OK...so maybe you're wondering why should I go out of my way to look at a "flock of birds"??
I guess the simple answer is DON'T go...unless you're interested in a really peaceful and moderate hike through some easy terrain to see something that's happened over the course of time for eons.
Its a natural event, the gathering, the nesting,the raising of they're young. Its kind of interesting to see they're social hierarchy at work and on a nice day, you just might be impressed by the size of the colony and the beauty that's there to see, if you look for it.
At the colony site there's two main viewing platforms that are very close to the edge of the flock, a wooden fence separates you from them.
There's a building that houses a food stand, and washrooms.Picnic tables are scattered about close to the building that's set away from the colony.
I don't think I'd enjoy it as much if I was visiting on a rainy day.
They're pretty graceful when they're flying..certainly they're clumsy and awkward and mischievous on the ground.
THEY STEAL from each other!! It's really quite a scene and its kind of fun to watch for a little while..You'll see many people using wild telephoto lenses capturing the birds in action.
Ive made visits here over the years a couple of times. In June of 2011 I discovered that the colony has more than doubled in population in the 20 years since I've last visited. That means that they smell twice as bad. :o(
Northern Gannets aren't the only sea bird that nests here, reportedly up to 300 species of birds can be seen here at one time or another,nesting, or just passing through.
If you're passing through the Gaspe region of Quebec...missing this phenomenon would really be a shame..
Check it out...its something that you'll remember for a long time.
Unfortunately if you are mobility challenged you will not easily be able to venture far on this island.
The only means of transport once you arrive here is by foot and the trails are maintained, cleared of most rock and are mostly a hard packed well trampled on soil.
The trail that I used to get to the colony was pretty easy requiring only moderate effort,the name of the trail is "Sentiers des Colonies"
There are a variety of trails that will take you longer but the most direct trail, the one that I used, takes you right across the island and takes about 45 minutes, depending how much energy you put into it.
Along the way there are benches placed here and there and washrooms as well.The trail is well marked and its not easy to confuse it with anything else...There's no chance that you can get off of it and easily get yourself lost.
You'll find an assortment of native plants including Canadian Bunchberry along the trail...when I visited they were in bloom and plentiful...
For a glimpse of the trail and the beauty of the silence you can encounter along the way...take a look at the little video that is attached to the page here..
You pick up a boat in the closest town to Bonaventure for the transit between the town of Percé and the island.
We used a company named "Bateaux de crossiers Julien Cloutier" and the cost in Summer of 2011 was $ 25.00 for an adult $ 15.00 for seniors and $ 6.00 for Children.
Along the main street of Percé you will easily find small shops that belong to this company that you can purchase your tickets from. They depart from the main wharf along the main street..its a small town so its really quite easy to find.
Various sailing times are available, they take you out to Bonaventure to drop you off but first they circumnavigate the well known Percé Rock, and then Bonaventure Island itself, showing you the nesting cliffs of the Gannet colony,eventually arriving at the wharf on Bonaventure Island where your hike begins.
The boat that we sailed on was modern and clean and fairly large, having a capacity of about 125 people. The boat was well equipped with safety equipment and even had a small galley where you could purchase drinks and snacks.
You don't have a FIXED return time but you MUST be on board the last sailing of the day. The last sailing time depends on the time of the year. While you are en route to the island you will be given a narrative description over a loudspeaker of what you are seeing and will include information about return sailing times.There are a few companies that are doing this transit and the company ships are very distinct..they arrive and depart from the same wharf but the ticket you use will also be distinct.