The Red Grouse (lagopus, Lagopus Scotica) is not an unfamiliar game bird species to me and I used to hunt them many years ago as a teenager. They are endemic to the British Isles and now my motivation to spend some time with them is to photograph them and they have been on my Photography "Bucket list" for several years now. This past March I made the effort to fly over briefly to the UK to do so...
The Houbara bustard of the arabian gulf has long synonymously been associated with the arabian falconry tradition but in recent years their numbers have dwindled significantly due to unsustainable hunting practices and the rapid human population growth of their native lands and oil and gas exploration.
I've never photographed an air show before but it has been something i'd wanted to try when the opportunity arose. This opportunity happened to arise early this year and i spent an enjoyable afternoon capturing images of the various aircraft in flight. It's great fun to do and certainly something I'd recommend.
There are three main recreational activities that pre-occupy the local people and these being Horse racing, falcon racing and Camel racing. originally the camel jockeys were young children but the injuries (and deaths) caused became socially unacceptable and now the use of robotic jockeys is commonplace and widely adopted with few exceptions.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque constitutes as one of the most prominent and beautiful architectural monuments in the world and certainly one of the more opulent religious buildings I have ever visited. Standing very distinctive on the Abu Dhabi skyline, this magnificent building is named after the UAE's first President and visionary leader, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who passed away in November 2004 and is buried at the site. He was known for his patience, insightfulness and optimism but it is generally accepted that the central trait of his personality was his great wisdom.
The art of falconry can trace it's routes to some 4 thousand years to the asian and arabian cultures where falconry was once practiced as a source of gathering food long before the advent of gunpowder and guns. Brought back to Europe in the middle ages with the numerous Christian crusades, falconry soon became the sport of the kings and queens and the very wealthy. At the turn of the 20th century it made its way to the Americas and now is practiced as a largely recreational pastime throughout the world but it's routes have not been forgotten and even today the sport of falconry is woven into the very tapestry of arabian life.
The falcon races are a new thing for most westerners (falconers) and the nearest thing we have to this in North America are the sky trails where falconers and their falcons are competing against each other in attaining a great pitch and drastic stoop and chase of the fastest of pigeons released beneath them. Here in the gulf (GCC) countries the ability to find and hunt wildlife is very hard and combined with the lack of natural wild quarry and strict laws pertaining to hunting, it was somewhat inevitable that the countries leadership, set on maintaining and if not enhancing cultural heritage, had the foresight and vision to create the falcon races.