Soaring into the new year

Three factors have led to this post.  The first is a memory search, that has been going on in my mind for some time now, to present another few images that help to convey my enthusiastic optimism as this new year starts unfolding.  The second is my excitement at the prospect of my travel back to New Zealand in just four days.  The third is an inspiring image posted yesterday [here] by my talented friend Adrian (aka the FATman) of young gulls having taken sudden flight.  Adrian’s gulls immediately brought back to mind my delight on the occasions when I’ve been able to spend some unforgettable time observing some of my very favorite seabirds, the gannets (they belong to the genus Morus and the family Sulidae).  I’ve watched them from watercraft a few times, but nothing in my experience can compare with the vantage point that’s available near the community of Muriwai, about an hour’s drive and a short hike northwest of Auckland, New Zealand.  The action of the hungry sea has mostly separated a section of the cliff from the mainland, and a permanent gannet colony resides there, some on the flat-topped rocky stack and the rest on the adjacent grassy and sandy, sloping land.  The path along the cliff’s edge leads to a wonderful overlook platform, which you can just glimpse at the far left in my first image.

Muriwai stack 4175

My first visit to this magical spot, when my fascination with gannets was kindled,  was on April 13, 1996.   I was using a film camera then, and I shot 33 frames, trying to catch one silhouetted against the fading light of the late afternoon.  One of these was successful.

Gannet, Muriwai 24-B-12
I feel very privileged to have had several opportunities to return to what has become my favorite of the 50 countries that I’ve visited so far and, whenever possible, I try to arrange another excursion to Muriwai. I invariably feel a thrill of exhilaration as I watch these lovely and magnificent birds riding the gusty winds that swirl around the craggy outcrops so elegantly and (apparently) effortlessly—truly the stuff of dreams.

Gannets, Muriwai 1382

Gannets, Muriwai 4198

Gannet, Muriwai 1378

Gannet, Muriwai 4234

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About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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27 Responses to Soaring into the new year

  1. victoriaaphotography says:

    As I have a liking for seagulls (being one of the few birds I can photograph on beaches near me), I’ve written details of your favourite NZ spot Muriwai down in my diary. If I ever get to NZ, I will ensure I visit this place – sounds just the place for me.
    In the meantime, I’ll look forward to your own wonderful Gannet images.
    That B & W image is very striking.

    • krikitarts says:

      When you do go (and you must!), it’s also a great place for a picnic. If there’s a chance for a bit of rain in the forecast, take a good waterproof jacket with hood. When the weather is up, it can be something of a challenge–yet well worth it in (almost) any weather!

  2. You have visited 50 countries?!?! You are one very lucky man!! These photos are all amazing and what an incredibly beautiful place, but my favourite is the last photo. I almost feel like I am flying with him :).

    • krikitarts says:

      Ah, Cindy, I love this one too. And yes, I am very lucky to have had a job that led me to many wonderful, exotic destinations (and a number of others that I still try to forget). One of the only things I regret about being retired is the travel. But I’m still planning lots more!

  3. Absolutely splendid, all! A wonderful and inspiring post, Gary!

  4. krikitarts says:

    I’m delighted that you find it so, Melanie! I hope it encourages other NZ travelers to include this place in their plans. I can’t imagine any visitor not feeling enriched by the experience.

  5. skuk2 says:

    Some really great images there Gary, especially like the fourth with the bird hovering over the others on the ground. Trips to this viewing spot must be quite magical.

    Hope you have a great trip back to NZ.

    • krikitarts says:

      You’re so right, Steve, and each time it’s different–the many moods of the sea, wind and cloud conditions, time of day–it’s always worth a visit and there are always surprises.

  6. Optimism or perhaps hope is what is needed in this world today where so much is good, and yet still is so much is bad for many. Like your Gannets…. hope travels the world (soon Gannets will be back to bread along our northern coast and islands of the U.K). Where ever you see them they are mesmerizing, magical and yet so powerfully beautiful. Lovely images once again.

    • krikitarts says:

      They really are powerful and mesmerizing, and so beautiful in the air. I really like your allusion to hope and optimism, too, as they both are a part of who I am as well.

  7. Finn Holding says:

    What a fantastic place, and terrific gannet shots too. I’ve spent many hours at various locations around the UK watching gannets in the air and diving into the sea. It’s a magnificent sight when one of these beautiful and charismatic birds fold back their wings and plummet into the sea at high speed and resurface with a silver fish speared on its beak. I love it!

    I’ll be heading up north in February to a place which is home to many gannets (RSPB Bempton Cliffs) so all being well we can compare gannet pictures when you’re back from NZ. Have a great trip Gary, I’m sure you will :-)

  8. krikitarts says:

    I just made an e-excursion to Bempton Cliffs with Google Earth and read up on it a bit, and it looks like a really wonderful place. I hope your weather is ideal and the gannets are plentiful and cooperative for you!

  9. Meanderer says:

    Love the fourth image. Really quite unusual.

  10. krikitarts says:

    Thanks so much–it’s among my favorites, too.

  11. seekraz says:

    Incredible images, Gary, I especially admire the one of the silhouette from 1996…so pretty. And I guess you’re over there right now, too, as I type these words. I hope you’re having a wonderful time…will look forward to seeing the little treasures you bring home with you….

  12. krikitarts says:

    You’re right, Scott–it’s great to be back here. Mostly family stuff so far, but hope to get in a bush hike or two in the next couple of days, and I’ll try to find time to get a new post up. There probably won’t be very many over the course of the next month or so, but I’ll try!

  13. Jeff Sinon says:

    Great shots Gary, you really captured that last one perfectly. Like Cindy mentioned, it’s almost like you’re flying with him/her.

  14. Adrian Lewis says:

    Excellent pics, Gary >>> and thanks very much for the plug, I’d never realised you’d done that! The bottom picture here is a wonderful study – but my favourite has to be the mono image – wow that rakish silhouette against the dark sea and powerful sky – it moves the heart strings! Adrian

    • krikitarts says:

      You’re welcome–I thought I’d alerted you to the link; sorry! I remember so well that first introduction to the scope and magic of the Muriwai colony. I was pretty sure you’d like the mono image especially, and am delighted to hear that you do. Thanks, Adrian!

  15. I recognize those rocks, all right. You did an excellent job of catching some of the gannets in flight, which is hard to do.

  16. Pingback: Australasian gannet | Portraits of Wildflowers

  17. shoreacres says:

    The black and white image is so striking. While the birds have different profiles in the air, the photo reminds me of the first time I saw a frigatebird while offshore. There’s nothing like the pelagic birds — mysterious and beautiful at once. The last photo’s delightful, too. It’s quite an unusual combination of brown and blue, which I always enjoy.

    • krikitarts says:

      Thank you so much for your comment and for delving so far back into my archives. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing frigatebirds, but I’ve made several visits to the colony of wandering albatross on Taiaroa Head near Dunedin (also in New Zealand). Nice to see you here!

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