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User / Tim Melling
Tim Melling / 5,705 items

N 8 B 1.1K C 0 E Nov 18, 2018 F Dec 11, 2018
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This is a young male Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), still in female-type "ringtail" plumage. I can tell he's a male because of the narrow wings and light build. During the eighteenth century male and female Hen Harriers were thought to be different species. The issue was sorted by Colonel George Montagu (of Montagu's Harrier fame) who reared a brood of "ring-tailed hawks". He kept them for about a year when one died and he was worried the others might die before the definitive moult would have proved him right. So he plucked some feathers off each bird, and the male bird grew back pale grey, not brown feathers, proving that male ring-tailed hawks turn into Hen Harriers when they grow up. I photographed this one in China but it is the same as the ones that breed in Britain.

Tags:   Circus cyaneus Hen Harrier ringtail immature male China Tim Melling

N 47 B 2.5K C 13 E Nov 13, 2018 F Dec 10, 2018
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This is a male Tibetan Macaque, sometimes known as Milne-Edwards' or Chinese Stump-tailed Macaque (Macaca thibetana). They are the largest species of Macaque and occur mainly in Eastern Tibet and Western China. He was watching over his harem of females when I took this and did not like me stopping to take his photo. Males can weigh up to 19.5kg but females are much smaller (9-13kg). An alpha male like this one usually only retains dominance over a harem for about a year before a challenger takes over. They are mainly vegetarian, eating bamboo, leaves, roots, grass, fruit, but they also eat insects. I took the photograph at about 2000m at Labahe, Sichuan, China.

Tags:   Macaca thibetana Milne-Edwards Tibetan Macaque Labahe Sichuan China Tim Melling

N 312 B 14.6K C 39 E Dec 9, 2018 F Dec 9, 2018
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It was an argument over which was Europe’s fastest game bird that led to the production of the Guinness Book of Records. On 10th November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver (Managing Director of Guinness Breweries) was with a shooting party in County Wexford, Ireland. Some Golden Plovers were shot at, and missed, which prompted a discussion as to whether they were Europe’s fastest game bird. Consulting reference books did not solve the issue, and it occurred to Sir Hugh that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in the 81,400 pubs in Britain and Ireland, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He discussed the matter with Ross and Norris McWhirter to see if their fact and figure agency could help. The result was the first Guinness Book of Records being published in time for Christmas 1955.

Bizarrely the question that was the reason for the creation of the Guinness Book of Records was not answered until the 36th edition in 1989: "Britain's fastest game bird is the Red Grouse (Lagopus l. scoticus) which, in still air, has recorded burst speeds up to 92.8-100.8 km/h 58-63 mph over very short distances. Air speeds up to 112 km/h 70 mph have been claimed for the Golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) when flushed, but it is extremely doubtful whether this rapid-flying bird can exceed 80-88 km/h 50-55 mph - even in an emergency".

I used a shutter speed of 1/2000 to freeze the wings on this Red Grouse flying full pelt over the Peak District Moors.

Tags:   Lagopus scoticus Red Grouse flying flight Peak District South Yorkshire Tim Melling

N 39 B 2.7K C 8 E Nov 20, 2018 F Dec 9, 2018
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Superficially this looks like a Blackbird, but when you look closely you see the beak and tail are too long. This is a Plain Laughingthrush (Garrulax davidi), which is only found in the mountains of China (1600-3500m) and is not particularly common in the limited range where it does occur. Moreover, like other laughingthrushes it prefers to keep to thick cover, so getting a relatively open photograph like this was no mean feat. I photographed this one near Roueregai on the Tibetan Plateau at c3500m while our journey was delayed by snow. It also goes by the name of Père David's Laughingthrush who is commemorated in the scientific name davidi.

Tags:   Garrulax davidi Père David's Plain laughingthrush Sichuan China Tim Melling

N 81 B 3.1K C 29 E Nov 13, 2018 F Dec 8, 2018
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The Red Panda has been classified as endangered by IUCN since 2008 because there are fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and the population is decreasing. I photographed this wild Red Panda in Sichuan in China, where they occur in high altitude forests (c3000m) with a bamboo understorey. They feed mainly on bamboo shoots while they remain hidden in bamboo thickets. But in the autumn they emerge from the thickets to climb trees in search of berries and rosehips, which makes them a bit easier to see. This one was feeding on rosehips down a bank, which enabled me to stand on top of the bank and look down on him.

Because they have eye-patches, eat bamboo and live in the same areas, they were thought to be related to Giant Pandas but DNA has settled the issue. They are not bears, but are in a family all by themselves (Ailuridae) but that falls within the super family Musteloidae which includes Weasels, Otters, Skunks and Raccoons.

Incidentally, this is the eastern race Ailurus fulgens styani which is found in China and northern Burma. It is distinguished from the nominate race from Nepal and Bhutan by its thicker, blacker body fur. Eastern animals are more uniformly red.

Tags:   Ailurus fulgens styani Red Panda Sichuan China Tim Melling


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