|Huge Number of Gannet on Bonaventure Island
in Eastern Canada
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觀， 生平第一次身歷其境，心花怒放，好不激動， 迫不及待地拿起相
In the Summer season, there are about 250,000 seabirds nesting on the Bonaventure Island which is 3.5 Km
(2.2 Miles) off the coast of village of Perce at the eastern end of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec Province in
eastern Canada. They include about 120,000 Northern Gannets on the nesting area as shown in these two
pictures that I took on July 8, 2011.
We drove our own car from New Jersey in USA for this 11-day driving tour of the Province of Quebec from July
2 to 12 in 2011. We toured the Bonaventure Island and Perce Rock National Park on July 8. Other parts of the
11-day tour will be presented in the subsequent web pages.
A baby gannet being protected by its parent in the nest.
Plunge Diving Feeding Frenzy:
The large seabirds, gannets, are known as the Champion of Diving and are among the fastest and most agile
seabird hunters. We were very lucky to be at the right place and at the right time to witness the spectacular
view of huge number of gannets in plunge diving feeding frenzy near Pointe Saint Pierre (Point St. Perter (in
English)) which is about 15 Km north of the Bonaventure Island, the nesting area of gannets. We just finished
touring the Forillon National Park on July 7 and were driving south on coastal Highway 132 along the shore
towards Perce and Bonaventure Island. At about 5 PM on July 7, we saw this huge group of gannets, the
champion divers, about 1 Km off shore dive bombing from mid-air about 100 feet above water down into the
water at very high speed (100 Km/h). Their dive bombing look almost like many missiles or javelins shooting into
the water. Therefore, gannet is also known as missile bird. Furthermore, these diving champion birds pierce the
water at high speed with the smallest amount of splash, like an Olympian diver performing the perfect dive. With
such high speed, they dive very deep into the water to catch fish. There must be a big group of small fish (such
as capelin) in the water in that area just north of the Plate Island to attract such a huge group of gannets in such
feeding frenzy. We stood on the shore and used my super zoom camera with 35X optical zoom to zoom in to
take two movie clips of such fantastic feeding frenzy about 1 Km away. I have uploaded the two movie clips that
I took onto the YouTube website.
Please click on the following two YouTube websites to enjoy the spectacular group acrobatics of the Champion
We saw many gannets flew from Bonaventure Island to this area to join the plunge diving feeding frenzy and
they are flying from right to left on these movie frames. After diving and catching the fish, they emerge to the
water surface and take off to fly back to their nesting area on Bonaventure Island to feed their baby birds.
These returning gannets are flying from left to right on these movie frames.
In addition to many gannets nesting on the cliff, many other gannets are busily flying out to the sea to
catch fish and flying back to the nests to feed the baby gannets.
The marina at the village of Perce where visitors can get on the tour boat to visit the Bonaventure Island at the
far side of this picture. The tour boats depart every hour on the hour from this marina. In the summer busy
season, the tour boats operate from 8 AM to 5 PM. No reservation is necessary.
One of several tour boats carrying visitors from the village of Perce to Bonaventure Island.
Mountain and cliff on northern end of the village of Perce as viewed from the Bonaventure Island.
The boardwalk, the marina and the Perce Rock as viewed from Hotel La Normandie in the village of Perce.
The fabulous Pierced (Perce) Rock, seen by millions of tourists, is an impressive monolith that is perhaps the
most photographed locale on the Gaspe peninsula. There used to be two holes in Perce Rock, but one arch
came crushing down in 1845.
Location of Bonaventure Island:
Bonaventure Island is a Canadian island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence located 3.5 kilometers (2.2 mi) off the
southern coast of Gaspé Peninsula of the Province of Quebec, 5 kilometers (3 mi) southeast of the village of
Percé. Bonaventure Island and the Village of Perce are about 1090 km east of Montreal.
Map: Click here to see interactive Google Map showing location of Bonaventure Island
Direction to Perce:
From Montreal, take highway 20 going East toward Quebec City along south shore of St. Lawrence River.
