Why gannets? I don’t know. But I love them.
There’s a great image of gannets here. (Unfortunately, the only close-up photograph I have taken is of the one whose body washed up on the beach at St. Augustine last spring. She — for so I decided that she was — made for a good opportunity for up-close study over the week we were there, but her soaring days were over.)
It was at St. Augustine that I discovered gannets. Many, many years ago, sitting on the beach with my binoculars, I suddenly realized that the birds I was watching far out to sea were not pelicans. I had been taking in their acrobatic dives, but saw that their coloring ~ their white torpedo bodies flanked by jet-black wingtips ~ was completely off. With a little research, I discovered that northern gannets, birds of the ocean off Canada and Scotland, winter as far south as St. Augustine, and occasionally can be seen from the beaches, when storms drive them shoreward.
Some years I see them, some years I don’t. Once, out in a motorboat preparatory to a parasailing adventure, I saw one resting on the waves. “A gannet!” I was excited! Our guide was surprised. “I thought they were just gulls,” he said.
Gannets nest in huge colonies, thousands of large and loud birds in close quarters raising fluffy young to become pirates of the sea. And they soar and dive ~ if you search for them on google and youtube, you will find astounding gannet feats recorded in photographs and films. Elegant, exquisitely colored, fearless acrobats ~ who wouldn’t want to return someday as a gannet?
Back when people hid behind pseudonyms online, I chose “oceanmrc” ~ ocean + my initials ~ as my first, and Gannet Girl as my second. Gannet Girl’s first blog was entitled Search the Sea. Due to the vagaries of life, my blog writing has undergone many reincarnations of its own over the past fourteen years, but I am feeling the pull of that old title these days.
I had no idea that l’Île Bonaventure (click through the dots ~ lots of pictures), just off the coast of the Gaspésie Peninsula, was home to a major colony of nesting gannets, not until I began to research the adventure that Judi and I are planning. I am going to a gannet colony. When I say that I may never return, I mean it.
I think that Judi is a little concerned. But I am excited for all that we are going to see on Gaspésie ~ whales, kittiwakes (those are birds, too), forests, waters ~ and to get to meet the people and learn something about their lives, out on the edge of the sea in the north.
But I am just a little bit obsessed with les fous de bassan. My best bird friends.