Bird Spotting and the Pink Granite Coast
Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
182Trip End Aug 02, 2013
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The Seven Islands are just off the coast of Perros-Guirec and are an important nature reserve. There are actually only five islands, but when they were discovered, they mistranslated the name of the islands from Breton to seven. Instead of re-naming them in their books, they just looked for two more "islands" to add to the archipelago – they are really just larger piles of rocks, but oh well.
We headed straight out to one of the islands and that was the coldest part since the boat was going fairly quickly and the wind just blew right through you. We were there in 15 minutes and the guide came upstairs with a mike to tell us where to look for the birds and a bit about them. The first island had a colony of gannets on it, the only one in France and the most southernmost in the world. There were 21,880 couples on the one island, which is a lot of birds! It was nesting season so many of them were sitting on their nests.
After viewing the gannets, we headed along the shore to another area where other birds are known to nest. We were in luck! We spotted several puffins which was definitely a highlight since we’ve never seen them in the wild and have always wanted to spot them. There are 175 couples on the island; puffins used to be so populous that they were hunted until their numbers dropped so low that hunting was banned in 1912. Imagine hunting a puffin! They are beautiful birds and we switched off between watching them through the binoculars and taking photos. We also saw a nice group of guillemots of which there are only 36 couples. Another rare sight was the razorbill which was sitting on a rock beside the guillemots. There are only 32 couples left on the islands.
We continued on past a few more islands and spotted a gray seal, which most of the other tourists were very excited about, more so than when we spotted the puffins. We were not so excited since we have had excellent seal spotting on DeCourcy, and one perched on a rock off in the distance was not a particularly thrilling site compared to that! There are only 30 seals in the archipelago though so you aren’t guaranteed to see them either.
We stopped off at the Óle aux moines (Monk’s island), so named because they had settled there in the 15th century. The guide said that they were monks who wished to be as unhappy as possible on earth to be happier in heaven. They didn’t stay long on the island since conditions were very harsh and they were poor sailors, losing many ships when they sailed from the island.
After our stopover we headed back along the coast to learn about the pink granite coast. It stretches for 10 kilometres and is a beautiful coastline of pink boulders in neat formations. The tide was right so we cruised in to one of the harbours which had beautiful rocks all around. There were red and green posts marking the channel where the boats should go, but the colours were reversed from what they would have been at home. We saw the house where Eiffel used to come on vacation, lighthouses and a chateau.
We then decided to pack up a bit of a lunch and drive over to the parking lot where there was access to the old customs officer’s trail. We enjoyed our quick lunch with nice views of the ocean before setting off on the trail. We walked the couple of kilometres to the next town over along the beautiful coast. There were lots of paths out to the rocks which had been roped off to protect the natural landscape; you could see the difference since they introduced “official” paths because the bushes and wildflowers have grown back in the areas which had been so well trodden before. There were still lots of areas to explore and you could clamber all over the rocks. It was an amazing walk and we enjoyed being out in the sun.
After our walk we drove to camp a few kilometres away. It had direct access to the beach and we had a great view right from our campsite. Brittany campsites definitely win the award for best views from camp!