Continue on Highway 20 East to Rivière-du-Loup where the road becomes coastal Highway 132 East along
south shore of St. Lawrence River (i.e., north coast of Gaspe Peninsula). Continue on coastal Highway 132
East (On north coast of Gaspe Peninsula) all the way to reach the village of Perce.
An Option of South Route: At Ste-Flavie on the north coast of Gaspe Peninsula, Highway 132 splits into (1) a
north route along north coast and (2) a south route crossing the Matapedia Valley to reach the southern
Gaspesie shore. Therefore, there is an option at Ste-Flavie to take the southern Highway 132 along the
Chaleurs Bay on southern coast of Gaspe Peninsula to reach Percé.
There is yet a third option to come from south through the Province of New Brunswick and to cross the steel
bridge at Campbellton into the Province of Quebec. Then connects into southern coastal Highway 132 to go
east to reach Perce.
The coastal Highway 132 is a scenic highway around Gaspe Peninsula with picturesque villages, breathtaking
vistas, jagged cliffs, uneven coastline and breathtaking mountains. No matter where you look, the sea is never
far away, with sea's invigorating breeze. It has many pull-out roadside parking lots, look-out points, picnic
tables and toilet facilities. Each little fishing town is unique and every curve in the road brings fresh delights.
The long drive alone is worth the trip, to admire the crags of the jagged coast, the uninterrupted views of the
ocean and the picturesque villages with their fishermen's piers. It is desirable for visitors to plan for ample time
to drive leisurely so that one can stop from time to time to enjoy the beauty of the nature along this beautiful
Two towns with very scenic paths are Mont-Saint-Pierre (on north shore) and Perce. The unpaved road to the
top of Mont-Saint-Pierre offers a panoramic view of the town nestled in the valley of the Mont-Saint-Pierre
River. This is one of the premier hang gliding locations in North America and in the summertime, especially
during La Fete du Vol Libre that takes place at the end of July, brilliant colors fill the air as 'birdmen' swoop and
glide to the meadow below.
The AAA tour book indicates that Perce has a 3-mile (5 Km) scenic drive that passes the Mont-Blanc, the
Overlook, the Big Bowl, the Pic of Dawn, the Three-Sisters Cliff, and a spectacular view of the natural
Amphitheater of Perce. Mont-Sainte-Anne commands superb views of Perce Rock, Bonaventure Island and the
The scenic coastal Highway 132 is quite "rural" with long distance between little villages. Visitors should fill up
the gas tank of the car in the morning before starting out and should bring some foods, sandwich, and bottles
of drinking water just in case if you get hungry or thirsty but there is no town or village in sight.
Language in Province of Quebec:
Although many people in the large cities of Montreal and Quebec City are bilingual, the village of Perce and
Bonaventure Island are in remote rural area thousand kilometers away from major cities. Most local people in
such remote rural areas speak only French. All the traffic road signs are also in French only. This gives visitors
a strong feeling of traveling in a foreign country with different language and different culture. For example, the
STOP sign becomes ARRET sign. What does "Interdiction de Stationner" mean? It is important for English
speaking visitors to do some home work on French traffic road signs to be able to drive safely in the Province
of Quebec. A list of Quebec's French Road Signs is available at the following website:
The AAA tour book for Quebec also has a shorter list of Quebec's French Road Signs.
GPS Navigator: Our GPS navigator has been very helpful in this 11-day Driving Tour in the Province of
Quebec with French Road Signs and French street/road names.
When we were on the tour boat going from the village of Perce to the Bonaventure Island, we saw not only
many birds, but also some whales as shown in these whale pictures that I took on the boat. The waterspout
from the blowhole, the back fin, the arching back, and then the tail.
More view of gannets in light above the nesting area
This gannet is coming in for landing
Bonaventure Island viewed from the Hotel La Normandie in the village of Perce.
