Mates Forever

September 20, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Mates ForeverMates Forever



Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve is located on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada.  It is the most accessible seabird rookery in North America. Bird Rock hosts the third-largest nesting site and southernmost colony of northern gannets in North America. The site is overflowing with perching, diving, and scrambling birds from edge to edge.


Assuming you are savvy enough to carry only the photo gear you will need, the 1 km hike from the Interpretation Center to the edge of the cliff where you can view, but not access, Bird Rock some 30-40 feet away is a relatively easy climb.  Bring very piece of gear you own and it could feel like the hike never ends.


Gannets nest on Bird Rock here by the thousands in the months of April through June.  They seem to really like Bird Rock, a 300+ foot tall  sandstone cliff which stands out above the pounding surf in the cold, frigid waters of the North Atlantic.



Gannets spend most of their lives at sea and when they finally return to land, they come back to the same nest — and same mate — every year pointing their heads to the sky, preening each other. 


The affection pretty much ends there as the gannets compete fiercely for both space and food.  The two gannets in the attached photo were surrounded by hundreds of other gannets, but their preening and mating ritual seemed to make them oblivious to the commotion surrounding them.


We barely could hear each other over the crescendo of sound from all the screeching seabirds.  It was almost deafening from the non-stop noise of thousands of gannets squawking.  Not just gannets, but the cliffs also were covered with black-legged kittiwakes, common murres, and other seabirds.




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