Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tropical Birdland

In a way this post is a bit of a cheat in that it has nothing whatsoever to do with wild birds. It's still about birds though! Last week I travelled with a friend to Tropical Birdland in Desford, Leicestershire so that we could work on a bit of camera technique by taking photographs of birds that a) we knew would be there, b) wouldn't bugger off as soon as we began to take photos and c) we could get relatively close to!
Tropical Birdland's website tells us that it is: 'Nestled on the northern outskirts of Desford village in Leicestershire, Tropical Birdland is a 6.5-acre sanctuary for Parrots and exotic birds. Housing over 250 feathery residents, every square inch has been devoted to giving a home to some of the most alluring and captivating species from around the world.'
There is plenty of information on the website at: http://tropicalbirdland.com
We visited on what we thought would be a fairly quiet Thursday but we forgot that the school holidays in Leicestershire were taken at different times to ours. So there were loads and loads of kids having a day out with their mums and dads and grandparents. They had all come to see the feathery residents.  This is such a popular spot for a day out that the cafĂ© was practically full of chip-munching bundles of energy and the various Parrots, Macaws, Lorikeets and Caiques that were out in the parrot path were having to really compete to be heard! If you ever go during school holidays I recommend you take some earplugs.
There are plenty of birds, both free-flying, and caged that can be photographed although some species do their level best to avoid being seen. A pair of owls near the entrance resolutely refuse to step out of a breeding box at the back of their aviary. Some birds are in aviaries that seem to get little natural light which makes photography difficult and other birds are so curious that they insist and persist on hanging on the cage-work inches from your camera-lens.  Nevertheless I took pictures of over 35 species without having to travel to South America, Africa or Australia and there were a fair few that I didn't manage to photograph.
African Grey Parrot.
I was told that the African Grey is one of the most commonly kept parrots in captivity. They have been known to amass a vocabulary of 1000 words or more and they can live up to 80 years so the conversation could get repetitive...if you live long enough.

Alexandrine Parakeet.
The Alexandrine Parakeet is larger than but very similar to the Ring-necked Parakeet which is taking over southern Britain. A roost in Esher, Surrey has been counted at over 7000 birds!

Black-capped Lory
The scientific name of the Black-capped Lory is Lorius lori lori! Or red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry etc.

Black-headed Caique...pronounced cake.
Blacksmith Plover
The Blacksmith Plover is not a member of the Parrot family...it's a plover and they can be found wandering about the floor of the walk-through aviary. They do not eat big nuts either but that does not seem to stop all the kiddi-winks trying to feed them such.

Blue and Gold Macaw
Blue and Gold or Blue and Yellow Macaws can live up to 60 years, grow to 80cms in length, cost you around £500 and take up all of your time. They have beaks that look like they can sever a finger and all-seeing eyes...don't mess.

Green-winged Macaw. Ouch..ouch..let go!
The Green-winged Macaw can live up to 60 years, grow even bigger than a Blue and Gold Macaw probably cost more and take up all of your time. They have beaks that look like they can sever your finger but if you have a pair they spend all of their time trying to rip each other's beaks off.
Hyacinth Macaw - worth two photographs.

Hyacinth Macaw - The biggest and in my opinion the best looking Macaw.

Military Macaw
Military Macaws supposedly got their name from being imported into Europe by military personnel.

Scarlet Macaw
The Scarlet Macaw is really popular as a pet, even though it is big with a beak that looks like it can sever a finger and all-seeing eyes. It is also the national bird of Honduras.

A hybrid Macaw - often called Harlequin Macaw
Macaws like other Macaws and hybrids are common in captivity usually by crossing a Blue and Gold Macaw with a Green-winged Macaw. Harlequin is a better, more catchy name than Blue and Gold Green-winged Macaw.

Blue-headed Pionus
Budgerigar...probably called Joey. Very popular in the 60s and 70s.
Ducorp's Cockatoo

Ducorp's Cockatoos are supposed to be intelligent and playful so presumably they make good chess-playing pets .I don't know who Ducorp was or why he has his own Cockatoo.

Emerald Starling. Free-flying in the walk-through aviary.
Galah - Like all Australians it is very shy and retiring!
Goffin's Cockatoo.
Goffin must have been a mate of Ducorp and there would have been some kind of one-upmanship rivalry whereby they both tried to outdo each other in a I've got a white parroty-bird named after me kind of way. This one lacks the Sinatra type blue-eyes.

Goldie's Lorikeet - cage bars in the background ruin aviary photographs.

A cute shot of a non-parrot Kookaburra looking at me looking at him (or her). Another quiet and curious Australian. You've got to laugh.

Blue-fronted and Mealy Amazonian Parrots
This shot is crying-out for a suitable caption!

Queen of Bavaria Conure. Unbelievably Yellowy-Gold with some green.
Red-breasted Goose. Another non parrot in the walk-through aviary.
Red-capped Cardinal - also in the walk-through aviary.
Red-winged Laughing Thrush. Yet another species that can pooh on your head in the walk-through aviary.
Scarlet Ibis. No chance of this poohing on your head. You should spot it beforehand.
Snowy-crowned Robin Chat.
There are quite a few species to photograph in the walk-through aviary and there is the benefit of no cage, net or bars between you and the birds so they look a bit more as if they are in the wild. You can get quite close so a 200 mm lens is ample for a frame filling shot but it can be dark in there and if it is very busy some of the birds can be a bit wary and prefer to stay out of sight in the few trees and shrubs that are available. Patience is the best tool and there are a couple of well positioned benches. I find that it's better to take shots when the birds are not feeding as then they look a bit more natural as in the shot of the Snowy-crowned Robin Chat above. To me it looks as if it could be a photograph of a wild bird in its natural habitat...but for that I'd have to travel to central or west Africa, not Leicestershire.

Sun Conure. Clearly fed-up of oranges.
Taveta Golden Weaver I think. Hanging about in the Walk-through aviary
White-bellied Caique
Another cake and another caption opportunity with which to finish.
Tropical Birdland is a great place to spend a day either for photography or just to see the variety of species. I found the staff to be really well informed and knowledgeable as well as friendly and helpful. Check the weather for light and check the school holiday calendar before you set off.

1 comment:

  1. Great shots. 1000 word vocabulary exceeds a lot of the locals here