Thursday, June 11, 2015

Twenty minute post: gannets, puffins, shags, Seven Islands, more or less.

I keep putting off posting because I say to myself I've not got the time to do it properly, rather like flossing one's teeth. That I have too much material which then becomes long-winded then out of date.

Then it occurs to me that, I often have twenty minutes before the next highly important thing I have to do, mostly likely sitting down and watching telly with Tom and knitting (as now), or potting on the squash plants or thinking about when and how I'm going to use up the last of last year's white currants in the freezer before this year's come on stream if the blackbirds don't get them all or strangle themselves in the netting trying. So as there are photos already edited and on web albums, which makes it easier, I could for a bit decide to take those twenty minutes to put something short and sweet here, without worrying too much about polishing or putting in links or wittering on at length...

Well that's ten of those minutes gone already, so here are some gannets, puffins and shags. These we saw from the boat we caught at Trestraou where I took the last pictures. The photos are rubbish, since it was really quite difficult to get much of a shot with a compact camera on a boat that was being battered and tossed about by unseasonable wind and waves, or that's my excuse, but they give some impression perhaps

Les Sept Iles is the oldest nature reserve in France, bought by the newly founded LPO in the very early years of the last century, when it was noticed that the newly accessible by rail area of the Pink Granite coast was being descended on by doughty Parisian hunters chartering boats and sailing off to the small almost uninhabited archipelago and blowing all the puffins to kingdom come in order to have them stuffed and take them home as souvenirs.

The puffins are, as always, very sweet, though you only really get to see them here in the water. Best place for puffins is Staffa in the Hebrides, home of the Giant Fingal and his Cave, there the puffins all but invite you into their burrows,

but you get the picture. More impressive really are the gannets. You can see the island of Roizic from the chic resort of Perros Guirrec on the mainland, and you may notice an odd white edge to one end of it. 

Closer acquaintance proves this to be gannets. Or more especially, gannet poo.

Unlike puffins, whom you have to catch quite early to see them nearer to shore and in their full, cartoon-coloured, fig, gannets are at their nest site for much of the year, about February to November. Just now they're not doing their amazing headlong fishing dives into the sea, but are wheeling about and skimming and fetching seaweed for their nests, such as they are. They are still most impressive.

As the boat draws closer you realise quite how the rock teems with them, the noise is quite astonishing, as is the smell.

We also say the lesser cormorant or shag, which contrary to what Edward Lear may have said, does not keep its eggs in a paper bag, but lays them on rocks and such like places.

And some razorbills, a species of auk, as puffins are.

Well that was more like half an hour, and I've no time for labelling, and I shan't preview, though doubtless I'll regret it. Back tomorrow, perhaps.

Oh yes, there aren't really seven islands, it was a mistranslation from the Breton. I don't know how many there really are.


Zhoen said...

No one can count the seven islands the same way twice. One of them is very shy and keeps hiding.

Amazing, all those floaty birds.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Lucy, I must tell you that I'm an attractive shade of green (emerald) with envy at your unfailing self-discipline, which is nothing like boring discipline but a strong and flexible inner scaffold which allows you to construct, and us to enjoy, a softly flowing river of acute observations and individual, instructive, inspiring impressions of the world around you. My green is turning blue.....and now pink with pleasure.

christopher said...

I don't always visit for no reason I understand because every time I do visit I fall in love with you. Oops. Was that out loud?

Catalyst said...

The numbers of birds are simply amazing. And the sea looked quite choppy. I think I might have become seasick with that and the smell from those bird-poo encrusted isles.

Marly Youmans said...

I want to be "all but invited into their burrows" and play with the puffins. Charming day that must have been, judging by the pictures. Melville would have loved the gannet poop rock, and the great dormitory tumult of them.