These two pictures are very old but they appealed to me given the time of year. They were taken in Yorkshire over 20 years ago as we were hiking in the area. It was spring and the lambing season was underway. We saw a couple of lambs gamboling through a graveyard while another was resting in the grass. Lambs in spring are such an iconic scene. With spring upon us, I felt like they should be dug out from my negative scan archive.
There is a school of thought that baby animals are a lot cuter than the fully-grown versions. I guess cuteness is in the eye of the beholder so there may be some that find reindeer to be cute. They are fine as far as I am concerned but probably not the cutest animal there is. This herd had a number of babies (anyone know the name for a baby reindeer?) and some of them were more adventurous sniffing their way around the enclosure although the mother was never too far away. They did look pretty sweet as the walked around the place, occasionally looking a little unsteady but generally showing that skill of instantly being mobile that humans clearly lack.
The Big Island has a large population of wild goats. All of the larger animals on the island were introduced by the visiting peoples at some point and the goats obviously got well established. You can come across them at all sorts of places as you travel the island. I saw them a number of times but the one time I got to get shots of them was while waiting for my helicopter trip across the island. They hang around the landing pads that Sunshine Helicopters use a lot and, according to our pilot, they are not always too enthusiastic about vacating the pads when the helicopters arrive!
While we were waiting, they were certainly not shy. There were both adult goats and some kids in the group that showed up. The kids were clearly more timid and they would not go anywhere until the adults had been there a while to show that it was safe to do so. They would stay back in the bushes for a while before coming out into the open. As soon as there was any disturbance, they would jump back to somewhere that felt safer.
It was quite interesting to see how the group behaved when they first showed up. The whole group hung back in the bushes for a while. Gradually, as they realized that the people that were hanging around were not a threat, they became more comfortable in getting out in the open. Anything that disturbed the environment would get them back out of the way but they would soon become comfortable again and come back out. Indeed, we were soon so used to them that we were a bit bored with their intrusion too and we both went about our way with little concern for the other.
Plenty of wildlife shots make their way on to this blog. However, the ones that get the most responses are those that involve baby animals. The cuteness factor usually does the trick. Today we shall combine a creature that is not usually known for being cute (although I do find them fascinating) with the baby element to see what results. Is a baby hippo cute?
If the responses of the visitors to San Diego Zoo are anything to go by, definitely. This baby was really very young. It was in the enclosure with its mum and the mother was teaching it to swim. They were hanging out in the water under some foliage to make the most of the shade. Periodically, they would take a swim with her pushing the baby ahead of her under water. If it popped up to the surface, she would push it back under to get it used to being under for long periods of time.
A couple of laps of the pool and then back under the foliage to take a break before repeating the process. Getting shots was not easy. First, mum was pretty protective and blocked the view of the baby a lot. It would pop up occasionally. Of course, shooting through thick glass doesn’t help. Once they were swimming there were better chances. However, the tank glass is thick and the distortion at angles is significant. Also, there were a ton of people also trying to get a view.
Despite all of this, we did get a chance to see the baby swimming around. It really was a very cute looking thing. The pictures will not be worthy of anything beyond the blog but they are a nice snapshot of the early days of a creature that will soon be a lot bigger. By the time this posts, I imagine it will have grown substantially.
Last in the baby section, at least for now, is the sloth bear. One of the bears at Brookfield had a couple of cubs earlier in the year. They are now out in the enclosure for the public to see. Baby bears are really quite cute. Lots of fur and everything else a bit undersized so they look very ungainly. Add to that the typical youthful energy of young animals as they explore all of the new things on offer and you get a popular spot for visitors. I can’t judge – we were there for the same reason!
The baby animal saga continues. The Addax group at the zoo have also had new additions. A couple of babies in this case. Probably not quite as cute as the giraffe but still pretty interesting. I suspect the Addax enclosure does not normally have as many visitors as they are getting right now. Babies of all species seem to have that effect on people!
This is going to be the first in a short series of cute baby animal posts. No kittens or puppies here but it won’t be the first time I have been down this route as the baby elephant post here will testify. However, one of our local zoos at Brookfield has had a bunch of new animals born in recent months. We popped along to see one of them and ended up seeing the others that we had forgotten about.
The new addition in question is a baby giraffe. Giraffes are a quite fascinating creature for many people and their enclosure always has a good crowd. At the moment, the numbers are significantly higher as the addition of a new member to the family is getting a lot of attention. If you want to see how a baby giraffe is born, go to Brookfield Zoo’s YouTube page and there is a video of the birth there. It is not a subtle event as the mother is walking around and literally drops the baby out as she goes. Apparently, the thump as it hits the ground startles it into action and it is off!
The youngster has grown a bit by now but is still conspicuously small compared to the rest of the family. Balance is good but still a little ungainly and investigating things away from the adults still seems to have some fascination. If you are in the area, you should drop by before they get too big.
During a short break on a trip to Seattle, I was visiting a spot that has an aviation theme which should come as no surprise to anyone. While I was down at the south end of Lake Union, I was surrounded by geese. Since geese are unbelievably abundant these days, that is not so unusual. What I hadn’t counted on was that spring gets to Seattle a lot earlier than it does Chicago. As a result, one pair of geese already had a bunch of goslings in tow.
They looked pretty young and got a lot of attention from passers by. I am not immune to cute baby animals so grabbed a few shots of the family as they wandered around. It might not be quite kittens playing with balls of yarn but I guess I am getting close!
Regular readers know that I am always keen to catch some photography opportunities with wildlife. Baby wildlife is even cuter so that is something that will get me to visit a place. One good wildlife spot but maybe one that is not so obvious unless you know the area is Fermilab. This is a research facility located west of Chicago. It does a lot of research in particle physics and it is home to the tevatron, a particle accelerator that was the most powerful in the world until the Large Hadron Collider was built at CERN. The tevatron has now been shut down.
All of this leads to the fact the facility has a lot of land, most of which is not used for research. This makes it quite a haven for wildlife and visiting to take a look around is very easy – as long as you stay in the public access areas of course. Plenty of creatures make their home in the facility. One extra thing is a farm that raises bison. I have no idea why this is part of what goes on there but it does. Breeding season has come and the herd had a few new additions. We popped along to see them.
Baby bison are very cute whether they are roaming Yellowstone or in a field in Illinois. We found the herd quite close to the road and so we could get a good view of the youngsters roaming around. Some were staying close to mum but others were exploring a bit more on their own. They will be big very quickly so it was nice to catch them at this age.
We took a trip to Brookfield Zoo to see the young snow leopards. However, we also were aware that there had been some other new arrivals at the zoo since we had last visited. One of these was a baby White Cheeked Gibbon. After visiting the leopards, we headed for the large primate building to see how the new arrival was doing.
Shooting in the primate house is tricky since the light is not always great. I also hadn’t planned for this so didn’t have a flash with me. After the cold outside, the warm and humid building also made for a lot of steaming up of the gear so we spent a lot of time just looking around while everything cleared up. The baby was certainly pretty cute. Mum was taking good care of him while some of the other gibbons seemed to be a bit annoyed about the lack of attention they were getting. This could involve trying to poke the baby. However, Mum was up to the task of fending off any unwanted attention!