Summer Update

The safari park has seen some changes over the last year, the wolves have currently moved back up to the safari drive and are looking great in the long grass of the meadow. The youngsters are fully grown, so the pack looks great with Dad showing them how to be Wolves. Kuzma the male Tiger has returned to Banham Zoo where he has been joined by a new female Tiger and Miron has arrived here at Knowsley from Copenhagen Zoo. This very large male Tiger is settling in well and looks amazing in his new surroundings.

If you visited last year some of you may have noticed a change to the White Rhino, with Jazz and Bhinta moving on, to help the breeding programme. Keva and Byami have joined Winnie, Piglet and Meru, plus the males, Sharka and Pembay making up the very large crash.

Last year also saw the Chapmans Zebra depart and new Grevy Zebra arrive. The two stallions are still in a side paddock settling into Safari Park life, but we can’t wait for them to join the other animals on the Africa section of the drive.

The Bushdogs have seen a complete refurbishment of their exhibit and they are loving playing around in their new surroundings, which also gives us much better viewing opportunities.

Our safari park and macro studio 1-2-1 photograph events have been really popular over the last few months. We’ve also had lots of customers coming along with another member of their family, a friend or colleague as an additional attendee on these events. Normally these second (or even third) places are charged at £25, but for August and September we are doing them ABSOLUTELY FREE!

All you need to do is find a ‘photo buddy’ to come along, book an event & schedule a date during August or September and you can get an amazingly good value day of quality photography!

Thank you to everyone who entered our Easter Photography Competition, we were overwhelmed with the response and it was a very difficult decision to pick the winners.

After much deliberation we are please to announce the winners below. Due to the amount of great pictures received, we have added in a Highly Commended image for each category and each winner will receive a £20 Wild Arena voucher.

Category 1 – Nature in Bloom

Winner – Ruth Brotherton

Easter Photography Competition

Runner Up – Carole Kitson

Highly Commended – Clive Foreman

Category 2 – My Lockdown Companion

Winner – Mark Davies

Runner Up – Laura Boothroyd

Highly Commended – Judy Munford

Category 3 – Backyard Safari

Winner – Michael Porter

Runner Up – Clive Foreman

Highly Commended – Carol Kitson

Overall Winner – Micheal Porter

Once again thank you to everyone who took part, we really enjoyed looking through all your images and we hope you all really enjoyed taking them.

For the original list of prizes please click here

 

It has been a crazy year, with most of us stuck at home or working incredibly hard. Easter hopefully will see the start of restrictions easing, so what better way to celebrate being outside in nature again than to dust off your camera and show us what spring means to you! This is an incredibly easy photography competition, we would just like nature pictures taken over the easter break, they should show the wonders of the natural world and how the places around us are bursting into life.

You can submit up to 3 images per category and our team will pick the ones that we feel meet the brief, and are of a technically and creatively, very high standard.

What are the categories and prizes are here you say … this is the most important bit, so here they are:

Categories

We initially thought we would do a simple ‘enter to win’ competition, but judging such a broad range of potential subjects, one against the other, can be difficult. So, we have decided on 3 categories to really help focus everyone’s minds!

(1) Nature in bloom

This category is all about flowers & plants and how, at this time of year, they are just emerging and starting to fill our landscape and gardens with bright vibrant colours. Please note, we are hoping to see wild or garden flowers not inside bouquets or florist examples.

(2) My lockdown companion

Over lockdown those of you who have pets will have really appreciated how they have supported us and kept us going through some lonely times, so this category is all about showing your love and appreciation for them with some wonderful pictures, capturing their crazy personalities or their simple calming influence.

(3) Backyard Safari

Our final category includes all that lovely wildlife that exists just outside your door, from the yearlong birds who stay around in the coldest of weathers to seasonal but sleepy animals who are just yawning and making their way out of their winter hideaways to greet the spring sunshine. Everything from small jumping spiders to larger mammals, as long as you found it here in the UK and close to your home, it counts!

Prizes 

So, onto the second most important bit, the prizes!

  • Each category winner will receive a Wild Arena ‘Membership Plus’ worth £199, which includes a number of options for a photographic day out.
  • The runners up will receive a Wild Arena ‘Membership Extra’ worth £49, which also includes a photography session with us.
  • Finally, we will also pick an overall winner who will also receive a fantastic Lowepro bag worth £200!

The winners will be contacted via email on 1st May and then announced on our website and Facebook on 2nd May 2021

How to Enter

To enter simply send us your pictures (as a Jpeg file no larger than 2Mb), to us via email at info@wildarena.com

Competition Rules

  • Open to all residents of the UK except Wild Arena employees. By entering the competition, the participants agree that their name and nearest town of residence may be released if they win.
  • All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not contravene the rights of third parties.
  • All images must be taken over the Easter period (29thMarch to 16th April) in the UK. We may not be able to verify everyone’s images, so we are expecting you to be honest.
  • Technical spec: images must be entered as .jpg files no larger than 2Mb.
  • Entrants grant Wild Arena the right to place their entry onto the Wild Arena website in relation to the competition.
  • Entries must be submitted by 23rdApril 2021.
  • The winning entrants will be the ones that in the judge’s opinion are the best.
  • Once photos are submitted, they cannot be changed.
  • The judges’ decisions are final.

