Photo of the Day — Cliff Stack Couple

© 2012 Mark Meredith

At Muriwai, on Auckland’s rugged west coast, you can visit the world’s most accessible gannet colony. We’ve been there many times. Gannets are extraordinary birds, dressed in a beautiful, sleek plumage, noisy, rude and argumentative, yet graceful and skillful in the air; true arial acrobats. You can see these arial aerobics close-up as observation decks built just above the cliffside colony allow wonderful views of the birds plunging into the ocean and balancing and breaking in the air before landing on ledges and rocky stacks. The 1,200 pairs of gannets breed between September and March before heading off to Australia, though some stay behind to keep the resident fur seals company. The chicks hatch in October and this is the best time to visit as the colony launches into a frantic overdrive of flying and feeding their demanding offspring. The site of the colony at Otakamiro Point is spectacular and best viewed from Maori Bay beach at low tide, as was the case when this photograph was taken. From the beach the scale of the surrounding cliffs and stacks is overwhelming. I was lucky with this shot as a parent and child happened to be standing at the confluence of the cliff and cliff stack, like two tiny figures in the bottom of a giant hourglass.


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