After receiving my copy of Canadian Geographic Best of Birds 2015 and seeing my image on the back cover I just knew I had to make a trip out to see the Gannets again to start the spring season off…
So Saturday morning I was up at 2:00 am preparing for my trip to Cape St Mary’s with my good buddy Brendan Kelly. He arrived at my place at 2:45 am and with our much needed coffees in hand we were off on our 2 hour drive by 3:00 am. Heading down Salmonier Line in the dark you better have some strong coffee in you as your eyes need to be wide open for Moose. Sure enough we spotted one only mins down the road having an early breakfast.
We arrived at the interpretation center by 5:15 am and enjoyed up close looks at 4 horned larks feeding along the parking lot from the car. With the lack of sunrise(thanks Weather Network for another accurate weather reading lol) it was impossible to get any decent images of the larks so we packed up our gear and headed down to Bird Rock. At first we were a little worried as we never say one Gannet in the air from the parking lot which normally by this time of year you see them all around…as we reached the coastline along the trail to the colony we could see the white dots scattered all over Bird Rock…it was a pleasant sight. As you make the decent down to the Sea Stack the sound of the sea birds gets louder and louder and it’s like music to my ears.
Photography at Bird Rock presents an interesting challenge I find. It’s not like most other wildlife photography that I do in the sense that here the birds are plentiful (thousands of them) and I don’t have to go looking for them. What becomes a challenge here is finding that interesting composition; isolating one individual from all the rest or photographing a pair as they interact.
Brendan and I started the morning off by trying to capture some interesting poses as the Gannets approached Bird Rock looking for a place to land. This is the best time to capture in flights in my opinion as you often capture interesting/coward poses as they try to squeeze in amongst the rest of the Gannets without landing on their heads.
This session was very short lived as the winds shifted to the East forcing the Gannets to change their approach angle and now had them flying into Bird Rock back on to us. Even though it was a short session I was happy with the shots I captured.
From there it was time to shirt my attention to some intimate shots. Here I noticed this one individual sitting on what I thought was a perfect nest. It’s not often you get to isolate an individual on a nest like this and for the nest to look so well made.
It seems over the past few years the birds have been moving further up the right side of the cliff. With my teleconvertor on giving me 700 mm I’m now able to capture some intimate moments.
With all this nest building and courtship it’s always good to stretch.
While focusing in on this one individual it did something very unusual. It bent over and picked up this rock and seemed very proud that it did; stretching out its neck
When we had arrived at Bird Rock we were disappointed to see the lack of other sea birds on the cliffs like Kittiwake and Murres. As the morning progressed our luck changed as the Kittiwakes made a move for the cliffs. It’s always entertaining to watch them claim their position.
These little birds are fast and trying to capture them in flight is a challenge. The best opportunities I find are when they make attempt after attempt to approach the cliffs. Hundreds of feet below you they make tight circles around and around trying to find that perfect landing spot. This allows you to track them and nail that perfect dorsal flight shot.
With some great images bagged Brendan and I decided it was time for some fun with his GoPro and capture this unique selfie…
We had a little lunch and decided to return to shoot but the light had gotten harsh and was now at an angle that was undesirable. So what do you do when the light is harsh..you sit back and enjoy the view.
Or you take a shot of your buddy taking a rest after a hard mornings work
It turned out to be a wonderful morning of shooting and a great way to start off spring (we always like to start spring off late here in Newfoundland)