Until I visited Pacific Gove a few weeks ago, I had never seen a Black Turnstone. Black Turnstones are Pacific Coast birds. Their dark feathers allow them to blend in perfectly with the dark granite rocks that line the shore.
The rocks, cliffs, and air were filled with thirty to forty thousand Northern Gannets at Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland last week. It is one of the largest seabird colonies in North America. We stood on a narrow ridge that jutted out toward Bird Rock to photograph the birds. Occasionally, one, like this one, flew close enough to completely fill the frame, as it jostled into position so it could squeeze itself into its tiny space on the rock.
Northern Gannets nest on rocky ledges in dense colonies. They raise one chick per season and both parents feed the offspring. They feed their young by regurgitating fish as the young gannet thrusts its beak deep into the parent’s beak. The young make their first flight after about 90 days and grow to be larger than their parents when they first fly. This chick isn’t ready to fly yet. It is still partially covered in down.
With tens of thousands of Northern Gannets nesting on and around Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Preserve in Newfoundland, space is at a premium. Birds coming in to land often have to hover while they assess the lay of the land, so to speak, and try to find their mate.. They are not graceful at landing and their landings often seemed like semi-controlled crashes. This Northern Gannet hovers above the mass of birds beneath it before attempting a landing.
Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF.
When we were in Newfoundland last week, My friend Eric took an exceptional photograph of a Northern Gannet in flight with the Cape St. Mary’s Lighthouse in the background. When I saw it, I knew it was a shot I wanted. None of the rest of us had taken that shot. During the last two days, we all worked at getting it. And, to make things more interesting, our challenge was not only to get the shot but to get the shot with the light from the lighthouse on! In the end, I managed to get a few flying gannets in front of the lighthouse. Only one had the light from the lighthouse on.
Threatening clouds approached quickly Thursday afternoon as we stood photographing Northen Gannets on Bird Rock at the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Preserve. The light disappeared and we set off for the mile walk back to the vehicle. Rain dropped briefly on the walk back. After an early dinner, a beautiful rainbow appeared across the fields then hail pelted down as we retreated to our rooms. But, shortly after the hail stopped, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset. Our rooms at the Bird Island Resort face the Atlantic Ocean. As a resident of the Pacific Coast, I think of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, sunrise over the Atlantic. Since we’re on a spit of land that juts from Newfoundland and is surrounded on three sides by the ocean we got to enjoy an Atlantic sunset. I definitely have a room with a view. I took this shot by walking out my door and a few feet across the lawn to the fenced edge of the property which drops precipitously to the water.
When we arrived at the viewing area for Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve on Thursday, this Northern Gannet was perched on a rock at the tip of the point directly across from Bird Rock preening. The Northern Gannets only occasionally landed near us on this rock. This particular side of the cliff is not a nesting site for some reason. We approached slowly, one by one and were able to photograph the gannet for just a few minutes before it lifted is wings and was gone.
Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF Lens.
Cape St. Mary’s on the southwest tip of Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada is home to Bird Rock one of three breeding colonies of Northern Gannets in Newfoundland. Northern Gannets are the largest seabirds in the Atlantic Ocean. They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave Bird Rock. This time of year, they are the only seabirds remaining at Bird Rock and there are about 15,000 pairs here, as well their chicks. In October, near the end of the breeding season, chicks are strengthening their wings and are beginning to fly off where they will learn on their own how to survive. Adults are monogamous and mate for life. They are apart for six months of the year. In March, they return to Bird Rock, find the same nesting spot, and find each other. It is a mystery how they do this. Mated pairs greet each other with various displays such as this one.
Meet Aubrey. Aubrey is a Lionhead Rabbit. Her white mane swirls around her face, much of the time obscuring her eyes and gathering dust and dirt from her surroundings. She had just cleaned off her face when I took this photograph. A few minutes before, her white mane was covered with dirt from the daisies she was investigating. She loved to scratch on the Scottish moss I brought for her to sit on during the photo shoot and the daisies were a treat to nibble. Aubrey belongs to my friend Carly’s friend, Taelor.
I just got a new Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera and this was my first opportunity to use the new camera. It performed flawlessly. I used my F mount 105mm f/1.4 lens and the FTZ adaptor so I could use it on the Z6. I was uncertain I would embrace mirrorless cameras but I have. Besides their small size, these new Nikon mirrorless cameras allow one to quickly modify settings in the camera without taking the eye away from the viewfinder. That is a huge advantage. The Z6 is my second mirrorless camera. I also have a Nikon Z7. The Z6 has a lower resolution than the Z7 and is less expensive but with few exceptions it is almost identical and has most of the features of the Z7. I’m not relinquishing my DSLR, the Nikon D5, which is my main camera body but I love the Z’s!
This Desert Bighorn Sheep was one of the biggest rams in the band of about 90 sheep we watched for a few days in the Great Basin in Nevada. His large, heavy horns show years of wear and tear. A chunk on one of his horns is missing and the tips of the horns are broken off. The damage is likely the result of clashes with other rams over dominance and choice of ewes in the group. We were able to get fairly close to the band without disturbing them as long as we stayed in or behind the vehicle. I shot this big ram from the vehicle using my Nikon D5 and Nikkor 500mm PF lens.