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"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." ~C. Columbus




I just returned from a quick trip down to Cape Cod. We were hoping to spot some Right Whales as they are on their migration journey northward. And while we didn't spot any whales, I was reminded of these beautiful sea birds we spotted at the same beach two years ago at this time.


Yes, Spring is migration season and while most of us tend to think of the colorful little warblers that are migrating right now, these Northern Gannets are also heading back north to their breeding grounds. Northern Gannets are North America's second largest sea bird, and In North America, there are only six well established breeding colonies (off the coast of Newfoundland) and these birds have been known to return to the same breeding sites for hundreds of years. The largest colonies contain tens of thousands of nests!


Most of us won't ever be fortunate enough to see a Northern Gannet because they spend most of their lives at sea, away from the immediate coast and over deeper waters. However, during migration (typically from late March to mid-April in the New England area) there is a potential to see Gannets a bit closer to shore. On this particular day we saw adults as well as juveniles soaring above the ocean waves. They would usually come in groups of three or four - coming in high and then slowly arcing down toward the ocean. It seemed as if they were going to crash into the waves but then they'd pull up and begin a slow climb upward again. These birds are fast and powerful flyers, but can also glide for hours just above the waves, barely flapping their wings.


What an amazing treat it was to see these graceful birds do this magnificent sea-dance.


Northern Gannet Off of Herring Cove Beach Provincetown, MA May 2017

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5 comentários


leighscottphotography
leighscottphotography
23 de jul. de 2019

Hi Janice! Yes, these birds are really quite stunning....but they are more Seabirds than anything - so even down on the Cape it is kind of a rarity to see one so up close and personal. But you never know...birds can pop up in the strangest of places. As they say..."You never know what the wind will blow in." If I ever hear of one nearby, I will try to remember to let you know. As for the new birds in your yard....wow! Not just new birds, but FUN new birds! I've never really been able to attract anything out of the ordinary, although I did have a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at my feeders for 2 days last year...and …

Curtir

Janice MacHugh
Janice MacHugh
23 de jul. de 2019

This bird came as a complete surprise to me-so handsome, with beautiful markings. I have never seen one but surely would like to, of course I lived on the Cape for 15 years and wasn’t lucky enough but maybe the north shore will bring me a chance. I’ve been extremely fortunate with new birds to watch (2 oriole couples who stayed long enough to have babies) also redbreasted grosbeaks and bluebirds❣️

Curtir

Membro desconhecido
01 de mai. de 2019

I can imagine how mesmerizing it must have been... The flight pattern is amazing, so beautiful ! And the sound of waves... :-)

Curtir

lscott20
lscott20
01 de mai. de 2019

Thanks, Anne! It truly was a sight to see - they are normally so far off in the distance. I wish I had taken a video of their flight pattern. Watching them glide up and down was mesmerizing. Add into that the sound of the ocean waves and it was hypnotic!!

Curtir

Membro desconhecido
01 de mai. de 2019

Beautiful photos, I like them both. The one with the 3 Northern Gannets hovering over the ocean is wonderful : it's amazing to see the various shapes of their wings in flight, and the various colors of their feathers. Thank you for the information about these birds :-).

Curtir
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