Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Gannets at Muriwai - day trip from Auckland

The gannet is a beautiful bird, snowy white, with black-tipped wings, yellow head, blue eyes.

 I often see one or two from my window, gliding, beak pointed downwards eyeing the sea below. If I watch long enough I'll see the bird suddenly dive at startling speeds.

These impressive birds feature on the first pages of Under the Ocean, where Ned has illustrated them at all stages of their diving.

They don't nest around here, but I've seen them nesting near Cape Kidnappers, we walked for a few hours along the beach to see them, leaving as the tide was going out and returning before it came back in again.

Now I've seen them, smelt them, heard them, in large numbers at Muriwai Beach.

I had no idea how close we'd be able to get to them, or how impressive the birds would be in large numbers. We spent hours watching them. 

Here's a photo from one of the lookouts, in the top left hand corner of the photo you can just see the lookout where I took the video from. This photo shows how close we were and gives an idea, perhaps of the size of the colony.

The birds had all secured a nest site but not yet laid any eggs. It was amazing to see how the nests were all the same distance from each other, there was not a scrap of wasted space.

The Auckland Regional Council website has information about how to get there, it's just 45km north of Auckland. The walk to the colony is called the Takapu Refuge Walk and is described as being 30 minutes long, but you'll want to spend more than 30 minutes there.

The Maori name for the Australasian gannet is Takapu. You can find out more about Australasian gannets on NZ Birds Online.