Behind the image — Gannet pair

The immeasurable amount of seabirds that cloaked the sea cliffs was an overwhelming sight; the first time I visited Bempton Cliffs last summer. Streaks of white, black and grey zoomed back and forth across the cliff face and each individual bird call combined to a air-filling chorus of courtship and territorial cries. The first time I encountered gannets was off the coast of Lunga on the West Coast of Scotland. They bobbed on the ocean surface and showcased their immense speed and agility when they sliced through the water to catch fish, brought up by a minke whale who was feeding a couple hundred metres from the vessel I was on. But this was the first time I caught sight of them up close, with their bright blur piercing eye rings and mellow tones of yellow around the back of the head and neck. They essentially live in two worlds, one partly on land but mostly living their lives at sea, a kind of living no human has ever encountered for the length of time these birds live for. The bond these birds share with their partner can last their own lifetimes, performing dances and calls to welcome their partner home when they return from the sea to breed. I was lucky to witness these bonding dances for myself as they performed right on the cliff edge, and while I captured this image of a pair doing just that, I was left wondering what sweet nothings they were saying to each other, before they start repeating the previous season of raising another chick in a world we can only dream of being part of.