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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Butterfly Bonanza (Grand Turk& Caicos islands).

                                                  A Gulf Fritillary!
                                                A Cloudless Sulphur!
                                    This species is a Queen..
                                        The beautiful Monarch butterfly.
                                       A Long distance migrant..
                                  Monarchs are resident here...
                                            Monarch feeding.
                                                   Common Buckeye
The next port of call we visited on our cruise,I`ve renamed `Butterfly Island`.I have never seen as many butterflies together in one place as here,it was amazing!Within the space of 400yds from the port I counted 12 different species.Some were on the wing, whilst others were feeding on the assortment of flowers that carpeted the area.One species in particular stood out from the rest,it was larger and more numerous than the others and seemed to be flitting about everywhere I walked.This was the Monarch,a species that occasionally is found on the British Isles.These long distance migrants are native to North America but are known to winter in their tens of thousands to South America.These on the islands here were probably native and stay all year round.It was annoying not knowing the names of these beautiful fritillaries but I kept the camera busy for future reference.It was strange that birds were conspicuous by their absence,but it was nice to use a small macro lens and get up close with the butterflies and marvel at their beauty.I hope my photos do them justice, because it was a fantastic experience to be surrounded by these wonderful creatures......

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Onto St Kitts

                                      Common Ground Dove
                                               Gray Kingbird
                                            Greater Yellowlegs
                                 Blue Winged Teal were numerous on the saltpans.
                          Black Winged Stilt and a few White Cheeked Pintail.
                                   A solitary Greater Yellowlegs

St Kitts was another of the islands where we docked.A  short walk around the town of Basseterre was taken, before the girls decided it was time to head for one of the local beaches.A local taxi driver quoted 27 dollar return to Cockleshell beach and we were duly on our way.A journey of about 25 mins was endured passing numerous saltpans en route.I could only hope that one was within walking distance from the beach, as this would give me some opportunities to view and of course photograph some of the local inhabitants.It didn`t take long to settle in, as 3 sunbeds an umberalla and 5 bottles of the local Carib beer in an ice filled bucket were purchased,cost a princely 25 american dollars.Ah,this is the life, as I took the top off another bottle of Carib.With thirst quenched and the girls sizzling nicely,I was off to explore the hinterlands.I could hear various whistles and noises in the distance, which could mean only one thing,,,,birds.A small brackish lagoon was spied through the bushes.Numerous duck and Black winged Stilt were feeding in the margins.The duck I couldn`t ID immediately but the Stilt were unmistakable.A few long legged waders were probing the soft mud and a small Sandpiper type scurried along.Grabbing what images I could,I would be able to identify these when I got home.I discovered later that the majority of the birds were North American en route to their wintering grounds,I couldn`t understand why they had to leave the islands, as although it was winter here, the temps were 26 degree celcius and  plenty of food about what more could they want!!!I`ll again leave you with a few of the images I obtained whilst out and about with the camera.Pity that time was very limited and having worked up a thirst I headed back to the sunbeds and another bucket of iced beer!!!!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Caribbean adventure (Tortola)

                                               Royal Tern

                                            Successful catch.
                                             Magnificent Frigate bird.
                                   Pirates of the skies.
                                     Brown Pelican surrounded by the shoals.
                                      Trying for lunch.
With the winter weather heavily upon us, we decided to head for some guaranteed sunshine to the West Indies.Again, like this time last year, we embarked on a 2 week cruise of the Caribbeaan Isles.Cruising lets you see so much in a short space of time.First port of call was Tortola,which means Turtle Dove, not really much to do there only to head for the beach for the day.A real bonus for me was the amount of birds on show,although not a lot of different species there,  it was a mecca for Brown Pelican,Frigate bird and a few Royal Terns.These birds were here for one reason only and that was to feed.The shallow warm waters were alive with huge shoals of fish.The downside was I had left my 400mm lens on board ship and had only a 70-300mm zoom lens with me.Luckily the birds came quite close for me to catch some of the action.Whilst my wife and daughter lazed on the sunbeds,I was busy following the birds.The Pelicans were usually successful on their forays and would plunge from the sky head first into the mass of fish,coming to the surface with the bill pouch full to the rim,the water would sieve out of their bill, leaving them to swallow their catch.The Terns on the other hand were more subtle on their approach and would skim the surface picking off the odd individual fish.The frigate birds tactic was to wait while a tern had caught fish then ambush it and relieve it of its catch.It was an enjoyable afternoon in the sun and I`ve posted a few shots of the action.