Afgannetstan, Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

 

How gannet be? @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

How gannet be? @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Where are Gannets from? Where do they nest and rest? Are they seasonal visitors or permanent residents? No one I asked could ever answer these questions.

Mysterious bird @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Mysterious bird @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

So, how gannet be, that these agile deep divers fly under our radar?

Fish and fisher @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fish and fisher @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fishermen replied: ‘When the Gannets are here, the ’Garies’ (Garfish) arrived’. Yeah right!? As if they didn’t know that already. The title says it all. Where else would gannets be from?

Cruising starlight @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Cruising starlight @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

I have seen Gannets on my paddle adventures many times, but it was always only the odd one.

Cruising overhead @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Cruising overhead @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

They are majestic to watch, gliding over Maniyak with their impressive wingspan.

Spotted @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Spotted @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

If sizeable fish are spotted close to the surface from high above, they arrow with high speeds into the water. This splendid maneuver was always observed from a marginal distance. This was about to change.

Squadron leader @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Squadron leader @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Little did I expect the squadron of areal attack at Crowdy Head on New South Wales’ Mid North Coast. At least 4 birds were circling over Crowdy Head’s ‘hub’, a relatively small and shallow harbour.

Soaring orbital @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Soaring orbital @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Not only was it their impressive wingspan orbiting above my crowded head.

Ready to take the plunge @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Ready to take the plunge @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Their most extraordinary features are a spectacle for sore eyes and captured my fascination. The plunge.

Unexpected Struggles @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Unexpected Struggles @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The struggle to swallow fish.

Off for another round @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Off for another round @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

And to finish the procedure off, the runway to get back in to the air.                                     Eat and repeat times 4.

Restful @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Restful @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Unless a rest on calm waters is needed.

Nothing like a good shake @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Nothing like a good shake @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Shaking off excess water will help for take-off.

Cleaning station @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Cleaning station @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

A quick comb through the plumage is never a bad idea.

Under my nose @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Under my nose @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Wow, who would have known about this action-packed scenario at this sleepy seaside community? I witnessed all this with my camera in hand.

Couldn’t ask for better conditions @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Couldn’t ask for better conditions @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Perfectly calm and sunny days added ideally to this photographic adventure.

Surfing small waves @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Surfing small waves @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

This extraordinary behaviour will be shown in my next few posts. Let’s start on how it all begins.

Fly-by menu selection @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fly-by menu selection @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The gannet’s aim to select and pick a fish from 20 meters above, is above average. They need gravitational speed to be able to dive underwater.

Over buoyant @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Over buoyant @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Their body complexion is too buoyant for diving underwater without propelled gravity.

Gannot dive  @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Gannot dive @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Gannets can’t ’just’ dive underwater as cormorants do.

Fishy, fishy? @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fishy, fishy? @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Whilst soaring through the air above, they keep an eye out for movements on the water surface.

Aerial acrobatics @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Aerial acrobatics @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Once possible prey has been spotted, their strategy kicks in automatically. A reflex turns into action within split seconds. Their sharp eyesight is focused on a fishy target.

Eyes are locked in on target @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Eyes are locked in on target @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

As their neck points to the direction, their body turns immediately.

Kamikaze @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Kamikaze @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Their wings are positioned like a fighter jet.

Up to 100 km/h fast @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Up to 100 km/h fast @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

This position provides the fastest projectile shape for maximum speed.

Fascinating @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fascinating @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Once the impact location is chosen, their wings are set in missile shape and the rocket is on its way.

Smooth entry @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Smooth entry @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The body crouches to the most narrow formation just before impact. Darting into waters with minimal impact force. Wow! The Hub was under attack.

Arrow head @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Arrow head @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The bones in the gannet’s skull are strengthen. Their long neck extends gradually to an air-pumped plumage around the body, cushioning surface entrance. Feet and tail dive in last. Fishermen often get a fright when that plummeting sound appears out of nowhere right in front of them. Incoming!

Reflecting on the years @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Reflecting on the years @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Just writing these sentences does not make any ’normal’ sense for us humans. Darting from 20 meters above in to water, reaching up to 100 km/h!? Over and over again? I find that hard to comprehend. 

Nature’s spectacular @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Nature’s spectacular @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Mother Nature is just spectacular, right under our nose. The locals have ’seen it too many times’ to care.

Mouthwash @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Mouthwash @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fishermen get annoyed if they are chasing away their fish. Or even pinch it. And who knows what the locals thought about me? Haha, who cares? The looks on their faces were just priceless. Watching me, chasing these birds up and down the jetty with my camera in my hand. This I only noticed when I needed to readjust my position and had surprised eyes facing me.

Minding it’s own business @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Minding it’s own business @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

To lift the mystery about gannets, I did some research. These nest preferably on rocky islands in cold southern waters. However, Australia and New Zealand host a few gannet colonies on isolated headlands. It takes about 5 years for a youngster to reach maturity.

Speckled hen @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Speckled hen @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Young gannets are easily recognised on their speckled plumage. They seem to prefer ‘easier’ fishing grounds around the coastline, often close to human contact.

Adult gannet @ Coffs Coast, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Adult gannet @ Coffs Coast, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Adult gannets glow in bright feathers.

Graceful and stunning @ Coffs Coast, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Graceful and stunning @ Coffs Coast, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The orange head looks fabulous on any ocean.

Exploring @ Coffs Coastline, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Exploring @ Coffs Coastline, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Gracefully exploring vast seas ahead.

One thought on “Afgannetstan, Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

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