The gannet’s ability to dive for fish with lightning velocity reverses the speed to get back into the air.
It is the gannet’s most strenuous work-out as it needs to ‘jump’ over the water surface for quite some time before being airborne again.
It assumes dedication, endurance and skill.
For observing bystanders like myself, it’s an unforgettable experience.
This looks like a long-jump discipline at the Olympics. And if that doesn’t make you smile in amuse- and amazement, then I don’t know what will.
Up until this point, the gannet has burned quite some calories. This is hard work for anyone.
Not every dive is successful and may be repeated a few times before snatching a meal. Gannets don’t have the wingspan of an albatross and therefore uses more fuel whilst soaring the sky. This leaves the gannet two options after the plunge.
A rest is called for. Their wings are neatly tucked in behind and extend beyond their body.
This gannet is truly relaxed and enjoys warming rays on calm waters.
A highly floating buoyancy gives the bird stability on the surface.
This suggests thick down feathers for insulation. These birds can live in cold places. More importantly, they can dive into icy waters and rest on stormy seas, they’re all oiled up.
Cormorants are better divers, but their feathers aren’t insulated as well. They need to dry their wings after their acrobatics underwater.
Gannets shake excessive waters off, just like that.
This procedure is often repeated and looks fabulous on film.
They could be immediately ready for take-off again.
Or one could rest a bit longer.
An extensive clean is usually part of the floating protocol. A healthy state of their plumage is extremely important as it is for any bird.
I had gannets float in front of my kayak many times, resting and cruising on the ocean.
The clear waters even show the gannet’s paddle feet. They appear to be too exhausted to fly off again, as I came curiously closer. Gannets prefer open waters to rest peacefully. They stay well clear of lamp posts or other elevated resting options. Because they can.
And because they were attracted to my camera, they posed right in front of me. Those reflections from the anchor pole look fabulous.
The small ripples created by the gannet’s movements reconstruct the image of the pole amazingly.
The wings could be part of the pole. If gannets are well-rested and hungry again, they need to take to the air again. This really is a humorous extravaganza to watch and brings us to option b).
The birds take to the sky once more. Like an oversized jumbo jet, the gannet needs a long runway to take off. This name is used at airports, for those who never knew.
For that, one needs to decide on a direction first. Maybe left?
Better right? Nah, full steam straight ahead.
Does a quick wing check signal the starter motor is ready to proceed? The wings are in working order and ready to propel.
Excessive weight is thrown overboard with one last cheeky smile. See ya later, gator!
This actually fertilises the ocean and recycles the food chain.
One quick breath and we’re ready for take-off. The runway is free, Roger that.
A few strong wing-flaps gives the heavy body forward and upwards momentum simultaneously.
This needs to be increased in distance and height for a period of time.
Their feet are hopping over the runway gannet style.
This is comical. The slapping feet sound like laughter. They don’t gain more height whilst leaping off the surface. Physical laws explain this correctly.
Their short feet can not be clipped behind at take-off, as not enough momentum has been created to overcome gravitational laws. Their feet would create too much drag. Friction kicks in and the bird dives into the water unwillingly. Nature gave these birds the hopp-it technique, it works perfectly.
The runway is marked before the bird takes to the sky.
One final jump and we have take-off.
Gracefully again in orbit.
Ready for the next plunge.
I don’t know how many hours I spent, observing and filming this gannet show.
Only a few meters away from me. It was magnetic, I couldn’t getaway.
They truly take-off the edge.