This afternoon I had a rather unexpected treat: a trip with my father and my nephew to Eagle Heights conservation centre, near Swanley. There aren’t many places in rural England where the farm cats watch the skies for European Eagle Owls on the hunt. Tucked away behind an English Heritage Roman ruin, this animal centre does amazing work by their motto of “conservation via education”. Not content with helping raptors and owls, they’ve even extended themselves to huskies, camels, tortoises and cheetahs.
As we arrived, there was a reconstruction of a savannah kill that started with a cheetah belting downhill on a zip line after a dead rabbit. The speed was breathtaking and predator collided with prey before they reached the crowd at the end of the tracks. Once the take-down was over, a number of carnivorous birds were released and the “that’s my rabbit” dance began in earnest.
We were introduced to some beautiful storks who have a great strategy for attracting fish: they crap down their own legs, which flake off as they wade in the shallows. I shall have to look up the feeding strategies of some other piscivorous birds to see if this behaviour is unique to storks. I’ve included some photos below for inspiration: