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These are huge and imposing seabirds, impressive flyers and formidable plunge-divers. They are predominantly white or off-white in appearance, with a long neck and a buff tinge on head and nape. Wings are long and narrow (180 to 190cm wingspan), white with dark-brown or black tips. The sport long pointed blue-grey bill, contrasting with black bare skin around the mouth and eyes. They are normally solitary, but gather in large colonies when breeding - and these colonies are really LOUD... The colony here is the only one in France, and counts well over 20000 breeding couples, and this one is not the biggest one...
This colony breeds on island of Rouzic in the Jentilez (or Seven Islands) archipelago off the coast of Brittany (France). This colony is only one in France, and is the southernmost breeding colony of northern gannets - according to our hosts, guides employed by LPO (Bird Protection League - a leading nature protection agency in France), this island hosted about 22500 breeding couples in 2019; counting for 2020 was not yet undertaken ata the time we visited. The island itself is not more than a rock in the sea, with some scarce vegetation cover, mainly herbs and lichens, and few shrubs. Beside Gannets, puffins, shearwaters, razorbills and 3 species of gulls nest on island; and sea lions have also chosen this group of islands as home.
I kept this spotting on ice for some time, wanting to use it as my 2000th one; funnily enough, it will also be my 900th bird spotting here... Well this one was well worth it in my eyes - the spotting itself was special, this birds are just magnificent, and this would be a rare occasion for me to see them. The place itself, the Natural Reserve of 7 islands, is also very special - it is simply gorgeous and unique; but the Ornithological reserve is the first one established in France (1912); giving a birth to LPO (Bird Protection League - see above) as well. And yes; being a long-time member and supporter of the organisation, I have insisted to join one of the visits organised by LPO - and our hosts were exceptional, and provided an exceptional journey, visit and explanations.