Gannet be done? Crowdy Head,Northern New South Wales, Australia

 

Seabird vs baitfish @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Seabird vs baitfish @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Seabirds versus baitfish! The odds are pretty obvious, a straight forward calculation. Once the fish is in the bird’s beak, there’s no escape. That was always my impression, until now. Things aren’t always what they seem.

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

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

There are hidden obstacles to overcome, manoeuvres used and techniques utilised.

Frustrating! @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Frustrating! @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

A struggle, that frustrates the hunter beyond believe.

Diving success @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Diving success @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Once the gannet breaks through the sound barrier and through the water surface, the bird utilises its propelled force and agility for a few meters underwater.

Caught! @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Caught! @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The fish doesn’t know what hits it and ends up caught. Gannets pick up a meal most times on their dives here in the hub. These harbour waters are a perfect fishing ground. Relatively clear, calm and shallow waters favour the hunter, not the hunted. Bigger garfish seemed to be choked until no more movement is detected.

Gar-Garfish @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Gar-Garfish @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Trying to swallow a strong flapping fish could easily yield in escape for the fish. Sometimes, they get slapped on the water surface, just to be sure, to be sure, to be sure. Gar-Garfish. This birds learnt its lesson.

Fast food @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Fast food @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Smaller garfish are hastily indulged, there’s hardly any meat on them.

Another appetiser @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Another appetiser @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

A tasty appetiser. So far, so good.

Strugglers  @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Strugglers @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

A few times, I witnessed an unexpected obstacle to overcome, which became more obvious through my photo selection. This is what I captured.

Slender gender @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Slender gender @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Gannets, like all birds of the sea, swallow their fish whole. The garfish’s gender slender makes these fish ideal to flush down their long neck. But there’s a hook. Or better, a long snout with tiny, sharp teeth.

Pin-pointing @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Pin-pointing @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

They won’t be harmful for the gannet’s health but inflict a different problem. If the prey is more then a mouthful, a long and pointy red nose is difficult to place into the gannet’s mouth.

90 degree angle @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

90 degree angle @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The gannet needs to turn the fish by 90 degrees so that it can swallow the fish head-on. This includes the elastic, cartridge like nose. This is easier said than done with larger garfish.

The wiggler @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The wiggler @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The long snout just wouldn’t slip into this gannet’s beak. Or break off.

Slap that fish @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Slap that fish @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

He slipped and he slapped, it just didn’t happen.

Same but different @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Same but different @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

How about this technique then? Tossing the fish’s body weight in the air, rotation may slide it in perfect positioning? I am afraid not!

Cruel on both @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Cruel on both @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

How frustrating would that be? Almost cruel to both participants.

Just doesn’t slip in @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Just doesn’t slip in @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Who would have thought to witness this life on camera? This is a tussle of unexpected proportions. Mind-blowing.

Lower grip @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Lower grip @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Let’s try this again. In order for the right position, this gannet would have to lower its grip on the fish towards the head.

Up it goes @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Up it goes @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

That risks a possible escape from a flapping fish. But there is no other way. The whole fish needs to face the hungry gob, otherwise, it won’t be swallowed.

Still going @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Still going @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

This scenario went on for quite a while. I wasn’t sure for who to feel remorse for.

Just doesn’t slip in @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Just doesn’t slip in @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The fish was literally hanging in there. The pointy snout is just too long, almost as long as the bird’s beak.

Annoyed and frustrated @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Annoyed and frustrated @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The frustration in the gannet’s body language was clear to read. How gannet be done?

Consequently @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Consequently @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The bird came up with an interesting consequence. It actually decided to fly off with the fish in its beak.

A mystery @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

A mystery @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Where would it go and how would it end up swallowing this garfish? I didn’t find out, no happy ending on film. Size does matter!

Good luck! @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Good luck! @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Up in the air is the risk, that other birds may snatch the priced fish off this battled youngster.

Competitor @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Competitor @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Competition is fierce amongst fish eaters. I hope they don’t succeed.

Mouthwash @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Mouthwash @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Interestingly enough, the bird rinses its mouth with water after each meal.

Sticky beak @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Sticky beak @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Sometimes even twice. Garfish scales come off easily in contact with foreign objects.

Floating along @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Floating along @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

This makes it harder for predatory fish to grip the fish, as the scales slip off. The garfish’s scales are relatively big.

Floating along @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Floating along @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

And since we’re in the water, a wash generally follows.

Action shot @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Action shot @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

This is quite a splashy event and effective for the camera. Water sprays in all direction, giving this photo a real sense of action.

Splashing @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Splashing @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Perfect circles form from the moving body, adding structure to this frame.

Splashing circles @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Splashing circles @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

These grow bigger and bigger, making the water surface obscure.

Calm days @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Calm days @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

On a picture-perfect, calm and sunny day, the photographic results are even better.

Reflecting post @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Reflecting post @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Reflecting anchor posts add perfectly to the calm surface. The ripples caused by the gannet’s movements look incredible on the post’s reflection.

Rippled effect @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Rippled effect @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

So much colour rippled in various formations. 

Happy gannet @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

Happy gannet @ Crowdy Head, Northern New South Wales, Australia

And a happy, slightly curious bird compliments the photo. Fantastic. 

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