I spotted an advert for the International Wildbird Photographer Competition 2005 (http://www.iwpawards.com ) which might interest some of you. A condition of the competition is that all pictures entered must be of "wild, free-flying birds". While I fully accept the wild free-flying condition of entry it does raise a point of what is a truly wild free-flying bird. I take most of my (very amateur - in worst sense ) bird pictures at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust center at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, UK. (See http://www.wwt.org.uk to find out all about it but briefly the center is an 80 acre collection in the midst of an 800 acre wetland reserve which is covered by the Ramsar convention and is an SSSI etc.). Obviously photos of collection birds are not allowed as these have their wings pinioned and can't fly at all but the collection is also home to other birds for instance this black headed gull is truly wild NIKON D1H    ---    370mm    f/10.0    1/400s    as is this one NIKON D1H    ---    40mm    f/8.0    1/250s    The picture above is interesting in that half the birds in it are free flying and half are not. For a lot of the free flying birds it is debatable whether they are truly wild. For instance this bird is a Greylag Goose which is one of a large flock which fly in when the center opens at 9:30 am, hang around all day begging food off the visitors and depart to where ever it is they roost in the evening. This large flock stay locally all year round (Or we thought they did till someone decided to ring some of them and we found at least some of them "migrate" to a public park in Glasgow to moult.) Now a truly wild Greylag goose would be away breeding and moulting in Iceland at this time of year rather than feeding out of children's hands in Slimbridge - would a portrait of this bird qualify for the photo competition? Then there are these fellows: NIKON D1H    ---    400mm    f/8.0    1/800s    They are certainly free flying but are they wild birds? They probably think they are even when intimidating visitors: NIKON D1H    ---    40mm    f/7.6    1/250s    but the Queen claims to own all those except some "owned" by various London Guilds on the Thames. So the question is where do you draw the line at what is a "wild, free-flying bird" if you are going to enter the International Wildbird Photographer Competition?