Saltee Island: meet the Gannets

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Visiting the Gannet nesting site was so much fun. I didn’t get the picture I wanted, but I got something really cool, anyway.

Sometimes Gannets bring in nesting materials – sea weeds, grass, any rubbish they can pick up in the water. This one had got a great catch!

His lady wasn’t impressed though.

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Their body language was so expressive and funny that I couldn’t stop smiling. I know, I humanize them too much, and it could be that the gift was totally accepted and relationship established. As to me, I have got many funny pictures.

The Gannet dances is something to see. I have some pictures of the courtship dances in my previous blogs, but this time I caught a single young male Gannet dancing like no one is watching.

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I hoped to get a good picture of a landing Gannet, but they all landed in an opposite direction or sideways. Gannet is a huge bird that takes a whole frame to fit in, even diagonally.

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I have got many ‘portraits’ and played with them in Photoshop.

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This photograph of a landing Gannet is here to show you what exactly I wanted to capture: the bird ‘stalling’ in the air, its legs positioned towards the rear of the body, and its webbed feet stretched forward.  Everything like in this picture, but from the front.

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Another dance.

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On every ledge of rock there is a nest made of seaweeds, feathers and multicolored bits of rope and fishing net. This female has a very young chick, featherless, with the dark blue skin.

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This chick is at least two weeks old ball of fluffy down.

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Gannets could be very aggressive, both males and females. In this picture you see two gannets trying to kill the third one. Its neck is almost snapped in half, and I don’t know about the outcome because we were leaving the colony at that time.

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It is what I saw from the cliff when I turned back to look at the Gannet nesting site one more time. The main colony looks much smaller than last year. May be the sub-colony on the left side is growing bigger? I hope so. I stood there in awe – you cannot get used to the sight like this one. The air was filled with the sound of the wind, breaking waves, and the distant harsh cries of the Gannets. See you next year, beautiful birds!

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A Youtube video for you to enjoy 🙂

Thank you for joining me in my trip!

More to follow.

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

157 comments

  1. These gannets are quite fascinating, Inese. I have to say the one with a big pile of twigs in his or her mouth made me chuckle and laugh. 😀 I needed this beautiful post to cheer me up. I am just beat and worn out, trying to be a good friend, family meet and hard working woman. Blessings for this brief but valuable oasis, dear. ❤

    1. Thank you! 🙂 Yes, you are right, but then there are just a few visitors at a time on the island. The boat can take only 12 people, and even in the busy days there won’t be more than 24 people altogether, generally the birdwatchers, photographers and people who are interested in the wild life. No dogs, nothing like that. A very well protected place.

  2. This is such a lively post, what a world the Gannet create…love the video, the musical sounds and controlled chaos is just what every day needs 🙂 You have started this post with such a perfect quote: “I didn’t get the picture I wanted, but I got something really cool, anyway.” and I think this is what most, if not every photographer, hope to walk away with when it comes to a planned shoot. Something unique, eye-catching and as you say cooooooooool. A truly great series of photos and a day in the life of the Gannet world ~ wishing you a continuance of your great summer and travel.

    1. Thank you so much for all the good wishes! 🙂 Isn’t that guy in my opening picture cool ? 🙂 I just love him! I wish we could live side by side with all the beautiful creatures of this world, and they could trust us like the Gannets trusted me.
      Have a lovely end of summer you too! 🙂

  3. You’ve captured the lovely gannets in all their beauty, but also a bit of ugliness there with that poor bird’s neck in the grip of another gannet’s beak. Wow, you miss nothing, Inese. I hope he was able to break free! I never knew gannets could be so romantic and bring nest materials to their intended. Sweet. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for your visit, Dead D! Glad I have something macabre to share for your taste 😉 I was surprised too, especially by the grave silence – none of the birds uttered a sound during the assault. It was a cold blood murder 😦

      1. Gannets are murderers, too?! No one is safe, Lady Inese. Next time you visit the Gannets, you must promise me to bring some mace. You really never know — remember: monsters hide in plain sight! 😱

            1. Oh you make me blush, Dead D! Or is it that you are saying that because you are afraid I might sprinkle you with some holy water? Nah, I won’t. But I will post a blog soon, about a place where is plenty of holy water, and it is delicious!

            2. Who couldn’t love you, Lady Inese? I never had the feeling you were going to douse me with holy water! You’re far too kind; even to monsters like me. Delicious, you say? My, you whet my appetite — I look forward to your post, my dear.

    1. Thank you so much for your so lovely comment! Gannets don’t mind people around. At least, they don’t attack or anything, like some gulls do. They go on with their life, and if I sit still at about 6 feet from a bird, I can see it all 🙂 xxxx

  4. This is a brilliant post! The birds are simply divine, and so are you for capturing them so wonderfully! 😀 TY Inese!

  5. So, so many amazing shots…how long do you sit and watch them to capture just the right moment? I would humanize the birds, too–I feel like I can see the impatience in that female’s eye and her desire to say, “That’s nice, dear.” 🙂 But that stalling shot is absolutely brilliant–such a brilliant capture of the feathers spread just so, the hold of the movement that so often is a fluid movement…just…wow. So. brilliant.
    You’ve often given me such lovely compliments for my words. I wish my words could help me say how gifted you are with your lens. xxxxx

    1. Thank you so much for you comment, Jean! I so happy you love the pictures. The stalling shot didn’t come out as I wanted, because the bird landed sideways. Hope to get a good shot next year. We didn’t sit there long, may be some 40 minutes. I just love to watch them, I didn’t shoot much this time. I speak to them too. It is easy, because they are just a few feet away. A different world. xxxxxx

      1. A different world, indeed. I do so love these shots, and your ability to sit and speak with them. Someday, maybe I could experience that wonder. 🙂

  6. I could lose myself in your beautiful posts, Inese, and frequently do! Your photos alone tell us so much about the lifestyles and habits of these incredible birds, and your commentary is superb. Those first few photos are hilarious. The body language says it all – as you so rightly say. It’s funny how so many people associate gannets with greed and the name is often used to describe a greedy person, as in ‘She’s a real gannet when it comes to chocolate!’ (or such like. I just made that sentence up). 🙂 I do hope the smaller colony this year isn’t a sign of things to come. We hear of of falling numbers and species depletion far too often nowadays.
    Now I’m waiting ‘on top line’ to read another of your wonderful posts on Saltee Island….

    1. Thank you so much, Millie! I too hope that everything is all right with the gannet colony. I have an idea why they are called greedy. Sometimes the gannets eat so much fish that they are not able to take off from the surface of water, and have to stay there until they digest the food 🙂

      1. Ha ha! Oh dear … that is being really greedy! Although, with wild animals, it’s often a case of eating while the food is available. I’ll be interested to see (from your posts, I mean 🙂 ) what size the gannet colony is next year.

        1. I compared three pictures, it is when I noticed that there is a bigger space between the nests and the path this year. All these birds, including the gannets, stick to the same nesting spots. I wonder, may be it is us photographers who annoyed them so that they moved to the sub-colony… I hope so. But I was glad to see a European shag family in their usual place, and also some of the puffins.

          1. Let’s hope you’re right about the nests being made elsewhere on the island. I can understand that too many photographers would alarm the bird colonies. Saltee Island sounds like a haven for sea birds. Puffins, gannets and shags as well! I’m guessing we’ll hear of still more next week… 😃

  7. Loved your Gannet pix – Wow! These birds are fabulous! I loved the one with the male who had all the seaweed and sticks in his mouth and his spouse sort of ignoring him. What a riot! Great blog!

  8. Thank you for posting such fabulous photos, Inese. Gannets are such entertaining birds. I love the expressions that you captured on their faces. As for the dancing ‘Romeo’ ……….hilarious. 😉

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