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The hunt for a black Squirrel - Second ePHOTOzine members meet at Wildwood, Kent
| Back in March of this year (yes, that's all
it was!) six hardy members of ePHOTOzine turned up at Wildwood, near Herne
Bay in Kent for what turned out to be the first meeting of the Motley Crew
of South East ePziners! Since then there have been meetings on the Kentish
Stour River, Mole Hall in Essex, and at Eagle Heights Bird of Prey Centre
in Eynsford. On each occasion, the Motley crew grew in size! With each increase
came more requests to go back to the scene of the original crime.
So it was that on Sunday 27th June 2004, at the appointed hour of 10am, the car park at Wildwood saw a new invasion! This time though, instead of complete strangers meeting, it was more a case of greeting old friends and introducing new ones. And this time the car park was a lot fuller by the time we made our way through the entrance a few minutes later. At this point, it should be mentioned that one member, a certain Mattwaggie, had driven for 5 ½ hours to be there and had a similar journey to get home afterwards! Kudos Matt.
The people on parade were; Boyd-longley, Greyheron53, Aunt Sally, Fizz, Onewildworld, Characterboats, Shirley, Kit-monster, Daffydill56, Groovyfrem, Ronr, Villianbob, Ojohnson, lobsterboy, Marsa, Mattw, and AliP. Apologies were received from Mephistopeles who failed to get out of bed!
Once everyone had got through the starting stalls and visited the necessary facilities the group headed the fifty yards required to reach base camp! The staff in the restaurant, recognising one or three of us, nearly did a runner when the best part of 20 Photogs walked in. (What do you call a herd of Photographers?)
Everybody had a different idea of what they wanted to photograph now that they were on site, Wolves , Badgers , Foxes , Otters , Black squirrels , Deer..,! Wait a minute, who said Black Squirrels? No, there are no Black squirrel cages anywhere on the site, but there are some running wild in the area! And so started the Black Squirrel Hunt! Everybody moved of, breaking into smaller groups which then bumped into each other to make larger groups, which then split up in different smaller groups and so the day went on. Photographers, deep in conversation with photographers, about photography and associated subjects. So engrossed in the conversation were they that one member (I won't name you Mike) completely forgot to look where he was going and disappeared sideways into the bracken, much to the consternation of his companions who thought he had vanished in mid sentence! He must have liked it there, because he was later seen to be taking photographs IN the bracken having this time climbed over a fence!
More by luck than judgement, lunch was taken in shifts as members completed a first circuit at differing times, the old lags being the first to return, knowing the best activities were in the afternoon.
Different groups found different highlights during the course of the day. Some were treated to a sight of the new Wolf cubs, others were in the right area when the badgers came out for their feed time around four-ish. Throughout the time we were there, various groups were heard to say "we're going to find the Black squirrels" including one pair who had earlier in the week used extreme telephoto attachments on their various cameras to capture a Green Woodpecker. As it was now getting late in the day and no one had seen the elusive Black squirrel, they moved off in the direction of the Red Deer enclosure where they had had reports of this elusive animal.
Your correspondent, having had enough walking for one day, retired to HQ to imbibe coffee and chat to those members who had to get off, when one of the senior staff at Wildwood arrived with a cardboard box. Asking if we would like to take some pictures, she opened the box to reveal . (NO not black squirrels) two baby hedgehogs. A black cloth was produced, along with a reflector (despite fears of the weather, strong sunshine had been the order for most of the day) and half a dozen cameras were soon pointed at these baby stars. They were allowed 5 minutes out of the warmth of the box, before having to be returned. They were about 7-8 days old and had been rescued from beneath a shed. As they were being put away, somebody said 'LOOK!' and there, 15 metres from the porch of the café was the elusive Black Squirrel! Seconds later it was gone, off up a tree.
To finish off the day, and a first for the Motley Crew, those who did not have to hurry back, proceeded ½ a mile down the road to a fine hostelry know as The Punch Tavern where all 10 took their places around the biggest table in the place. A comment was made about the number of photographers around the table and not a camera in sight when the scene was broken by one person placing a compact pocket model on the table! (well, he is known as a bit of a kit monster!)
Another two hours passed with the consumption of a good meal and more conversation and the sweets defeated even the biggest appetites in the group. Plans were made for the next meeting of this Motley bunch and at the time of writing it is planned for 11th July at WWT Arundel. All are welcome and we look forward to meeting you.
Report by Ian Andrews better known as Characterboats