Back at Wisley this morning as there was a bird of prey demonstration and I thought it would be a good photo op. It wasn't. The presentation was interesting, for sure, but the birds kept low and there were just too many people to do them justice.
They had a beautiful Eagle Owl. Apparently there are about 16 breeding pairs in the UK but, because there is controversy about how they came here, there is still debate among the British Ornithologists' Union about whether the owl can get the official stamp of approval as a native species and all the consequent protection that comes with it. The debate concerns whether the birds were released or escaped in to the wild or whether they flew here from other parts of Europe. Personally I find this a bit farcical, or I would if it wasn't so serious for the birds themselves.
I really wouldn't lump them in with grey squirrels or North American Signal Crayfish as a pest. But, for sure, they're a top predator and I wouldn't be letting out my miniature poodle at night if one of these was lurking in the neighbourhood. I wonder if they could take a badger, thereby providing a natural curb on the spread of bovine TB? Since owls and badgers are nocturnal we wouldn't have to witness the carnage that is the reality of cute fluffy things that eat other cute fluffy things - i.e. most of the natural world, and which so many urbanities find upsetting.
There was also a barn owl, rescued from a kitchen cupboard where it had been kept by parents who indulged their offspring's demand for an owl just like the one in the Harry Potter films. So, interesting stuff , just not the kind of pics I had in mind.
But the sun was shining so I got among the trees again. I've been enjoying the autumn leaves so much I've started a new leaves gallery.
Today I've run with a picture unpacked straight from the camera - leaves of the Nyssa sylvatica 'Wisley Bonfire', a real specimen in the RHS collection.