It Was Raining At The Indian River Inlet Today

This Is Something You Usually Only See While Out In A Boat, Raining Gannets. These Northern Gannets Were working The Indian River Inlet This Morning

I arrived at the south side parking lot at Indian River Inlet about 8 AM this morning, coffee and Surf bagel in hand to await the beach clean up volunteers. There was a wind advisory and roughly twenty plus mile per hour sustained winds, with gusts up to fifty. The inland bays were white capping, I checked them out on the way down at the new road access. The clouds were ripping across the sky.

rehoboth bay, wind advisory, white caps, dewey beach, new road access, inland bays
Rehoboth Bay at New road access white capping in the heavy winds

I looked over at the inlet wall and thought those are some odd shaped sea gulls. Then I realized those are northern gannets, not gulls, and they are diving. There were gulls there, as always, but a couple dozen gannets were in view. I rode over to the parking lot area near the sand relocation crane.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
Part of the northern gannet flock working the north wall of the Indian River Inlet

The gannets were mostly on the north wall end area I was on the south side. Thinking, it figures all the fishing gear is at home, I didn’t bring anything since the truck was stripped for the beach clean up. A few gannets would dive in and come up with fish. Then the flock would go back to riding the wind currents looking for food, until they got to the Charles W Cullen Bridge (Indian River Inlet Bridge). Then swoop back to the front of the wall area and start all over. Some would dive in and pull a fish, others would just glide the air currents in slow motion, hunting. I snapped off some shots from the good camera and took some video on the phone. The beach clean up volunteers would be arriving soon.
Now all I could think of is how do we blow this off and go get some gear? Maybe Andrew will show up with gear and we can use the heavy wind as an excuse to call the beach clean up off?!?! No dice, everyone opted to check the beach and see how it was, and of course, it wasn’t that bad.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
Northern Gannet just floating across the air right in front of me, smile for the camera

I meet everyone on the beach with the chase truck, I had to drive today, I prefer to walk and pick up trash. Mark usually drives he was stuck working, Andrew is late or I would ask him to follow everyone. I notice there are gannets are working the surf, but not diving in just working their way towards the Indian River Inlet. I can’t help but always think that should be called the Indian River Bay Inlet, because well that is the Indian River Bay, but also the river? These are the thoughts you have when you follow the beach clean up crew in a truck on way too much coffee. More gannets are flying by the surf.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
Northern gannets would head back towards the Charles W Cullen bridge then start their hunt all over again

The crew gathers at the end of 3R’s, the pylons are buried. I could have driven all the way to Ocean City today. Well at least Fenwick Island State Park before anyone might notice, or catch me. I cart everyone off the beach, and head back to the Indian River Inlet parking lot. When I look over at the inlet there are now well over fifty gannets, possibly a hundred. They are working the inlet and dropping in one after the other, it is raining gannets. Not the heavy drop ins they do around boats on the bay and offshore, more like sprinkling gannets.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
When you aren’t fast enough ton the camera trigger you get half a gannet diving in

I forget all about the possibility of no gear, and big striped bass under those birds. I want a picture of a gannet diving in, a shot I have been trying to get for a while. The birds did not disappoint. They were diving in fast, the problem was without warning and they are low. Maybe sixty feet off the water, but they start diving in hard at thirty feet. They would dive in fast, swoop back up or drop in at the last second. This was not going to be an easy shot to get. The sun isn’t cooperating, dodging behind clouds. Some of them are doing this lazy, “casual” plop into the water and either grab a fish or just sit and float. Nature photography can be a real pain the butt.

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northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
After diving in they would usually come up with a fish swallow it fast then take off and start all over.

After about an hour of freezing my tail off, I finally get a few good shots out of a thousand, I think. I head home to look on the camera chip to see what I caught. That split second between what you saw and your finger hitting the button is crucial. I wasn’t disappointed, but I should have stayed another hour.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
Northern Gannet tossing the bunker or shad into the air to eat it

The gannets were nailing bunker as seen in the pictures, possibly some other fish as well. There were other creatures below, pushing those bunker up to the surface for the bird’s easy meal. That is the part I couldn’t catch on camera. Sometimes the gannet would come up with a fish, other times they missed. I know the feeling all too well.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
Gannet coming up with a fish, but it got away.

Now I should really pack the truck and head back down to fish, but duty calls in the DS Custom Tackle slave cave making gear and getting ready for the January 11th Millville Fire Company’s Outdoorsman Marketplace. Adulting can be annoying, when you just want to blow it all off and fish.

northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
I finally get the perfect northern gannet drop in shot. The first two were already in t he water.
northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
I finally get the perfect northern gannet drop in shot
northern gannet, bunker, indian river inlet
I finally get the perfect northern gannet drop in shot. I really need to shoot in raw and learn to edit to clean these pictures up but I am happy and it was worth the wait.

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