Gannet watching is one of the treats to being on the water in New Zealand. These birds seem perpetually hungry. They get up to altitude, spot a snack in the water then do a torpedo dive. The impact is clearly heard inside our boat. Sometimes they hunt alone, but usually they are in packs – or is it flocks – of dozens of them.
Going in! They can tuck their over 5 ft wingspan into a pretty narrow package for entry like a spinning iceskater.
And create a small enough splash for a high score in the dive competition.
They are even reasonably graceful on their exit after slurping down some small fish.
After spending some very windy days at Cook’s Bay in Whitiangi we headed out to Great Mercury Island. The island is privately owned by two of the wealthiest people in New Zealand, Michael Fay and David Richwhite.
Just to emphasize the wealthy part, here’s the black helicopter about to land. While the island is private the rules for visitors are very liberal. You can walk anywhere you want on the roads, trails or farmland. You aren’t supposed to go into the forest area.
And you can’t bring on any varmints. These are rat, stote and possum traps-- just in case there are any unwanted hitchhikers in the dinghy. The island has been de-ratted and de-possumed, making a good habitat for the ground-nesting birds.
The farmland is immaculately kept with lots of happy sheep, all named Shaun (as in Shaun the Sheep).
Shaun roams the roads. This is one of the best sites on the island – a clear view of the giant microwave tower between the boulders onthe hillside.
This is one of the shepherds moving her flock.
And the working dogs coming home after a hard day on the job. I assume the senior dog is the one riding on the Quad behind the driver.
Gt Merc has cows too. Not sure what variety, but they look fat and happy.
There’s some nice sandy beaches that rate a walk.
No shortage of giant trees on the island—this is a pohutukawa, also known by the Kiwis as the ‘Christmas tree’ because they are covered with red flowers in December.
Shaunette letting me know I was too close to her grazing grounds.
And boss Shaun telling us it was time to go.
I’ve decided to rigorously follow the US Coast Guard Regulations concerning sailing blogs and limit my political commentary to once a month. That should be all that is needed once the swamp is drained.