Friday, June 20, 2008

Just before a very important birthday

Tomorrow is Mrs The Millbrooker's big day and there'll be lots of photos and news of the celebrations on these pages in the days to come.

It's definitely birthday season at Millbrooker Towers. Wizzers enjoyed her 18th early in the month and it was my turn while Mrs The Millbrooker and I were in Brittany. So this posting, which will shortly be overshadowed by the momentous events of the morrow, is all about the jolly good time I had back on the 10th when I entered my 46th year.

I decided to take a boat trip from Perros Guirec for the birthday outing. This will mean nothing to anyone except the most diligent atlas-botherers. Perros Guirec is on the north coast of Brittany close to Lannion and not all that far from Morlaix (if any of that helps). This is a shot of the seafront on the western side of town.
The outing began, as is only appropriate for a greedy guts like me, with a decent luncheon at one of the esplanade restaurants.

After a yummy feast of seafood and Breton cider Mrs The Millbrooker and I gathered ourselves together and headed for the Gare Marine at the other end of the beach for the trip to Les Sept Iles (that'll be The Seven Islands, then).

I do understand that not everyone shares my delight in watching birds, but Les Sept Iles is a truly spectacular sight to see. The farthest island from the mainland is the summer home to 16500 breeding pairs of gannets (that's 33000 individuals). Gannets are majestic (and quite large) birds close up. We've often spotted a few of them a mile of so out from Plymouth, but the big breeding colonies are far away from these parts.

It's impossible to give a real impression of the noise, the activity and the beauty of seeing the colony in close up; this is the best photo I got.

Here's one that I hope give an impression of the size of the colony from afar. All of the white is a covering of gannets.

Les Sept Iles has more treats in store for birders. In another cove, just around the corner from the gannet colony is a smaller colony of puffins. I've wanted to see puffins since I was a wee lad. I finally got to do so and they're wonderful little creatures; very busy and comical. I didn't get any really good shots of them, they do move very quickly and the boat was bobbing about as well, but this is the best offering.

The islands are also home to small colonies of razorbills, guillemots and manx shearwaters, but we weren't lucky enough to spot them. We did see an obligingly posing grey seal, though.

After the birding the boat dropped us off at one of the islands for a leg stretch, and this is where Mrs The Millbrooker took the official 45th birthday portrait. I chose to sport the same pair of finely tailored long shorts as on last year's outing to St Michael's Mount; they seem to portray a certain je ne sais quoi...

My thanks to everyone who kindly sent cards and birthday messages, I had a great day during an excellent holiday.

Right that's this year's minor birthday done an dusted...onwards to the major one; I guess we'll be seeing many readers of these drivellings tomorrow. Until then...

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