1 February 2016

morus bassanus mort

morus bassanus, mort
My favourite 'white' seabird, if I had to have just one, is the northern gannet. Beautiful, elegant, fearsome. Not often seen from the land except on the stormier days, but sometimes can be spotted flying low over the waves round the tip of a headland or in a gang, plundering a fish shoal in a tidal estuary.

So it's sad to find the remains of one on the shoreline. This one was only a little above the low water mark so would soon be washed away again as casually as it was brought in. Despite the affects of the sea and decomposition, it struck me that the way this bird was deposited on the sand was a sombre reflection of the nature of this fish eater with overtones of some sort of fossil remain in the making.

The distinguished french photographer Lucien Clergue used to take photographs of bird carcasses he found when he was making his pictures in the Camargue. I gradually came to admire the way those images (often of pelicans) seem to confirm so much about being alive and about the spirit of the casualty before death.

From time to time I have found and recorded shoreline remains which seem lyrical, like this one, a fleeting final ending . . .  a ghost bird, seemingly still in flight. It was reclaimed by the sea within minutes . . .