshspeak for ‘not enough people visit to pay for the upkeep of it all’, so I don’t suppose I can blame him, it must cost a fortune to run. The total investment will be in the region of £14 million and paid for by proceeds from new housing developments in Gainford and Staindrop, consisting of 151 houses :- including 3-bedroomed family, 2-bedroomed cottages, single storey dwellings and apartments. I don’t think they will be ‘affordable housing’ sites!
Anyway, disappointed as we were about the garden, which was shut off, we went inside the castle and had a walk through the deer park, and had lunch in the new Yurt Café.
I didn’t take any pictures inside the Castle, I’ve already done a 7 part post on Raby which starts HERE if you haven’t seen those and want to, which is quite comprehensive. Also when I’m out with non-photographers the dynamic for photography just isn’t the same, but I did take a shot of the Castle and we came across some deer.
Sophie and will go back in 2 or 3 years and see what’s become of it all so stay tooned for that! 🥴
Before we get to the Snow Leopards we’ll have a quick look at some other residents in the zoo.
They have Shetland Ponies, which always remind me of the wonderful books by Norman Thelwell I read as a kid.
I’d thought these were Ostriches when I first visited, but nope, they are Greater Rheas, which are smaller, and are the largest birds in South America. They are related to ostriches and emu’s and like them, can’t fly. Seems a bit daft to me to be a bird and unable to fly, but hey ho each to his/her own.
Before the big cats arrived the only other felines at the zoo were a pair of Canadian Lynx and these proved to be quite elusive in their large enclosure as it is full of tall plants, but this day I at least got to see them sleeping.
The Canadian lynx, is a North American wild cat that ranges in forest and tundra regions across Canada and into Alaska, as well as some parts of the northern United States. Historically, the Canadian lynx ranged from Alaska across Canada and into many of the northern U.S. states. It’s a good climber and swimmer; it constructs rough shelters under fallen trees or rock ledges. It has a thick coat and broad paws, and is twice as effective as the bobcat at supporting its weight on the snow. The Canada lynx feeds almost exclusively on snowshoe hares; its population is highly dependent on the population of this prey animal. It will also hunt medium-sized mammals and birds if hare numbers fall.
The new arrivals now, firstly the Arctic Foxes.
The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), also known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox, is a small fox native to the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. It is well adapted to living in cold environments, and is best known for its thick, warm fur that is also used as camouflage. It has a large and very fluffy tail. In the wild, most individuals do not live past their first year but some exceptional ones survive up to 11 years. Its body length ranges from 46 to 68 cm (18 to 27 in), with a generally rounded body shape to minimize the escape of body heat.
Arctic foxes must endure a temperature difference of up to 90–100 °C (160–180 °F) between the external environment and their internal core temperature. To prevent heat loss, the Arctic fox curls up tightly tucking its legs and head under its body and behind its furry tail. This position gives the fox the smallest surface area to volume ratio and protects the least insulated areas. Arctic foxes also stay warm by getting out of the wind and residing in their dens Although the Arctic foxes are active year-round and do not hibernate, they attempt to preserve fat by reducing their locomotor activity. They build up their fat reserves in the autumn, sometimes increasing their body weight by more than 50%. This provides greater insulation during the winter and a source of energy when food is scarce.
Natural predators of the Arctic fox are golden eagles,Arctic wolves, polar bears, wolverines, red foxes, and grizzly bears. Not many of those in Northumberland so these two can live a long life.
FInally the Snow Leopards. These beautiful big cats are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, the global population is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and is expected to decline about 10% by 2040. The snow leopard shows several adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous environment. Its small rounded ears help to minimize heat loss. Its broad paws well distribute the body weight for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase the grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it also helps to minimize heat loss. Its long and flexible tail helps to maintain balance in the rocky terrain. The tail is very thick due to fat storage, and is covered in a thick layer of fur, which allows the cat to use it like a blanket to protect its face when asleep.
I took so many photos I couldn’t choose which one or two to post, so I made a couple of short videos to show them off. The ladies names are Nieva and Karli.
So that’s that. Next week we’ll be off to someotherwhere so stay tooned for that!
all pictures embiggenable when you clickerate them full album with more birds, animals etc HERE.
I’ve been to this zoo a couple of times before, once with Sophie back in 2017 when it had only been been open 2 years, and then in 2019 with a couple of my grandkids.
Since then the zoo has expanded and now has two Arctic Foxes, and even more exciting, 2 snow leopards. They had to be visited of course, (cats R us 😊) so off Sophie and I went.
Firstly we stopped to see the Black Tailed Prairie Dogs which are also new to us. They are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They look quite cute and comical for big rats!
Next are the Meerkats, small Mongooses, (or should that be Mongeese? Not sure, anyway, Mongoose plural) found in southern Africa.
The aviary is the next stop, and whilst caged birds hurt my soul, they have some beauties here.
I’d photographed the owls etc previously so didn’t spend much time there. We went off to see the ring tailed lemurs but came across the Raccoon section first. Native to North America they are so cute!
