Day 15 - September 22, 2013 - Bonaventure Island, Canada
By Franz Bairlein, Ornithologist
Co-ordinates: N 48º30'49", W 64º10'20"
Weather: cloudy, partly sunny; rain in the afternoon
Air Temperature: 12.5ºC
Pressure: 1005 hPa
Wind: 35.2 km/h
At 8:00am Silver Explorer anchored offshore the small town of Percé, halfway to Bonaventure Island. It was here that we would visit the famous and largest on earth Northern Gannet colony, harbouring some 60,000 breeding pairs of gannets, 15,000 pairs of Kittiwakes, 20,000 pairs of Common Guillemot, 250 pairs of Double-crested Cormorant and even a few Atlantic Puffins.
At 8:30am we sent out a scoutboat to explore the situation. Unfortunately, due to too much swell we were not able to make it to the island. Instead, it was decided to reposition the ship to Gaspé, a small town to the North of Percé, which would allow us to travel to Bonaventure Island by local boats. Therefore, Silver Explorer lifted anchor and set sail towards Gaspé at 9:45am.
At 10:00am, Chris Harbard held a lecture in the Theatre on his personal fascination with birds. Built around his photographs, his presentation went through some bird features, such as feathers, plumage colours, and variations in beaks.
At 12:00am Silver Explorer arrived at Gaspé (N 48°50’09’’, W 4°27’40’’). After setting the shoreparty at a brand new pier, we disembarked the guests for a one hour bus drive to L’Anse-a-Beaufils for a lunch lobsterfest in a nice renovated old fishing plant.
As we enjoyed the lobster lunch and live music presented by a local duo, wind picked up and heavy rain showers came through. Unfortunately, the local tour operators needed to cancel the planned afternoon trip to Bonaventure Island. Thus, we extended our lunch break, giving everyone more time to visit the atelier and craft shop.
At 3:45 pm the busses left for return to Gaspé along the scenic coastal route via Percé. We stopped at a view point to see the famous Percé Rock. However, it was almost hidden in dense fog. A further stop for 45 minutes in downtown Percé was affected by heavy rain showers and strong wind. Nevertheless, I very much appreciated a flock of Harlequin Ducks surfing the waves at the pier.
Back to Gaspé at 6:00pm I attended the shoreparty. Though still raining, embarkation went smoothly due to the sheltered landing site. All aboard, Silver Explorer lifted anchor at 7:00pm and set sail for tomorrow’s destination of Iles de la Madelaine.
Although we were unable to take part in our planned landings on Bonaventure Island and visit the Northern Gannet colony, I followed a kind dinner invitation by guests and finished another fascinating day of our voyage.
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