 

We were lucky enough to first visit the beautiful landscape of central Norway back in 2007 and since then have returned many times. Our initial invitation was to see a number of locations, but particularly to focus on the chance to see and photograph wild Eagles. Memorably we were not disappointed and over the coming 3 or 4 years, we have had some amazing encounters with these illusive creatures.

Typically, a trip to see the Norwegian Eagles would begin with meeting our host, Ole Martin Dahle at the airport, followed by a scenic drive north from Trondheim passing rugged coastline, sleepy fjords and forested hillsides. After around 3 hours we would arrive at our destination, the small village of Lauvsnes.  Very comfortable accommodation is provided by Ole Martin’s guest house, sat above the harbour, with great views across to the hills and water beyond.

There is something very special about this part of the world as autumn begins to turn to winter and colder temperatures invite snow and ice into the landscape. Of course, the wild countryside is beautiful in all seasons, but the shorter days and low light just adds a magical feeling of the raw majesty of nature. This time of year is also perfect for Eagles, as it provides a chance to see, both Golden Eagles from hides as well as the majestic White Tailed Sea Eagles fishing out on the fjords.

A trip will normally start with a relaxed chat with Ole over hot tea and coffee at the guest house, to plan which subjects we should target on what days. In fine weather it is more likely we would plan to head out in Ole’s boat and try and photograph the White Tailed Eagles, fishing in the complex maze of fjords and islands in the surrounding area. However, if the immediate weather is less favourable, Golden Eagles would be a usual choice.

Kongeørn, as Golden Eagles are called in Norway, are notoriously shy and timid, and it takes a huge amount of care and patience to create a hide that is simply good enough to predictably attract these iconic raptors. Ole Martin usually has several options, all set out perfectly for photography. Lighting direction, backgrounds and angles are all thought through and Ole will take great care in positioning natural carrion bait to attract the birds.

 

Photographing the Golden Eagles, largely follows the same pattern. In order to enter the hides in such a way as to not disturb them. An early start is required to be in the hides well before dawn. The short walk in induces a sense of anticipation of what might follow and as your head torch picks out small pieces of the snowy landscape, it is easy to imagine the Eagles watching from their hidden, wild roosts.  Once in the hides it is just a question of carefully positioning your camera and then getting comfortable. In the colder months, the hides usually have a small heater running to lift the temperature and it is easy to stay warm with a cosy sleeping bag wrapped over your legs and body.

It is then, of course, just a matter of staying quiet and patiently waiting. With hot coffee from a flask and a supply of snacks, the time passes easily, as you watch from the small hide windows as the light grows from the east and begins to illuminate the scene before you.  Hooded crows, Magpies and Ravens might well visit the bait before the eagles, so there are still fascinating things to watch, although you might need to be careful in not moving your camera prematurely. With a little luck and stoicism, the moment then comes when you notice other birds become quieter and then your eye catches a different movement. By comparison to other visitors the Golden Eagles are huge, and you are instantly aware of their steely, magnetic presence.

Cautiously at first, they approach the food set out for them and the job of the photographers in the hide is to hold their nerve and wait for the birds to become relaxed and start feeding. This might take a few minutes or an hour, but it is crucial the Eagles feel no risk or threat around them. Once settled however, it is the possible to carefully position cameras and begin to tentatively shoot the pictures you had been hoping for. As the golden light moves across the sky, morning drifts into afternoon and after eating their fill the Eagles will move away. It is time to leave the hides and return to the warmth of the guest house and review the pictures from the day.

If the weather is better and winds are calm, we can change tack and think about capturing dramatic images of White Tailed Eagles fishing. Again, these days start early as we want to be out on the water to make the most of the early morning sun. Ole knows the local Sea Eagles intimately and will have a good idea of the best places to visit. The objective of course, is to attract these amazing birds down by providing fish for them to eat. The fjords are beautiful and there are chances to shoot the Eagles against a variety of backgrounds. Amazingly the White Tails seem to know the boat and often are in the air and following as soon as we arrive. With great skill, Ole positions the boat, considering wind direction for the Eagles and light for the photographers, and then throw a fish into the water at the perfect distance. With a little good fortune most trips out will have a good number of ‘Eagle dives’ to give multiple chances for great pictures.

Even with a busy schedule of Golden Eagles and White Tailed Eagles, we would normally find a little time to explore the amazing local landscape. Quiet forests, majestic hills and deep shaded fjords all make for super images. There might even be an opportunity to try and shoot images of other native bird species from one of the hides to broaden out the portfolio from the trip.

The one problem we always find with a visit to Norway, is it just isn’t long enough and leaving always induces a feeling we should return soon. The landscapes and abundance of extraordinary Eagles make for an unforgettable trip. This part of Norway truly is the ‘realm of the Eagles’.