Zoom in for a close up view of the head of a gannet.
Many gannets were flying above the nesting area in addition to many gannets on the nesting area.
Gannets are very vocal, loud and noisy as shown in my movie clip in the following YouTube website:
Visitors are allowed to get very close to about 5 feet distance from the protected nesting area of gannets.
The small marina on the Bonaventure Island for tour boat to dock and the visitors to get off the tour boat to
get on the Bonaventure Island. The marina is at the lowest point on the west side of the Bonaventure Island
whereas the gannet nesting area is on the high cliff on the east side of the island approximately 75 meters
(=247 feet or 25-story building) above sea level. From this small marina, visitors take a 45-minute hiking trail
to reach the gannet nesting area. The 45-minute hiking trail is not a level hiking trail. The first 35 minutes are
uphill trail from the marina near the sea level to go up gradually to the high cliff on the east side about 75
meters above sea level. The last 10 minutes are level or slightly down hill trail. In other words, in the 45-minute
hiking trail, the visitors essentially climb from sea level up to the height of the top of a 25-story building. There
are several benches and toilet facilities along the hiking trail for visitors to rest as necessary. In addition to this
45-minute trail, there are three other longer trails as shown in the following detailed park map:
Map: Click here to see a detailed park map with 4 hiking trails on Bonaventure Island.
The small national park ticket office near the small marina on the Bonaventure Island for visitors to buy the
ticket to tour the National Park of Bonaventure Island and Perce Rock.
There's a small café where you can grab a quick lunch. But we brought our own sandwich, fruits and bottled
water in my backpack, instead.
The coastal Highway 132 becomes a busy street in the Village of Perce with several hotels, restaurants,
stores and ticket offices for tourists to buy tour boat tickets to tour Bonaventure Island.
Village of Perce as viewed from the hiking trail on Bonaventure Island
The village of Perce, the Perce Rock and the Bonaventure Island as viewed from a high point of Highway 132
climbing up the mountain behind the village of Perce.
Many Seabirds Nesting on Cliff:
From the tour boat, we also saw several seals at the base of the cliff of Bonaventure Island.
Billions of smelt-like bait fish (capelins) come near the sandy beach in Newfoundland and in Gaspe Peninsula to
spawn between June and July. High tide and waves carry many spawning capelins right up to the beaches.
Millions of seabirds, many other big fish (e.g., cods) and many whales also come to the ocean near
Newfoundland and Gaspe Peninsula in the summer for their annual feast of huge number of capelins. Local
people may use any containers to scoop up lots of capelins on the beach during the capelin run. A picture of a
school of capelins in the water can be seen at the following website:
Capelin is known as Shishamo in Japanese restaurants and as 柳葉魚 in Chinese. The fishing industries in
Newfoundland and Gaspe Peninsula have been exporting large quantity of capelins to many Japanese
When we were driving along coastal Highway 132 near Pointe Saint Pierre (Point St. Peter in English), what
we first saw was huge number of tiny white dots near the Plate Island about 1 Km off shore as shown in the
picture above. So we got off Highway 132 and went down the local road, Rue de la Pointe Saint Pierre, for a
short distance east to reach a small parking lot near the shore. Then we used our compact super-zoom
camera with 35X optical zoom to zoom in on those tiny white dots. Wow! We were happily surprised to see the
huge number of gannets in the exciting plunge diving feeding frenzy as described above. It was a cloudy late
afternoon and started to rain about one hour after this picture was taken. So, we had only about one-hour
window to see this fantastic event.
According to page 343 in the Book entitled "Quebec" published by Lonely Planet (August 2002, Available by
Google Internet Search), such plunge diving feeding frenzy of huge number of gannets usually occurs in the
water between Gaspe and Perce. Therefore, visitors interested in watching such spectacular show of
Champion of Diving should pay special attention when they are driving along coastal highway 132 between
Gaspe and Perce if they are very lucky to be at the right place and at the right time. A good binocular, or a
telescope or a super-zoom camera is necessary to see them well if it happens.
