A Quiet Day at Chester Zoo

It has to be said that we love this place.  We are members and have visited so many times this year that I’ve lost count.  People often ask why we go so often as “surely things don’t change so often”. Well they do and seeing the zoo at different times of the year is one of the joys of being a member. It also meant that when we visit we don’t need to cram in everything in one day.  Take for example this visit; we went in to see the orangutans and saw beautiful creatures behaving wonderfully.  With the glass and the low light it’s not a great place for photography but that simply does not matter as it’s more important to us to just observe them.  This is a popular exhibit and during the busy summer months it gets very crowded so we avoid it, knowing that we will come back and see them on a day when the zoo is less busy.  This approach works well for us as family as it allows us time to stroll around and let the children have fun rather than briskly moving from one animal to the next.

No matter how many times we have seen the same animals there is alway something new to see; a new enclosure, an new behaviour, or new animal themselves like Franka the spectacled bear or Orla the new Rothschild giraffe.  And now that the winter months are closing in and the weather is colder and wetter we have the added bonus of eating in the zoo cafe areas.  I have to admit that it’s unsurprisingly expensive although that is eased with the 20% discount for members, but it is surprisingly good food.  Our children ate everything put in front of them and that is no mean feat at all. Of course, now that the zoo is quieter on the visitor front it is a much more pleasant experience eating in there as you can actually get a table to eat at.

One thing we always seem to do at the zoo is make 2 or 3 passes of the flamingo enclosure. Often they are still and at rest but many times you are treated to a flurry of activity.  This shot was taken as the flock was moving a towards us with a beautiful yet menacing noise.  It’s a very under appreciated attraction in my opinion as these are quite magnificent birds indeed.

If you follow us on Twitter you may have seen me mention that it’s great to find a photo your thought was not so good actually turned out really well.  Well here is the shot. We were stood watching this gibbon making the most amazing call out across the zoo from its high perch and it wasn’t until we started to head off that I though to take a shot, at pace I fire off a quick shot without thinking about it too much.  I am really pleased with how it turned out with the low winter sun casting a beautiful glow across this animal and the gorgeous tone of the unseasonal blue sky behind.

So I’ll wrap up this post with a couple more of my favourite shots from the day.  First, as ever, it the stunning lioness Asha. She is amazing but at the same time saddening as at the start of the yea she had her beautiful son running around with her before he was tragically taken from us all. The last shot is one of the Californian Sea Lions and after so many visits trying to capture a shot of them as they made their brief yet also dazzling appearances above the water line I found this big chap just relaxing in the shallows with his head glistening in the sun light.

I think we will be having one more visit to the zoo between Christmas and the New Year and after that we’ll be posting a “best of 2009” gallery from our many trips to this great place.

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