cancel
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Gannets - A Photo Essay

Tronhard
Elite

I am expanding on the image that I showed to explain more about the Gannet colony and the birds themselves.

 

Gannets are among the largest sea birds on the planet. The biggest are obviously the Albatross, of which we have a colony in NZ, on a peninsula near the city of Dunedin, making that the most accessible colony of its type in the world. They are diving predators, plummeting into the ocean to attack prey, often balls of fish like sardines and macrel. If you have seen any of the fabulous series by David Attendborough you will have seen how they interact with dolphins and seals that drive prey to the surface where the gannets attack in numbers.

 

The Australasian gannets make their homes (predictably enough) between NZ and Australia. They come to NZ to mate and the fledglings, on their first flight, make the 2,000km trip to Australia, where they stay for several years before returning to NZ to breed. Quiet a few of our human kiwis do something similar actually...

 

The breeding season starts between August and October and lasts until February when the last birds migrate. Gannets lay a single egg that takes about 44 days to incubate and hatch. During that time the males and females share nesting responsibilities, fishing in the waters of the Tasman sea, made rich for all life by cold currents deivering nutrients from the depths.

 

Sadly, like all sea birds there has been a drop in numbers - our Royal Albatrosses are in the endangered category, and the common gull population is plummeting. This is due to several causes: over-fishing, changes in ocean currents reducing nutrient levels or types of fish in their territories and, massively, plastics that they pick up by mistake and fill their guts, causing them to literally starve to death. This is not unique to these birds, it is a world-wide phenomenon. Plastic rings, often used in many countries to hold pop cans together can end up around their necks so they cannot swallow their catch and starve that way.

 

So here are some shots of the gannets, taken by a variety of cameras and lenses over an extended period. All by me and all hand-held.

 

7D2_1882a-1.jpg

On the Wing.  With a wingspan twice their body length, they are designed for efficiency in gliding.

 

7D2_1926a-1.jpg

From the side one can see the streamlined silhouette

NDF_0309a-1-2.jpg

The colony is rare in that it is on the mainland and easily accessible by road.  Located on NZ's west coast, there is road access to the nearby Muriwai sufring beach to the north, with another road running to homes immediately above the colony peninsulas.

 

NDF_0238a-1-2.jpg

To the south lies a park area with beaches made of black sand, washed from the volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki several hundred km to the south.

 

N1-Muriwai 001.jpg

In the photo above, taken outside the nesting season, one can see the peninsula where the colony lies (hidden at itstip behind the vegetation , along with several craggy islets off the coast.  The visitors' car park is at the bottom of the image.

 

0000 Gannet Colony LR.jpg

While access to the birds' nesting area is fenced off, there are a couple of viewing platforms from which one can get up close and personal with the birds, which (by and large) seem to ignore the many visitors.

 

000 Gannet Colony LR.jpg

 

002 Gannet Colony LR.jpg

 

001 Gannet Colony LR.jpg

 

7D2_1140.JPG

Early mating rituals involve intricated, synchronized head bobbing

 

7D2_1918a-1.jpg

Eventually the bobbing turns to mutual grooming and caressing

 

002 Gannets Mating LR.jpg

And finally mating - not easy in a brisk breeze!  Note the plastic used for nesting on the top right.

 

7D2_1909a-1.jpg

Then nest-building begins in earnest, with much competition for the best spots and materials.

 

NZ Auckland Muriwai Gannet 11.jpg

 

7D2_1239-1.jpg

At last an egg!

 

7D2_1258-1.jpg

After a month and a half of incubation a fluffy chick appears - which an apetite that keeps both parents busy providing shelter from the sun and food.

 

NDF_0252a-1-2.jpg

The chick spends much of its time strengthening its flight muscles and gaining body mass

 

7D2_1192-0-1-1.jpg

To pass the time gannets are quite fond of reading  - in this case a discarded pamphlet encouring visitors to take their litter...

 

Muriwai-Gannet copy-1-2.jpg

 

NZ Auckland Muriwai Gannet Colony Sunet 06.jpg

During the day it's hot, smelly, crowded and busy, but sunset is a good time to get some great views.

 

Muriwai Gannet 006.JPG

They are very interesting birds and I feel priviliged to have such easy access to them


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
1 REPLY 1

KellyKellyKelly
Contributor

Wow! Cat Surprised

 

 Great Essay and photos! Beautiful birds. My favorite photo is the one of the gannets at sunset (17th photo). I'm glad that there are photographers out there like you that brings to light how we need to be very mindful to take good care of this great planet and the animals beecause all lifee is connected.

 

 

Announcements
01/18/2023: New firmware version 1.1.1 is available for EOS R6 Mark II
01/09/2023: Help ensure your autofocus is properly aligned with a Canon Precision Alignment
01/03/2023: Welcome to CES 2023!
12/08/2022: New firmware version 1.0.5.1 is available for EOS C70
12/07/2022: New firmware version 1.7.0 is available for EOS R5
12/07/2022: New firmware version 1.7.0 is available for EOS R6
11/22/2022: New firmware available for EOS R3, EOS R7 and EOS R10
11/16/2022: We're thrilled to be ranked among the Best Employers for Veterans in 2022 by Forbes.
08/31/2022: New firmware version 1.1.1 is available for RF 70-200mm L IS USM
08/09/2022: New firmware version 1.2.0 is available for CR-N 300
08/09/2022: New firmware version 1.2.0 is available for CR-N 500
07/14/2022: New firmware version 1.0.1 is available for CR-X300
06/10/2022: Service Notice:UPDATE: Canon Inkjet Printer continuous reboot loop or powering down
06/07/2022: New firmware version 1.3.2 is available for PowerShot G7 X Mark III
05/31/2022: Did someone SAY Badges?
05/26/2022: New firmware version 1.0.5.1 is available for EOS-C500 Mark II
05/26/2022: New firmware version 1.0.3.1 is available for EOS-C300 Mark III
05/10/2022: Keep your Canon gear in optimal condition with a Canon Maintenance Service
05/05/2022: We are excited to announce that we have refreshed the ranking scale within the community!
04/26/2022: New firmware version 1.0.1.1 is available for EOS R5 C
03/23/2022: New firmware version 1.0.3.1 is available for EOS-C70
02/09/2022: Share Your Photos is back!
02/07/2022: New firmware version 1.6.1 is available for EOS-1DX Mark III
01/19/2022: READY FOR ANYTHING EOS-R5 C
01/13/2022: Community Update. We will be retiring the legacy profile avatars on 01/20/2022. Click this link to read more.