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Birdmen // Zak Waters

Pigeon racing is all about love. For the men it is the love of the sport and for the pigeons the love of each other and home.

Two pigeons once paired will stay with each other for life, which is why, when a bird is released at a point 600 miles from its home it will strive to be back beside its partner, often achieving this in under twelve hours. Pairing compatible birds and keeping them fit and healthy, is the key to producing a successful racing pigeon. The season starts in April and ends in September with the younger birds. Normally they are picked up on a Friday evening after the Birdmen have selected and registered their birds. Once the birds are registered and placed in their baskets, which are transported overnight to the chosen race venue, the Birdmen set their race clock timers at a given time, which starts the race timer.

The race distance can vary from 150 miles to a cross-channel race in France, Belgium or Spain. Once freed, the birds begin their journey home where they will be greeted by their anxious owners and it’s unique race ring taken from its leg and placed in a race timer where the race time is recorded. The credibility of winning far outweighs any prize winnings. The Birdmen are the last of a working class breed, through whom one can chart not only the decline of traditional industries in the UK, but changes in the life of a community that is fast becoming lost forever.

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About Zak

 

Zak, a past winner of The Royal Photographic Society Terence Donovan Award, has more than twenty years of experience and achieved recognition amongst his peers. He is an acute observer of people, their cultures and what makes them tick.

He has completed varied assignments for national media, and has covered war zones, celebrities, people with mental health issues and those on the breadline.

“For me, the Antman approach is an effective, creative and liberating solution.”

(To read more about Zak Waters, see Who we are)

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