Its funny how a simple question can lead you down the path of so many interesting things. We were at a pub in Baile Na Ngall Beag, and there was a very old dusty taxidermy display of the animals from around the area. No idea how old it was, because these type things look ancient a day after they were put up, dust just seems to gravitate to them. Plus, how do you clean all the feathers off. In it were a range of animals, from a big old lobster, sea gulls, puffins, and a heron. There was one bird that peaked my interest though.
It was fairly large as birds go, with a wicked looking beak, big and powerful. Its body was pretty solid, and then it had two pasty white feet. It looked a lot like a boobie, of Galapagos fame. But I had no idea Boobies lived in Ireland. And yes, I do giggle like a ten year old even today every time I say boobies. I asked Yvonne, and though I did not hear her well, she thought it was a gana, or something like that. We asked a few locals near by, and no one knew. I was going to make an attempt to ask the owner, but it was a packed house, and we were entertaining a toddler too. Here I was thinking we might have a rare specimen of an extinct bird. Very exciting and then I quickly forgot about it.
Later that night once I was home, around 3 am, because the toddler was not sleeping, I posted some photos. I asked the greater world of Facebook for the answer. I got boobies as an answer, which was my thought too. Then my buddy Leonard, who is very Irish and my living Google of Ireland, said it was a Gannet. Turns out Yvonne was right, I just did not hear her. I guess I better listen to my wife more. So I decided to learn more about them, and what a story I got.
In New Zealand there was an island where the Gannets had died out, but the islanders wanted to establish a new colony there. Volunteers created an entire flock of Gannets to hang with. They made a bunch of hand painted concrete ones with sound effects to lure them in. Only one gannet moved in though, and they named him Nigel. He took a fancy to a very sexy though hard little lady, and began building a nest for her. But, well as you know, that just did not work out well; she kept giving him the cold shoulder.
So imagine his joy when years later, 3 living breathing gannets decided to join the concrete colony. But for whatever reason, they did not get on with Nigel. I suppose by this time, his concrete world was the only one he could handle. So even with a few fair ladies near by, poor Nigel died in the shadow of his concrete love.
You can’t make this stuff up, so now, it’s my goal to spot living gannets in Ireland, but poor old Nigel will never be far from my mind. There are over 70,000 nest sites on the island of Skellig Michael, which is our number one goal to visit in Ireland for the last five years. Long before it got famous for a little movie names Star Wars.