A couple of weeks ago I received an email reminding me my membership at Colchester Zoo was about to expire. It made me realise I haven't visited since July so I put that right today - and renewed my card while I was there too.
Colchester Zoo is so big that it's difficult to see everything in one day, especially when one of the animals is doing something particularly photogenic and I get caught up in the moment! With this in mind, I tend to just follow my nose, with no particular plan, and simply see which animals are most active.
Today the chimpanzees stole the show for me. Their enclosure is near the entrance so I always tend to pop in there first to see if they're out and about. This morning they were lounging around in their sleeping quarters, munching on some tasty pieces of cucumber and generally chilling out. Reflections from the other visitors created some frustrating distractions in my pictures but I quickly solved that by converting them to monochrome to remove the colourful marks. Initially I just converted a couple of pictures but ultimately I felt my pictures made a more coherent collection if they were all black and white.
I usually try to exclude the obviously manmade building but today there were moments when it seemed appropriate to include elements of it. Tumba, the chocolate chimp, took a dislike to me back in July and insisted on throwing the towel he was playing with at me. Today he seemed to have forgotten this and I caught several portraits of him enjoying various activities.
When I returned later this afternoon the chimps had spread out around the whole enclosure (although sadly not into their lovely new outdoor area). Tumba was playing with some plastic balls in a pool of water and it was fascinating to watch him solving problems. As I watched him he figured out that by chewing on the balls he could squash them into small cups, which he could then use to drink from. Later I caught him having fun destroying an old egg box.
Elsewhere Billie-Joe, the great, great grandmother of Colchester's chimp family was relaxing in her usual manner. She first came to the zoo some 35 years ago after an uncertain start at a research facility. Her difficult early life has left her with a habit of rocking as she sits quietly on her own. Interestingly, she often moves around the enclosure but always takes a big clump of hay with her to create a comfy cushion on which to lean. Now she's in her forties she's looking rather elderly but the zoo keepers are taking lots of care to ensure she has a comfy old age.
During my stroll around the zoo I also visited the meerkats, otters and rainbow lorikeets, resulting in a mixed bag of photos. I liked this simple photo of a meerkat best from their enclosure - something about that beam of light made it for me.
After lunch I visited the Rainbow Lorikeets - a wonderfully colourful contrast to the chimps. I made the mistake of using too slow a shutter speed back in July so today I bumped up my ISO to avoid making the same mistake. I must have spent at least half an hour observing these garrulous little birds. They're very accustomed to people so it was easy to get close to them, although no doubt they were disappointed I didn't come bearing food. Fortunately, the keeper came in just before I left with a big bowl of their favourite delicacy, a sticky nectar which they lap up. Of course, I couldn't bring myself to convert their multicoloured plumage to monochrome so they provide a vivid splash of colour to end today's post.
23 November 2017