Monday, 22 April 2013

Waxwings at Orrell Water Park

It's been a great year for Waxwings in the UK and, as I've been reading reports of large numbers of these gorgeous birds (200+) at Orrell Water Park recently, I decided to go and have a look for myself today.  It seems that Peter Alker lives in a house near to the entrance to the Park and has been regularly feeding the birds on apples, which he has liberally scattered throughout the treetops in his own garden and in a section of the woods in the adjacent parkland.

It's been quoted on the Manchester Birding Forum that the Waxwings are getting through 20 kilos of apples a day and so feeding them has become a considerable expense.  However, with donations of money from local birders and some unwanted apples from local supermarkets, Peter has managed to continue the supply for a good few weeks now with the result that the birds are still here, when they might normally have been expected to return to their homelands in Scandinavia.

This is my third Waxwing photoshoot this year and although the weather was a little mixed, with only a few moments of sunshine shining through the clouds, I managed a few decent shots of the 90+ birds I saw today.  The birds were spooked at least twice by a passing Sparrowhawk and they all took off and disappeared when it flew past, only to return to the treetops some 25 minutes later.

They made a wonderful tinkling sound as they grouped together in the trees, waiting for one of their advance party to go back down to the apples and check that the coast was clear.  And then they'd suddenly descend en masse to raid the fruit, seemingly oblivious of camera shutters and passers by.  Only very large vehicles and the Sparrowhawk seemed to bother them.

Whilst I was there I met fellow photographer John Cobham who takes excellent landscape photos and who has had several of them published in magazines.  He later gave me a few tips on his digital editing workflow which I shall be putting into action sometime soon.

To finish here's one more photo - you just can't get enough photos of Waxwings, can you?

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