 

We’ve been thinking about how much we all depend on the extraordinary efforts of our amazing NHS workers in these troubled times.

As a small token of our gratitude for these amazing people we’ve decided to offer any

nhs.uk

worker with an interest in photography a FREE WILD ARENA MEMBERSHIP (normally worth £19)! We know it’s not much but it will give them priority booking and special discounts and we would love to see them on our events as things improve in the spring.

If you are an NHS worker and you are interested in photography, just message us, call on 0151 528 6607 or e-mail us at info@wildarena.com and we’ll be delighted to get you involved for FREE!
There’s no catch it’s just something we thought we could do to acknowledge the work these amazing people do!

We are only 4 days away from Christmas now and hopefully you will all get to have time to relax and maybe even reflect on the strange year we have had.

If you still have presents to buy or ‘Aunt Mable’ is asking you for ideas, then it’s not too late to get that photography day, to get you out and about in the new year, with inspiration and contact with some truly lovely animals. You can book this for a set date or as an open dated voucher and we are currently offering:

One to One Marco or Safari
Full Day £300

Half Day £150

Bite Size £75

Wolf Pack Photography Workshop £75
Harvest Mouse Photography Workshop £75
Macro Workshop £149
Macro Masterclass £299

If you are still having to shield or you’re not quite happy to go out and about yet, then we have some great tutored online content for you:

Advanced Macro Photography Techniques £35
Introduction to Macro Photography £25
Bite Size Training £75
12 Week Introduction to Creative Photography £310

Sadly you have now missed the post but we can email out printable vouchers and details for orders received by 11am on 24th December, which you will receive by 5pm on 24th.

Due to local lockdowns we’ve had a cancelation for the 14.08.20. So if anyone fancies doing our Wolf Cub Photography Workshop, we have just 2 spaces on this date. Click here for more details

We are very excited to announce two special dates in the Easter holidays for a wonderful morning session with Knowsley’s Lions 16thand 17thApril 2019

The aim of this session is to concentrate solely on the two Lion Prides here at Knowsley Safari first thing in the morning as they are starting their day. We’ll get exclusive access to the park before it opens to the public with the prides in their overnight enclosures and also in the drive through as they explore and check over their territory. For more information or to book your space click here.

Here at Wild Arena we love all the animals we work with, and of course all the money you spend on photography workshops, helps the organisations we are visiting to continue their great work. James Welch one of the fabulous Lion keepers who works at Knowsley is so passionate about his Lions, that in his spare time he runs the charity The Safina Lion Conservation Fund. This charity is a great way for us to not only support Lions in the wild but also support James in his wonderful work. We’ll leave James to tell you more about the charity and how we are supporting him.

‘I was delighted to be approached by Wild Arena last year to see how they could help us, a newly formed charity with similar interests to their own. After some brainstorming in their kitchen over food! It was decided that for all Big Cat Workshops held by Wild Arena at both Knowsley Safari Park and Woburn Safari Park that Janet and David would donate one pound for each guest attending, towards our cause.

At the Safina Lion Conservation Fund we aim to educate the public about the plight of the lion in the wild by working with zoos to hold educational events and talks and through information on our website. We also work to raise funds for lion conservation efforts working hard to protect these iconic animals in the wild. It is a little known fact that the lion was once one of the most widespread large land mammals on the planet, and that their persecution now means their overall wild population is now estimated at less than 30,000. The first project that we have been able to support is an organisation called ‘Lion Guardians’. They work by recruiting illiterate pastoralist warriors and training them to read, write, work GPS equipment and learn how to monitor and protect lions in the wild. Each Lion Guardian is given a zone to protect and are responsible for the lions within it. These Guardians are extremely valuable people as not only are they from the community themselves, they have grown up with the problems faced by confrontation with lions and many have killed lions in the past. Now by working for and with lions, they are perfectly qualified to sympathise with their community and to know the struggles that they are facing. We work with them by sponsoring a years salary for one of these Guardians. Our first Lion Guardian was Longoi Ole Parsitau, he was based outside the Amboseli National Park in Kenya and monitored an area called ‘Risa’. Sadly Longoi retired this year but our sponsorship will now move on to his brother Kuya Kipampa who has started to monitor the same area. Once trained Lion Guardians are a formidable yet familiar face for the local community who try to mitigate conflicts and solve problems for the lions and the people.

We are so thankful to everyone at Wild Arena and to everyone who has taken part in a big cat workshop this year as you have contributed nearly £500 to our cause! Thanks to your help we are able to provide another years sponsorship for Lion Guardians which will take us well into 2019. I look forward to updating you all again and I hope many of you are pleased to know what a portion of your fee has gone towards. For more information on Lion Guardians and our other projects please look on our website’.

Thanks again!

James Welch

Chairman

Safina Lion Conservation Fund

We are hoping to tie in more of our workshops with relevant charities and will keep you updated on these and of course on James’s progress.