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ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting

Ian Andrews reports on several events that involved some ePHOTOzine members travelling all over the country to attend.

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The South East Group of ePHOTOziners, who were again joined by some long distance travellers, had a hectic Bank Holiday weekend. Only one managed to get enough time off to manage Marwell Zoo on the Friday but a much bigger compliment turned out for Eagle Heights Bird of Prey Centre on the final day of April.
The prescribed time of 10.30am saw a very meagre turn-out of five, three of whom had travelled distances in three figures, but as the first flying display got under way at noon the numbers had swollen to a healthier ten.

The centre was a little short of well-trained birds as most of the pick of their crop had travelled north to a falconer’s convention. This, however, proved to be a bonus for the group as those birds that were flown didn’t always behave as expected!

The skies were not exactly bright blue, but there was enough light for decent shutter speeds and the fastest of the birds, a lanner Falcon, did a couple of swoops from not very high up and then promptly went on strike and landed on a perch, refusing to fly any more!

The second display, showing some owls, didn’t fare much better, with most of the birds doing as little flying as they could get away with in order to receive their rewards! The Eagle owl however, did perform well and a few shots were captured but when the Falconer asked if the Daleks (ePHOTOziners with long lenses) had got that particular manoeuvre and was told “No, just the back of your head” the act was performed again only for two shots to be fired before the ‘card full’ icon came up!

So to the final flying display of the day, where the first bird promptly disappeared over the buildings. Some number of minutes later, the falconer brought out his radio-tracking device to locate the bird and was greeted with jeers of “Who’s the Dalek now??” The bird eventually returned after his flight and the show continued.

The final display was three Black kites who did their thing for a short while and then decided to have some fun. Using the nearest tree as a base they flew out over the valley for various lengths of time, each trying to outdo the other two. They were still at it when we al left the centre at 5pm!

ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
Alaska, the Bald Eagle flies over the crowd at Eagle Heights

During the day, the ‘wild’ kestrel that performed so well at last years meeting put in a couple of well timed appearances, including one during the Bald Eagle Alaska’s display. Now that is one magnificent bird and would make the day worthwhile if she was the only bird being flown, although we also got to see Griffon Vulture, White backed Vulture, Carcaras, Barn Owl, Harris hawk (eventually), Eagle Owl, a second Bald Eagle, Tawny Eagle, two Storks, the ‘Wild’ Kestrel and the three Black Kites. A good day! ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
Wild’ Kestrel flies in for lunch

Sunday morning at 9am saw nine of the ten expected ePHOTOziners assemble on Herne Bay seafront, with apologies being received from the tenth. There had been a couple of rain showers around the 8.30am and nobody was sure what we were in for, but after assembling in the wrong place and a smart ¼ mile march to the other side of the Pier, we arrived at the place of departure, a stony beach and a small rubber dinghy!

It took four trips to get us aboard the ‘Wildlife’, but two of those were for kit alone!! Everyone found a comfortable spot on this 40 foot open sailing boat and we were away. The sea was a flat as a Millpond, so sailing was out and the motor got us out to the sandbanks in 1¼ hrs. After a little searching, the skipper found the bank that the seals were occupying today and shutters started clacking. ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
The Ferryman!

The skipper worked his way slowly closer and as he did so, the seals steadily reduced in number from the original 40 odd down to half a dozen or so. Good observers were treated to the odd head popping up out of the sea. We turned away from this bank and headed half a mile to another larger bank where anchor was dropped and we got into the dinghy for the short trip ashore.

A quarter of a mile down this bank were a large number of seals, who promptly headed for the water as the second boatload of human cargo landed. As we walked around photographing hermit crabs, starfish and each other, the seals could be seen swimming around the big boat! Typical!!

Three quarters of an hour later, we were back on board and heading back to the first sandbank where, just as the skipper had predicted, the seals had returned and allowed us much closer, remembering us from the first approach. A few more gigabytes of pictures were taken before the trip, this time inshore, back to Herne Bay.

ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
Grey Seals on the Sandbanks

ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
The Big boat!
ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
The Intrepid Mariners. Clockwise:- Ian, Cheryl, Mike, Suzie, Shirley, Ade Clive, Nick(Hobbs) and Nick (NickD)

After passing Reculver Towers, we came within range of the Hooray Henry’s and their jet-ski’s, out for the bank holiday Sunday. As soon as they realised that there were cameras aboard they started performing and ‘entertained’ us for the final part of the journey.

Getting ashore was a safer, if slightly slower process, as we had to wait for the tide to give enough water to get close enough to the slipway to disembark, and we made our way to the nearest seafront café for a well earned cuppa!

ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting

The Monday saw a division of the ranks, mainly according to location of home/hotel and to minimise driving time. Smaller groups attended both the British Wildlife Centre and Wildwood. Both of these venues have been well documented in these pages before, so suffice to say that those at the BWC were treated to this years fox cubs while Wildwood had activity from both stoats and weasels!

Those that attended one or more of the venues over the weekend were: Cheryl Surry, Ade Osman, Suzie Osman, Mike Taylor, Terry Longley, Fran French, Shirley Andrews, Nick Armitt, Clive Burrow, Nick Duncan, Sharon Boyd, Siobhan Boyd-Longley, Emily French, Graeme Garwood, MattW and his wife, Jeff Griffin and myself, Ian Andrews. Apologies if I have missed anyone! ;-))

ePHOTOzine photographic outing club trip members meeting
BWC Fox Cubs (Terry Longley, Canon 10D, 100-400 L IS)

The prize for the most travelled of the weekend goes to Cheryl Surry who made it to from Derbyshire to Marwell on the Friday, Eagle Heights Saturday, Herne Bay Sunday and the BWC on Monday and was back in Derbyshire by 8pm Monday evening! There is also a prize for the closest guess as to how many frames were shot by the group over the weekend. The prize? A framed copy of this print!

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