Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue March 03 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | March 3, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Bird Encounters on Bonaventure Island

    Bird Encounters on Bonaventure Island

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    The village of Percé, located on the Eastern tip of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula, holds a fascinating range of natural hallmarks. The village is actually named for the region's landmark of Perce' or pierced rock, a massive limestone arch rising from the St. Lawrence River like a prehistoric stone monster.

    You can only view Percé rock by boat, on the way to Bonaventure Island. Seeing the structure up close, all 289 feet wide by 300 feet high of it, is a memorable experience but it's just the beginning. Journeying to Bonaventure island fills all of your senses, making you hyper aware of the all of the wonders of nature.

    The stench arrives before you even spot them. Sailing to Bonaventure Island, absorbing the stunning scenery, I realized that I was near the world's second largest Northern Gannet breeding colony when the noxious aroma of pounds of bird poop accosted my nose.

    The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of birds quickly helped me focus on all the white feathers clustered around me but my nose and eyes were in shock. Gazing at them from a distance, they didn't even look like birds but blankets of white, covering slabs of rock. Even if I didn't know that these were birds I soon received sticky proof in the form of bird poop dropped on my shoulders from the 250-foot nesting cliffs.

     It happened so fast that I didn't even realize it until I stood up to hop off the boat and noticed that the arms of my jacket were dotted with white specks. It wasn't quite as gross as it sounds but I was really glad to arrive on the island, shake off the bird poop and wander the pretty trails and lush greenery.

     There are dozens of trails that wind around the island's rocky terrain. I joined a group and we hiked through the cleared trails that lead to the birds. We hiked up hills. And down hills. And through forests. And we hiked some more. It felt like hours and hours but it was actually about 45 minutes.
    Finally, there were the birds. Flapping, squawking, flying, everywhere. Everywhere you turned, the white feathered Gannets perched. It was an overwhelming experience, being totally surrounded by birds. Bonaventure hosts 293 species but the Gannets are the most visible. I got close enough to observe a mother sheltering her baby chick in a nest.

    Most of the birds seemed oblivious to our presence and we watched them hunt for food, sun themselves on the beach and confidently stroll around. It was clear that I was a visitor on this island of birds and that they were only briefly allowing me into their home.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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