Friday, 6 January 2012

Morning Of Waxwings

For a while now I have been looking out for Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) around Norfolk, with no success. But last night, I found a location via Twitter and decided to see if they were still there today. I was surprised when I found out that the sighting was in the middle of a suburb of Norwich called Costessey in a small park.

I arrived about 9am with my mum as she was interested in seeing them as well and to my amazement, I found around 25 of them straight away in a single tree. I was buzzing with excitement. This was my first ever sighting of Waxwings and they didn't disappoint. You can easily identify them, by their crest on the head. I was also surprised at how tame they were, rarely did they fly off even when I got within five metres.

Waxwing's crest.
The majority of the time they rested in the tree together, preening and sleeping. Every five minutes or so, one would move closer to the neighbouring berry-laden tree to have a look. After inspecting the tree, it would quickly fly onto it, followed immediately by the rest of the flock.

Resting in the tree together.

A lone Waxwing inspecting the berry tree.

This scene was repeated every ten minutes or so, the birds only staying on the berry tree for around a minute or so at a time. This was plenty of time to get most of the shots I wanted.

Waxwing eating a berry.

Inspecting the berries.

Perched on the berries.

They stayed in the same place for about an hour before all flying off for a post-breakfast rest. I have been told that they have been here for the past week and have already stripped three trees of berries, with help from the blackbirds, of course. There are now only two trees with berries on and I cannot see them lasting too long, so get down there as soon as possible if you want to see them yourself. I returned later on and they had returned, but this time I only saw them for ten minutes before they all flew off. I did, however, get a few more shots of them.

Posing with its berry.

About to fly back to the tree with its food.

Catching the falling berry.

Watching the berry tree.
  • Use Twitter, it's a great place to get information on locations.
  • Arrive early in the morning, it is usually better light and you are more likely to find them.
  • Research the call of the bird you are looking for. You are more likely to hear a Waxwing before you see it.
Camera: Nikon D7000
Lenses: 300mm, 300mm with a 2X convertor

Cheers for reading and I hope you have enjoyed seeing these as much as I did today. Heading back to Cornwall on Sunday, so I might have to go visit the Waxwings again tomorrow!!

Feel free to follow me on my blog and on Twitter:  Josh_Jaggard

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Seals of Norfolk

Wide Angle of a seal

Last week I spent a few hours on the Norfolk coast with a large number of grey seals and their pups. I was surprised at the amount of people on the beach considering it was pupping season for the seals. The beach is normal pretty empty, but today there must have been over 100 people, mainly to see the seals.

It was an interesting experience and it was good to see how much respect most people had for the seals by keeping their distance, even though several of the seal pups were very intrigued and came right up to meet their visitors at some points. I started off by getting the normal shots of seals laying around like the two below:

Seal Watching Me
Sand blowing in front of the seal

Spending a while looking at the seals, I was able to witness their behaviour, something I had never done before. The bull was parading around with his mouth open. I decided to wait around and watch him. After about five minutes he went close to a female and its pup, causing a fight to break out between the female and the bull. Neither were hurt but the female scared off the bull with a number of scratches and bites. The bull is much heavier and more aggressive than its female counterparts, but this ably demonstrates how the females would risk everything to protect their young.

Female warning off the male with a few bites.

Next I decided to try and get some behavioural shots of the seals, so I walked further along the beach by passing around 20 seals until I came across this large pup who was playing with its flipper.

Nibbling on its flipper
Hiding under its flipper

Below are a few more photos from the shoot. I have tried experimenting a little with these photos and I feel they have worked quite well in obtaining less obvious angles and characteristics of these intriguing creatures.
Mother seal watching me behind its pup.

Upside down pup, sleeping.

Pup peeping out behind some wood.

Whilst photographing the seals, I also came across a dead gull, which I decided to photograph with a view to capturing a dark, moody feel within the image in keeping with the subject matter.

Dead gull on the beach.

I didn't only see a dead gull that afternoon, but a live one eating a large, decaying fish on the beach. I quickly decided to make the most of this opportunity and set up my camera with a remote trigger shown below in the video. It took seven attempts in the end to get the sort of shots I wanted.

This is one of the shots taken via remote trigger;

Gull eating its lunch

  • Be patient and keep trying to obtain the shot you wanted (took me 7 attempts)
  • Look for behaviour or anything unusual and stay with the subject
  • Do the basics first, then try out different shots
  • Don't get too close or disturb the wildlife.  It is not worth it!!

Camera: Nikon D90 and Nikon D7000
Lenses: 300mm with a 2X convertor and Fish eye
Accessories: Gorilla pod, Remote trigger

Cheers for reading, I am heading back to Cornwall again now to carry on with my River Fal project. So stay tuned for more!!

Feel free to follow me on my blog and on Twitter:  @Josh_Jaggard