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Photo Information
Copyright: Paul Kettel (pauljk) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 204 W: 64 N: 65] (226)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-12-27
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D2Xs, 300mm AF-S F4 Nikkor, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/6.7, 1/750 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Birds of New Zealand [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-12-30 12:53
Viewed: 4571
Points: 8
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Australasian Gannet

Some data about gannets

* wingspan up to 180 cm
* overall length 90 cm
* a single egg is laid around September/October/November
* incubation time about 44 days
* chicks stay in the colony until February/March
* the birds then migrate to Australia, returning after 2-6 years
* it is said that (after weeks of furious flapping of wings on land) the first flight of the juvenile birds takes them to their destination more than 2000 km away.

The gannet family or Sulidae is related to the shags and pelicans and contains mainly the tropical boobies. There are three subspecies, bassana of the North Atlantic, capensis of southern Africa and serrator of New Zealand and Australia. Morus serrator breeds in New Zealand, the Norfolk group of islands and Australia. In New Zealand they breed in 28 colonies, the largest being Gannet Island, west of Kawhai, and White Island in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

To see a company of gannets working a shoal of fish is a memorable sight. At one moment flying perhaps a 100 feet above the waves with a steady rhythmic beat and then swooping to just skimming the waves before lifting high again, steadying itself and then, with astonishing speed, diving, head first into the water with a splash. They will reappear a few seconds later and then rise from the water with consummate ease and grace to start the hunt again. Just before entry into the water they fully stretch their wings backwards, entering the water at tremendous speeds. Inflatable air sacks beneath the skin on the lower neck and breast absorb the shock of entry. In shallow water they dive at an angle.

The diet of gannets is mainly small fish such as pilchards, anchovy and jack mackerel from shallow water and saury from deep water. They are almost entirely marine, feeding primarily over the continental shelf and inshore waters but they may also enter harbours and estuaries. They are classified as a protected native bird.

Gannets have not suffered the depradations of other birds in New Zealand. The habit of nesting on islands protects them. The breeding colonies are generally deserted during most of the autumn and early winter. The date breeding birds return varies according to where the colony is. The first birds appear in late July and the breeding population steadily increases reaching a peak by mid November. Male birds return first to sites they occupied the previous year.

Sources: www.nzbirds.com www.math.auckland.ac.nz/~hafner/gannets/

jusninasirun, elizabeth has marked this note useful
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To elizabeth: Muriwai Colonypauljk 1 03-03 11:57
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Critiques [Translate]

wonderful shot! very beautiful bird.nice colors. happy new year!!

Hello Paul,

Beautiful shot at this gannet. Beautiful sharpness and details with full span of the wings contrasting well with the blue sky.


Excellent white tones in this very nice capture, I'm guessing you haven't been commenting much on peoples postings and that would explain the low number of comments on this super gannet image. Well done Paul. :)

Stunning! Wonderful detail and beautifully sharp. The contrasts on the white bird in sunlight have been well handled. Makes me want to take a trip to Auckland to photograph the gannets. It's been 21 years since I last visited Muriwai. Are the birds there all year round? It was late November when I was there last time.

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