This is the small parking lot at the end of Rue de la Pointe Saint Pierre. From here, there is a short trail to
reach the "Pointe" and shore edge to see the Plate Island and the spectacular dive bombing of gannets about
1 Km off shore. A landmark near the junction of the coastal Highway 132 and Rue de la Pointe Saint Pierre is
the big road sign of Motel Suisse.
More photos, movie clip and information on this special event of plunge diving feeding frenzy of gannets are
available at May Lee's web page at:
After leaving the marina in the Village of Perce and before landing on the small marina on Bonaventure Island,
the tour boat cruises around both sides of Perce Rock and around the Bonaventure Island for visitors to see
many gannets and other seabirds nesting on the ledges of the cliff as shown in these pictures that I took from
the tour boat.
Many seabirds nesting on the cliff of Perce Rock
Many seabirds nesting on the cliff of Perce Rock.
I also took a movie clip to scan the large cliff area of Bonaventure Island with many gannets and other
seabirds nesting on the ledges on the cliff as shown in the following YouTube website:
However, it is not easy to hold the camera with the super-zoom steady for many minutes for the movie clip
recording because (1) the tour boat was shaking and rolling from side to side in the wave and (2) it is not easy
to cover such a large cliff area with so many seabirds spreading out on the cliff.
There are also many cormorants in this area.
One of the largest and most accessible bird sanctuaries in the world, with more than 250,000 birds,
Bonaventure Island is a major tourist destination with boat and island tours from May to October. It is home to
the largest gannet colony in North America and the second largest in the world. It is one of the world largest
Our Tour Loop:
The sequence of the Points of Interest in our 11-day driving tour of the Province of Quebec is the following:
New Jersey --> Montreal (tour Montreal Botanic Gardens and Mont Royal Park for panoramic view of
Montreal) --> LaSalle (tour Parc des Rapides and bird watching) --> Tour Parc National de Canada de la
Mauricie --> Boat Tour of Saguenay Fjord National Park --> Ferry Crossing of Saguenay River from Baie
Sainte Catherine to Tadoussac --> Tour Tadoussac and Confluence of St. Lawrence River and Saguenay
River --> Ferry Crossing of St. Lawrence River from Saint Simeon to Riviere du Loup --> Coastal Highway 132
East -> Tour Forillon National Park --> Tour Bonaventure Island and Perce Rock National Park --> Coastal
Highway 132 South then West -> Tour Chaleur Bay, BioParc and Parc National de Miguasha --> Ferry
Crossing of St. Lawrence River from Levis to Quebec City --> Tour Parc de la Chute-Montmorency Falls near
Quebec City --> New Jersey
Part 2 on Forillon National Park is at:
空中芭蕾， 翩翩起舞， 神采飛揚。
My previous experience of watching gannets in action on Delaware Bay between Delaware and New Jersey
and on Cape St. Mary in Newfoundland in eastern Canada are described on my Travelogue web page at:
Some gannets are pulling up grass here on the grassy area to be used as nesting material.
Tail of a whale
Many yellow flowers along the hiking trails on Bonaventure Island.
A seabird, may be common eider, in flight just above water.
Bonaventure Island and the small marina as viewed from the tour boat. In the 45-minute hiking trail, the visitors
are hiking from the marina almost at the sea level up to the top of Bonaventure Island as shown on this picture.
One can see the height of the top of Bonaventure Island relative to those few houses near the small marina.
Among the plunge diving feeding frenzy of gannets near Pointe Saint Pierre, the middle of the left side of this
picture seems to indicate the back of a whale. It appears that whales were also involved in this feeding frenzy
on the large school of fish in the area near Pointe Saint Pierre.
On March 22 and 24, 2012 during the spring migration season, I also enjoyed watching some gannets flying
and bomb diving on Sandy Hook Bay in New Jersey as shown on my web page at:
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour
loop of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration is described on my web page at: