Today we walked to the Gannet (takapu) colony just down the road. It's Sunday here in Miriwai and quite a few people had the same idea, but I thought: imagine that. All these people came out to see these handsome birds with a six-foot wing span.
The cliff paths lead to several viewing platforms.
About 1200 pair nest here from August to March.
Close-up of nesting sites, adults in the rear (male and female look alike), fledglings in the foreground.
Is the fledgling below with wings spread making its first take-off? If so, it has a lengthy flight ahead. Once airborne it will fly due west across the Tasman Sea to Australia.
Via NZ Birds online...
Fledglings from New Zealand fly directly to Australia, and typically do not return to their home colonies until their third year. Some New Zealand breeders migrate to Australian and Tasmanian waters to winter between breeding seasons. Australasian gannets often breed with the same partner over consecutive seasons. Some birds retain the same mate for the rest of their lives, but divorces do occur.
There are three primary clusters: at the top of the circular rock at left, directly below, and on the V-shaped rock at right. What is happening in front of that V-shaped rock?
Fishing! Looks slippery--I imagine this activity is tide-dependent.
To the north, surfers dot Muriwai Beach.
Who else lives here?
Fledgling and parent
Each pair lays one egg and the parents take turns on the nest. The chicks hatch naked, but within a week they're covered with fluffy down. As they mature, they grow juvenile feathers and begin to exercise their wings in preparation for the one-shot jump off the cliff.
Off to Oz
On the uphill walk back (Art cursing his beta blockers with every step) we pass this, which kind of makes my stomach drop. Houses are built into the hills here and parking spots are, shall we say, creative.
T'was a most relaxing field trip with the gannets. Until next time...