The ringtailed lemurs are great to visit as you are allowed to walk through their space. They don’t attack people (which is good of them I think) and they gambol about swinging from trees and generally have a high old time.
Another ratty beasty is a giant rodent from South America called Capybara, they’re semi-aquatic which means they spend a lot of time in water, they even mate under-water. That sounds fun! 😀
The giant tortoises were amazing to see, they look quite pre-historic. The one at the top is a Sulcata tortoise, also known as African Spurred Tortoises, they can grow to be one of the largest reptiles, weighing in at over 90 kilos. The one at the bottom is a Leopard tortoise and they can live to be over 100 years and weigh up to 55 kilos. They are named for their distinctive yellow colouration with black spots, similar to a leopard. Hmm, can’t really see it myself. I didn’t think of leopards when I saw them anyway.
That will do for this time, stay tooned though for next week when we get to the big cats and doggies.
This week is kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back, actually several straws, and I consider the whole week AAFP’s. ‘Wildlife’ for goodness sakes. Face palming and eyerolling all the way through this. Consequently I have had to cheat i.e I shot 3 of the prompts when on a photography outing with Sophie this past weekend on a trip to Bolam Lake. On the whole Wardley, Gateshead tends not to have deer or hippo’s and the like wandering around Dunkeld Close or Parklands Way, no giraffe’s use the local Londis store, and though I have seen an urban fox on our night vision hedgehog camera, that’s only been twice, and s/he doesn’t turn up in the daytime, or come when you call. The weather has turned rainy and grey again too and very cold now, so not much sign of insects, slugs or snails either. Still, I’ve done what I can to get through the week, so let’s crack on.
Abbreviations you may come across during this post. AFAC~ airy fairy abstract concept. AAFP ~ annoying as F-bomb prompt. CBBP ~ completely bloody barking prompt.HDBS ~ hippy dippy bull****. AWP! ~ Absolutely wonderful prompt!
Also- there may be swearing.
Day 290 ~ Happy. ~ How exciting. This is the week to get outside and find the wild things! Birds, insects, animals, fish or even your pets if wildlife just isn’t your thing or you simply can’t find any! My grandson was so happy when he caught his first fish! It was a huge thrill for him even though it was just a sucker. We always do a ‘catch and release’ so no animals were harmed in the taking of this picture.
Mrs.Cocktail dress at least gives me the option of pets if no wildlife is available, but that’s such a cop out I think. Happy wildlife? Maybe, maybe not, but I was happy to get this shot of the swan and gull nodding to each other as the swan passed by.
Day 291 ~ Scene. ~ Today you can take the word Scene in any direction! It could be a scene that includes wildlife or you could show a wild life on display! I chose to put our beach spin on the latter… most fall days at the beach are anything but wild especially when fishing! It requires relaxing patience to wait for the wildlife to show up! Can’t wait to see which scene to happen across today!
So a ‘scene’ of the prompt lady relaxing on a chair at the beach with a fishing rod in her hand can be classed as a wildlife picture. 🤦♀️🙄 sigh. I despair, but there’s worse to come. Another ‘cheat’ shot from Bolam Lake. At least there IS wildlife in it.
Day 292 ~ prompt free. Prompt Free Days often bring to mind the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Some days, we feel restricted by the prompt, but on other days, no specific prompt makes us feel lost by having no point of departure. Think about these prompt free days as a check-in as to how this project is changing you. What do you notice that you would have overlooked previously? What small moments in you day now feel bigger and call to be documented? Today is a blank canvas for which all of the other prompts have prepared you.
I didn’t have a cheat for this one, so went for the cop out instead 🤣 taken after I got home from work. In fact our Winnie has some Bengal-cat DNA we found out from Sophie which explains a lot as she is mad bonkers wild when not asleep!
Day 293 ~ Climb. ~ This week we’re supposed to feature wildlife in our photos. Well as far as I’m concerned my two great-nephews are as wild as they come! The older one, Trace, loves the show American Ninja and loves to climb and do the obstacles that they feature on the show. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday he actually tries out for it. This playground is just around the corner from my house. I had never seen anything like it but these two just loved climbing and swinging between the posts. Wildlife comes in all forms. What climbing wildlife can you find today?
I did say there was worse to come didn’t I? I mean, SERIOUSLY!!?? “Wildlife comes in all forms”. Nephews! Pfft!! What is the point? Oh let’s give people a prompt and then totally bloody ignore it ourselves and post pics of our grandkids and nephews instead. FFS. AAFP +++ and CBBP. If I was a cartoon I’d have steam coming out of my ears. The only thing to do was subversion. And this isn’t even the end of worse to come. 🥴
Day 294 ~ Gather. How are you enjoying capturing Wild Life this week? Depending on where you live, this could be a challenge! Today’s prompt is gather. I thought about this golden field, and the deer gathering there. You could look for any animal. You could capture your subject gathering something (i.e. a squirrel gathering nuts) or you can look for animals gathering together.
