I recently visited the Sebastian Inlet to photograph Northern Gannets. My first visit of the week was on Monday, Feb 7th. It was such a great trip that I went back last Thursday with my good friend Joel. Those two trips were one of the most productive sessions I have ever experienced.
We went to the Sebastian Inlet State Park north jetty and also the cove on the northwest side of the inlet bridge. The birds were absolutely fabulous!
The image above is of a mature Northern Gannet flying past the end of the jetty. For those of you not familiar with the area, the north jetty is built to have a railed fishing platform over the top of the jetty rocks. It extends a good way out. The wind was out of the north which is the way this bird was flying. The wind on Thursday was blowing steadily at least 20mph. It hit us as soon as we cleared the sand dunes.
The image above is a juvenile Northern Gannet. It was flying close to the end of the jetty as it looked for small fish. Northern Gannets are ocean-going birds. They breed and nest in areas of the North Atlantic. The closest to us that I am aware of is the Canadian maritime provinces. They migrate to our area during the winter months. Up until now, I haven’t had close-up, land-based photography opportunities. I have photographed some from the Jetty Park Pier but they have been at a distance.
Here a juvenile Northern Gannet is taking flight from the ocean. It had made a dive for a fish and was headed back up to try again.
The cove area on the other side of the bridge offered photographic opportunities of Black Skimmers, terns, Ruddy Turnstones, and gulls. The cove area was protected from the wind.
A Black Skimmer was working its way back toward the shoreline. The Black Skimmer images are the best I have ever taken. I’ll include more in future posts. The cove area has a small beach around the whole thing. It has picnic tables about halfway down to the water. I was sitting at a picnic table when I took this image as the Skimmer was coming almost directly at me!
Not to be outdone, the Ruddy Turnstones were active too. This was the first image I have taken of one where it was landing. Usually, they are seen scurrying around on the beach or a pier. They are very quick and flighty. This one flew towards me so I was able to pick it up on its approach to the shoreline.