01 July 2009

2006: Les Sept-Iles, Trestaou

01 July

Not quite a pelagic trip, the sightseeing boat from Trestraou is still going out to Les Sept-Iles, the Seven Islands, to search for birds associated more with ocean than land. And our first such is incredibly prolific, with numbers approaching forty thousand.

The adult Northern Gannet is an elegant flyer, with a yellowish, primitive-looking head and black wingtips. Diving into the ocean for its meal usually entails soaring or hovering at some distance above the water, then going in arrow-straight. Their nests hug the rocky cliffs of Ile Rouzic and, while we didn't get close enough for sharp images, we could see that a fair number of the nests contained downy chicks.

On the other side of the island, the Northern Gannet was still the largest volume dealership, but here we were also able to find cormorants by the dozens (the jury is still out as to whether they were English Shags, Grand Cormorants, or both), Common Guillemots, Razorbills, and my personal favourite, Atlantic Puffins. Such a comical face on top of a penguin-like body, and so perfectly-adapted to its environment.

Next island over, a sunning cormorant (sp) was the winner in the talent contest. Even though there was plenty of room on the rocks not five feet away, s/he was drying wings on the slightest of rock shelves facing a sheer cliff metres tall. I have no idea what s/he was thinking, but it must have been what the doctor ordered, as s/he stayed in that spot while the boat was in view... Also seen on the island were more conventional cormorants (also of unknown speciation), Razorbills, and a few Eurasian Oystercatchers. Overhead, a Northern Gannets were assuming the Canada Goose flight formation...

Last island visited was Ile aux Moines, the Isle of Monks. During and since the visit, I've found no information about the ruined fort on the north of the island, nor about the stone house or the lighthouse on the south and west. With the exception of gulls, gorse, ferns, and a few other rocky-land-loving plants, there wasn't much to make whoopie about on the island with the heavy haze in the air. The hike around the island is pretty good exercise, but given the dearth of information available on the island about the attractions, I'd recommend saving the price difference (between a hiking tour and a non-hiking tour) unless your heart needs a good 30-minute workout...

For what it's worth, the tour itself was worth the price of admission (the equivalent of $25 US, give or take), but I would have been much happier (mostly as a photographer) if the fog hadn't been a pain.


Considering what I saw yesterday outside Trébeurden with the army of land yachts clogging the main highway west of Lannion, today was very quiet on what I would have thought would be prime vacation terrain: Perros-Guirec's beach at Trestraou. Yes, I saw vehicle plates from France (predominant), but also viewed UK (England football supporters), German, Belgian, the Netherlands, and even one Romanian. Given temperatures in the mid-20s and perfect beach conditions, it was surprising not to see the same issues here with crowding.

A few interesting notes:

# Topless sunbathing apparently is not illegal, but it is also not predominant. It is simply what it is, and I note it here only because the same sun-worshipping attitude in the states would have brought out national television crews to film the "insanity", townspeople pointing and making incredulous faces, and you would hear about the lack of family values in the pulpits, how the world is going to hell, etc. Here, there are no gawkers, and families intent on having a good time on the sand have no problems placing their towels nearby; not a single person gives the sunbather a second thought. In my most humble opinion, the US is far too psychotically-repressed for its own good, and could learn a thing or two million.

# Those same families love their games, bringing European footballs, pickleball paddles, and other beach-toys. While there were definitely sun-worshippers about, most were active with games during their time on the sand.

# Hungry after visiting Les Sept-Iles (well, honestly, only three of them), a local sandwich shoppe in Trestraou provided the required sustenance. My choice: jambon (ham), salade (fine-chopped lettuce and red cabbage), tomate (self-evident), oeuf (sliced hard-boiled egg), and a mayo dressing of some fashion. It was all surrounded by a crusty French baguette. The name: "Sandwich Americain Classic." I'm not sure where in the US something like this is served, but I have to admit, it was quite tasty.

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