Moments: Free-for-All

It’s been a bit quiet for us of late. Too cold, too blowy, lack of birds. And hot chocolate at home…Yum!

We had been at Point Cook Coastal Park a couple of weeks back. Looking for Flame Robins—not too many, unfortunately—and EE’s Sea Eagle, (hers by virtue of she saw it first, not that any would be surprised).

By the time we had arrived there was a pretty stiff Southerly breeze at work, making walking challenging for EE and Dolly. However we found a sheltered spot at the beach, and opted for a cuppa and snack, and while we sat contemplating no Sea Eagle, Robins, nor Cormorants, (somewhat in that order of importance), a large mixed flock of sea birds arrived just about in front of us.

No doubt a school of fish was running along the edge of the sandbank a few hundred metres out.  Outstanding among them was 25-30 Australasian Gannets.  It’s really only on a Southerly that we see these birds in so close, so it was a bit of a treat to watch their controlled dives. A large number of seagulls and cormorants were also along for the feast and quite a few Greater Crested Terns.

Unfortunately for photography, they were just that little too far out, and mostly swung round into the breeze for lift off, which meant very few close passes.  As it happened, however, I had packed in the Teleconverter, TC 1.4, so it gave me a little more reach with the 500mm.

Still for all that,  all these images are huge crops from the D500.  But it does reinforce what I’ve said previously about the lens.  It does focus well, beyond the somewhat limited 30m or so of the cheaper tele/zooms.

Eventually the fish moved further out and up the bay, so we settled back to our now cold cuppas and enjoyed the action from a distance.

Made up for the lack of other special guests that day.

They seem to roll over, then correct and plunge straight down
No doubting where the target is.
Starting to fold up all the hardware
And down it goes.  Interesting to see the Pied Cormant appearing in the sequence


Another of the roll over actions
All tucked up for a smooth entry
A juvenile. When you consider it’s actually upside down as it comes out of the roll over, their body flexibility is awesome.

12 thoughts on “Moments: Free-for-All

  1. Wonderful series of action shots David. That lens is, as they say, “awesome”! The operator isn’t too bad either I suspect.

    Thanks for sharing the excitement. I can well imagine that the tea got cold.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well shot, David. Lovely to see the Gannets at work. The lens works well, but the most important component is the hands and brain that are operating the camera! Sure has been miserable weather for birding, I had to take shelter from the hail on Saturday! Stay warm n dry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello David,
      I think the best we’ve ever seen them was along the foreshore at Werribee South, such a strong onshore wind.
      I’m also still trying to beat of the lurgy, so not travelling about at the moment.


  3. Great images irrespective of the prevailing conditions. I have seen the gannets roll over before they dive, is obviously their preferred method. Also, considering the distance offshore they are from you, the results are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rodger,

      For what they are, I was pretty happy with the results. Never going to get the detail shot, and the moment into the water always seemed to have a wave breaking in front.
      Interesting to see the precision that happens once they lock on a target.
      All good.


  4. You have caught most of the action, David. Your skills made the most of the super-gear and let us share this great experience with you. I’ve never seen the Gannets fishing from so close so thank you for this post. I suppose the weather can only improve from now on 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam, first time in over 10 years out there that I’ve seen them working so close in. Had the odd flyby on the beach, but not this level of activity. Felt pretty special.


  5. The Gannets were your gift for the day, despite not seeing the other birds, and what a treat to watch them dive so close to shore. I only see them far out at sea but have recently seen several juveniles when up the north coast NSW cruising and diving the ocean out behind the breakers. The are so like Terns when they dive, it is just amazing that they dive from so high but I am told this is to give them depth! Not sure they actually sight a fish or is it pot luck? These birds certainly are master divers, with their special breathing system so they don’t get water up their nostrils.
    Great shots of a seldom seen bird for us. It was good to at least see something different in such cold weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI AB,yep, important point. The fish are not necessarily on the surface and they can swim underwater to catch, if necessary. I’d be guessing in this case, because of the size of the shoal, it was more likely aim for the black point where they were mostly congregated, and sort it out underwater.
      We don’t see them inshore here often as its right up the top end of the bay, but I guess it all depends on the fish movement.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Totally amazing to see that dart-like streamlined rocket. Fearless. Hard to imagine how they could have a specific fish in their sites; maybe they really do! Thanks for catching the moments so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Derek, I think, from what I’ve read, and seen on the docos, that they need the speed to get underwater, and then have the ability to grab the fish as they pass. Fascinating really


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