Thursday, 30 April 2020

Gannet Colony, Muriwai

In the summer (Dec to Feb) it is possible to see Australasian Gannets on the New Zealand mainland at Muriwai, about an hour from Auckland. The gannet colony is at Otakamiro point, Muriwai, on the west coast of The North Island. The Maori name for them is Takapu pronounced tah-kah-pooh. Every year the Gannets arrive here to breed and raise a chick. Each pair has a single egg which hopefully hatches into a fluffy white chick. We were lucky enough to visit in February when there were a range of chicks from the white fluffy to those malting and almost ready to leave the nest. The coastline is very fragile here and tourists must stick to the paths and board walks provided. The scenery is stunning and being able to get so close to the birds is a real privilege.

Here are some of our photos:-

The birds are really beautiful to watch in flight as they sore on the upward drafts. They are notable for their spectacular fishing style, spotting their pray and then diving, wings folded into the sea from high in the air.

What I cannot do is give you a sense of the smell but if you can imagine a lot of sardines just eaten then that would be about right!

The adult birds are quite large and make a rather risky nose dive to land somewhere near the chick. Often they are then pecked at as they try to get to feed their chick. You will notice that the scrapes/nests are around a pecking distance apart!

This parent has had a late chick, he waits while the other parent fishes. As they get bigger both parents fish leaving the chick to fend for itself.

What a real privilege to be able to see these amazing birds.

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