Looking for a little personal space


Gannet colony; Muriwai New Zealand. Su Leslie 2017

“The crowd intimidates me, its breath suffocates me. I feel paralysed by its curious look, and the unknown faces make me dumb.” — Frederic Chopin

I suspect that if there is, somewhere, a photo of me in a crowd, I would be the embodiment of Chopin’s words. As far as I know, there isn’t.

But I wonder; could introversion ever be a character trait in gannets?

Given their highly communal breeding and chick-rearing habits, it’s not a trait that I’d wish on them.

In response to Debbie’s Quotation-inspired challenge at Travel with Intent

Seeing double

photographer hosier lane

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams.  Image: Su Leslie 2019

Some things feel like they should always come in twos — like biscuits, and scoops of ice-cream. Though with (regular) hindsight, maybe having two eyes but only one stomach is a problem.

two macaronplumes dessert

Apparently, one of the earliest versions of  the saying “two’s company, three’s a crowd” dates back to 1678. John Ray wrote in his collection English Proverbs “One’s too few, three too many.”

One becomes two: shadows and reflections.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | seeing double

Flying high

img_4523 Paraglider with backing group of gannets; Muriwai Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

I’m not great with heights (or danger), so while part of me would love to experience the world the way that flying birds do, I don’t think I’ll be signing up for any of the adventure sports that involve hurling myself off a cliff with some ropes and a big hankie to keep me safe.

Posted to One Word Sunday | aerial



Gannets, Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Despite an abundance of native birds (mainly tui, kereru and fantails) nesting around my neighbourhood, I’m generally not great at capturing photos of them.

The gannet colony at Muriwai is another story though. With many thousands of birds nesting on the cliffs, it’s inevitable that some will build their nests close to the walkway. They seem very relaxed about the hordes of humans who come to gawk at them, though I suspect that’s mainly because we flightless ones seem reasonably capable of staying behind the fence.

Breeding season has begun again for the gannets, and I will undoubtedly spend some early mornings clutching my camera and enjoying the sight of these majestic birds.

And I’m overdue for another visit to the wonderful Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust, which does such great work helping to ensure the survival of New Zealand’s native birds of prey. Hisan, the juvenile karearea, or falcon, shown above was photographed almost two years ago and will have flown off from his perch one day and not returned. Hopefully to make a home, and breed, somewhere in the forests nearby.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Promt | bird



DP Photo Challenge: friend, take 2

The Big T and I spent quite a lot of time this last summer at the Muriwai gannet colony.  Although these gannets don’t necessarily mate for life, breeding pairs do share incubation and chick-care duties.

Watching the interactions between these magnificent birds, it is hard not to project human friendship traits onto their behaviour.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | friend.

DP Photo Challenge: Anticipation, take 1

Gannet guarding an egg. Seen a few weeks ago at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Gannet guarding an egg. Seen at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, October 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

During the last couple of months, the Big T and I have made a few trips out to the Muriwai gannet colony to watch these amazing birds during their nesting season.

We’ve just made our first visit in a few weeks; anticipating the arrival of chicks. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, it seems that most probably hatched not long after our last visit.

All over the cliff-faces there are adult gannets jostling for space in their shallow nests with fast-growing off-spring. Some seem to be nearly as large as their parents, but are still covered in gorgeous white down.

Adult gannet with chick. Seen at Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Adult gannet with chick. Seen December 2016 at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The chicks are born bald, and develop their white down over a period of about a month. This is replaced over following weeks with distinctive, speckled, plumage. After about four months in the nest, they take off — flying to the east coast of Australia where they remain for several years before attempting the flight back to the colony to find a mate and breed. It’s estimated that even in a good year, only about 25 percent of the birds return safely to New Zealand (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Gannets: Life History and Feeding)

This post is a contribution to the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is anticipation.