I think you can tell how much I’m enjoying it. No deer, no squirrels and had my car in the garage having work done so no going out hunting. So I had one ready for this from when I took the last of the quadryptych last week.
But I really don’t like cheating so much. I noticed these shrooms when I walked back from dropping the car off, and I thought, well, they grow wild and are alive and in so many special ways! I recently watched a documentary called Fantastic Fungi on Amazon, and it blew my mind, here’s a 2 minute trailer so you get my drift, even 2 mins is jaw dropping.
Day 295 ~ Flame.~ This week has been about capturing wildlife or wild life. After a week of wildness, are you tired? Are you ready to kick your feet up and relax? I am. Around a warm fire is always a cozy way to relax. Maybe you can relax with family around a fire pit or in front of a fireplace. Perhaps you’ll share a quiet candlelight dinner with someone special. Or the flame that warms you today could be that of the sun as you relax outside with some wild ones, or not. The choice is yours.Whatever your day brings, may warmth and happiness be a part.
Can you imagine my apoplexy dear reader? This is beyond CBBP, AFAP and eyerolling with attached facepalm, and belongs in the What the actual f**kery department. Firepit?? Candlelight dinner??? What has any of that got to do with wildlife?? Anyone? No, me neither. And so, a decision is made. There are 70 days left in this 365 challenge, and I will keep going until the merciful end, but this level of ridiculosity will not be tolerated, and when prompts are this silly I will resort to ‘off~prompt’ days and shoot the cats or whatever else I fancy. So for today we have Lord Vincent, who can’t quite fit as snugly as Winnie does on the tree~house, but where there’s a will…
Day 296 ~ Bumpy. ~So the wildlife that I found was a frog, on my bumpy cobbled drive. What wildlife can you find today?
That could have been an impossible prompt but it was my day out shooting (or togging as we call it) with Sophie and we went to Northumberland. It was very exciting as they have recently added Arctic Foxes and Snow Leopards to the zoo which were glorious to see, one day when this is over I’ll share the photos! In the meantime they also have some tortoises, and this one is a Sulkata Tortoise, also known as African Spurred Tortoise, they can grow to be one of the largest reptiles, weighing in at over 90 kilos. He was certainly bumpy!
And that’s the end of wildlife week, not the best of weeks for me, but hey ho, win some lose some. Next week is colour week and this time the colour is Black. I’m away next week though visiting ‘doon sooth’ with my son Ben and grandson Lewis, so they will be my priority, there’ll certainly be pictures taken every day but whether or not I can stick to the prompts is another matter! Stay tooned! 😁
Who doesn’t like the noble steeds, the pretty ponies, the Drey’s? I used to ride when I was a little girl, and love to see horses when I’m out and about. Of course they love to be photographed too!
“From horses we may learn not only about the horse itself but also about animals in general, indeed about ourselves and about life as a whole.” ― George Gaylord Simpson
“The horse. Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity. A willing servant, yet never a slave.”
“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.”
“A horse is worth more than riches“.
— Spanish Proverb
“When you are on a great horse, you have the best seat you will ever have”
“Through the days of love and celebration and joy, and through the dark days of mourning – the faithful horse has been with us always.”
“I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a horse.”
“The horse, with beauty unsurpassed, strength immeasurable and grace unlike any other, still remains humble enough to carry a man upon his back.”
“I believe that the value of the horse and the opportunity of the horse in the future is likely to be as great as ever. Aeroplanes and tanks are only accessories to the men and the horse, and I feel sure that as time goes on you will find just as much use for the horse—the well bred horse—as you have ever done in the past.“
—Sir Douglas Haig field marshal in the British Army and a senior officer during World War I.
“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom.”
Sharon Ralls Lemon
“There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something, even when you ain’t a thing.”
“Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls, they give us hope.”
After we’d visited NELSAM we still had a couple of hours of daylight so decided to visit WWT Washington Wetland Centre as it was only up the road from the museum and is always good for birds and otters.
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust started out in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, and was set up by Sir Peter Scott, (son of Scott of the Antarctic). Peter became an Olympic sailing medallist and a well-known painter and broadcaster. He created the IUCN red list which measures whether species are threatened or endangered. He was the founding chair of WWF – and even drew their famous panda logo.
The Trust is all about conservation of endangered species, and their mission is to save critically endangered species from extinction, work with communities around the world who depend on wetlands and inspire people to take care of nature.
There are 9 WWT’s across the UK and we are lucky enough to have one near Sunderland. I’ve done a few posts on this blog from the WWT but there’s always something new to see.
There is a pair of Black Swans at Washington, they have white wing tips and red bills with a white stripe on them.
We were very excited to see a kingfisher, as neither off us had seen one in the flesh before
Further up in that part of the lake a heron was also fishing
We went to see the asian short clawed otters at feeding time
The breeding programme at Washington is very successful and when the litters of the main pair grow up they are sent to other wetlands to diversify the gene pool.
Then we went to see the flamingos, my faves, but walked past the geese first,
The weather was deteriorating at this point so that was the end of our day out, but stay tooned to see where we end up next time!
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