Just come back from a couple of days up in the Lake District where I spent my time visiting the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, in Dalton, a place I’m fond of from visiting several times when I was younger, and Trotters World of Animals, near Keswick, where I first visited in 2009. The reason for the visits was for the purpose of wanting to get some more animal photographs, but from a different place, hence the trip upto South Lakes and then seeing I was staying up there I took the opportunity to drive up to Trotters too. From the number of photos I’ve come back with (and having a sneaky peek at some of the raw versions) I’m looking forward to seeing some of the finished products.

Visiting zoological collections during term time for schools (most of the time) ensures relatively quiet visits, and this was the case for both of my visits. The first stop at South Lakes was down to the lions as it was nearly time for the lion feeding, and this time was the highlight of my day. At that point the male and two female African lions were sharing their outdoor enclosure with female Amur tiger Nina (only the outdoor enclosure, meaning when Nina was outside, the lions were kept in and vice versa). And so I spent some time watching the lions getting quite tetchy and at times aggressive with each other as the keeper was calling Nina into the house, a sure sign for the lions that it was dinner time. Watching and hearing the lions growling and snarling at each other, when they were literally only 2 metres away from you is an invigorating experience which really does illustrate their raw power. At times I even got a little nervous as I caught the eye of the male lion as he was pacing from side to side, an incredible experience.

Once Nina had been successfuly called in the food was set out at the top of the telegraph poles, a trademark feeding routine of South Lakes, and then the lions were let out and climbed up the pole to get the meat, which allowed me to get about 200 photos of them eating. The rest of the day I spent walking around the zoo getting as many photos of the different species I could get. Some of them were easier than others as some of the animals were out, some were not and some were not out in their outdoor enclosure but were in their indoor house that visitors could go into.

The 2 jaguars were out all the time, as were the hamadryas baboons, but their neighbours the giraffes and white rhino weren’t out in the main paddock, but I saw them in their indoor enclosures. As the afternoon progressed the siamang gibbons and the lar gibbons made an appearance outside whilst one place where you could always see the animals were in the walkthrough area where the ring-tailed and black and white ruffed lemurs were, along with the emus, donkeys, and wallabies.

I’d enjoyed spending a few hours walking through the zoo, seeing the animals from ground-level and then high up on the walkways although the zoo hadn’t changed much in the past 2 years. One thing I was disappointed with was I didn’t get to see the snow leopard, and that’s not because it didn’t choose to come out, more that it couldn’t come out because it seemed to be sharing the outdoor enclosure with the 2 jaguars. It’s great the zoo has them but it seems they need a few more outdoor enclosures to keep up with the number of animals they have. Although, this may be happening in the future as it looked like the expansion plans for the zoo are now in full-swing, something that I’m really looking forward to in the future, and will definately back to see how the work is progressing.

The second day of my trip I went up to Trotters, just outside of Keswick. Although it was only 45 miles away from where I was staying it took me an hour and a half to get there, through very winding roads, driving through Bowness, Ambleside, Rydal, and Grasmere, but the scenery was spectacular, from the banks of Lake Windermere up to Ambleside and then the mountains of the high peaks of the national park.

Trotters is a relatively small zoological collection with meerkats, yellow mongoose, lar gibbons, lemurs, servals, emus, zebra, and quite a large collection of birds of prey, like the bald eagle, golden eagle, peregrine falcon and the common buzzard. This was the highlight of the day for me, as when the birds of prey are not taking part in the birds of prey show they are on show on their perches which allowed me to get some really clear shots (photographs that is) of them close up.

Even though it’s relatively small, Trotters does have a couple of unique species that I’ve never seen in other zoos, such as the Eurasian lynx and the Asian palm civet. Overall it was another enjoyable day, but even though I took less photos than at South Lakes I’m still looking forward to the outcome of a number of them, particularly the bald eagle.

Once I’d travelled back to Grange I headed into Cartmel to take some photos of the priory and then onto the promenade which overlooks Morecambe Bay to get some photos of there too.  It was a great couple of days, which has hopefully, allowed me to expand my ever expanding photography portfolio. So, with that I’d better get on and sort through them all and see what I end up with…!

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