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An unexpected close encounter

Having driven the 170 miles from Exeter to Reading this morning I stopped off at a nearby garden centre to grab some lunch in the cafe. As I walked through the outside part of the centre I heard some birds chattering and followed the sound to investigate. To my surprise I found a separate area housing a small birds of prey sanctuary where they offer falconry courses. They had a number of raptors on display, including several falcons and owls. The Red Kite and Buzzard were sitting in an open enclosure with no wire in front of them so I grabbed my camera from the car and took some photos. I know the white background isn??t very natural looking but I quite like the clean, studio-like effect and it reminds me of Andrew Zuckerman??s [andrewzuckerman.com] studio wildlife photos.

After lunch I headed off to my rehearsal and couldn??t quite believe my eyes when I got out of the car. Circling overhead were three wild Red Kites ?? just like the one I??d been photographing minutes before! I got chatting to the lady who opens up the church hall and she told me that they regularly see the Kites, sometimes as many as thirty of them. Apparently they were released nearby just over a decade ago, when they were an endangered species in the UK. Since then they??ve flourished and these particular birds live in the nearby woodland. Of course as soon as I got my camera out they flew off into the distance but I can see I??ll be taking my 100-400mm lens with me to Reading every month just in case I see them again!

This is Poplar, a red kite at the Feathers and Fur [feathersandfur.co.uk]falconry centre.

Otis, the centre's Common Buzzard was being very vocal this morning!

A quick flap of the wings….

….then it's time to pose for the camera!

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    There are 17 comments, add yours!

    • # Alison

      Wow - stunning. My friend Cathy is an expert on Red Kites and always seems to be on the television and radio talking about them, she's quoted in [url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-15214415]this [/url] article too.

      2012.01.21 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Maz

      Wow....really amazing shots. Just wonderful! It must've been amazing to be so close!!

      2012.01.16 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Brenda Nelson

      These are the best "bird shots" I've seen on PB - so crystal clear and perfectly detailed! I have a love affair with birds of prey, especially hawks - they are so magnificent predators! (Did you see Larry's red-tailed hawk in his recent post - it lives across the street, but I never get a decent photo!)

      2012.01.15 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Sara G

      WOW! These are superb shots..love the last one..I hope you capture the others :-)

      2012.01.15 Edited Reply Cancel