Gannets! Lots of them!

I've recently returned from a long weekend on the North Yorkshire coast—or Peter McGrath Country, as I now can't help thinking of it. While I was there, I managed to visit the RSPB's Bempton Cliffs reserve, and get some pretty cool photos (if I do say so myself) of some of its 200,000 nesting seabirds, especially gannets:

Gannet (Morus bassanus ) coming in to land on its cliff-side nest.

Gannets—or northern gannets, as we are supposed to refer to them in this international age—are amazing birds. They fish by plunging into the sea from a great height: a truly unforgettable sight. Because of their unusual feeding technique, they have evolved a special form of shock-absorber in their heads, and do not have nostrils.

The great man of letters J. Date was once moved to poetry over gannets. I quote in full with his permission:


My favourite bird's the gannet:
It's the best bird on the planet.
It's better than knots
And guillemots
And beats razorbills by lots and lots.

Yes, my favourite bird's the gannet:
It just can't be beaten, can it?
It hatches on ledges,
Where it stays till it fledges
And grows a physique
With a fabulous beak.
Then it takes to the air
And soars way up there,
Till it reaches a summit,
Whence it dives in a plummet
And down with a S W I S H !
It catches a fish.

Yes, my favourite bird's the gannet
(Apart from my girlfriend, Janet!).

Stirring words, I'm sure you'll agree.

See also: My Bempton Cliffs photos

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

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