Mystery Bird: Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus

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[Mystery bird] Northern Gannet, also known by a suite of common names, including solan, solan goose and the solant bird, Morus bassanus (formerly; Sula bassana), photographed from the Channel ferry near Calais, France. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Adrian White [larger view].

Nikon D40x with Tamron 70-300AF.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

This mystery seabird, photographed in France, has a special character that allows it to make a living in its own remarkable way. Can you tell me more about this bird's lifestyle and the character that makes it possible?

Gannets dive for fish from a height 25m or more and may reach 100km/h when they hit the water. The impact is cushioned by an extensive network of air-sacs between the muscles and skin of these birds.

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One of my favourite birds. Wonderful to watch.
Easy to identify, based on the beautifully sleek shape, yellow head and black wing tips.
I had to look up the adaptations, but I correctly guessed what they related to.
I always look forward to watching these when I'm travelling by ferry.

Adrian, what a GREAT shot!

Is this one of those northern sea birds that has a special nostril adaptation? (There's one in Europe, I think?)

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!).

--Julian Date (1989)

Lovely shot, Adrian! Not a bird I've seen in life, though I have seen 3 of its smaller relatives; but an easy one to ID. I'm figuring the internal bubble-pack inside its head would adapt it well to its lifestyle.

By Pete Moulton (not verified) on 14 Jun 2010 #permalink

Perhaps Julian Date (quoted by Richard above) was somehow related to the one whom WE quote: "whose beak holds more than its belly can." Almost three times as much!