So … Ted has a wonderful new camera that he bought last summer, ready for this year’s adventures. Thanks in part to a talented birding friend of ours (you know who you are!) he has become something akin to obsessed with getting pictures of birds in their natural habitat, and especially birds in flight.
I love the fact that he’s my resident photographer, since it means that I can immerse myself in the scenery and take mental “blog notes” without being distracted by having to take the photos to go with them. All I need to remember is to ask him to take pictures of the things I want to write about. Since I’m far more interested in architecture and food than he is, that means requesting pictures of those things; otherwise when we get back from a day’s outing I might only have shots of cormorants, butterflies, and flowers, when what I want to write about is the tile floor in the cathedral!
Ted is not a big fan of zoos, largely because taking photos there does not present the same challenges as being out in nature. He describes it as “catching fish in a barrel”.
I, on the other hand, love a well-run zoo. I appreciate their conservation, preservation, and animal rescue efforts; I also recognize that being able to see in person how magnificent an endangered species is might influence people to protect them, in a way that seeing pictures or documentary footage might not.
Ted is nothing if not cooperative, so off to the San Antonio Zoo we went.
It’s not a huge zoo. You can walk the whole thing in about 3 hours. It is, however, one of the prettiest zoos we’ve been in (San Diego remains my favourite – so far), with lush trees, and man-made rock tunnels and caves forming both walkways and exhibits. It’s also the noisiest zoo we have ever visited, due to the preponderance of Mexican (great-tailed) grackles loudly vocalizing from the trees, making up to 16 different sounds, some of which seem to mimic other birds. Quieter, but also present in disconcertingly large numbers at the zoo, are black vultures. I’m not sure what attracts these big carrion eaters, unless they’re waiting to snatch food away from the carnivores during feeding times. The bears and big cats seem to just ignore them.
My favourite exhibit was the hippos. The SA Zoo has a grandmother and her grandson, who use a large pond with a glass viewing wall. I’d never before seen a hippo pond stocked with native African fish species; we could watch the fish cleaning the hides and mouths of the hippos exactly as they would in the wild. Fascinating!
Ted got some great photos. Because his camera is such high resolution, once we got back to the condo he was able to zoom in on faces and feathers to create some really spectacular close-ups. Here are my favourites from the day: