Gannets have been spotted all along the east coast of Australia.
They are magnificent birds of the ocean.
We don't get to see them all the time, but now and then we are fortunate to see them along our coast. And fortunately, that has been the case this year.
We do not have breeding colonies in Australia, but I'm reliably informed that the birds along our coast at present are from the breeding colony in Cape Kidnappers, near Napier, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.
They are amazing birds to watch diving.
As they are about to hit the water they fold their wings close to their sides and actually look like long sticks thrusting into the ocean.
I was lucky to get close to this action and I realise the images of them breaking the surface don't make a good picture, but they sure have impact.
Gannets can dive to considerable depth, and I also noticed that they swallow the fish head first before they lift off the water.
One of the images I captured was of the gannet immediately after it had resurfaced with a small fish. It quickly tossed the small fish into the air before swallowing it all in one move.
Unfortunately gannets can be hard to get close to as they move up and down the feeding areas continually. They don't stay still, so patience is a virtue.
They have been turning up quite often at Stockton Bite and at Nelson Bay.
Gannets breed in noisy colonies, usually on islands or artificial structures, such as beacons.
The male and female are difficult to tell apart.
Australasian Gannets are expert fishermen.
Birds will soar 10 metres or more above the surface of the water, herding fish into dense shoals.
It is then that they will fold their wings back and dive into the water to catch their prey.
In this regard they small backward-pointing serrations along the edges of the bill which helps them hold the fish. A bird only stays under the water for about ten seconds or so.