Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Antarctica IX.

1-26-17 NEW ISLAND, FALKLANDS: We’re in the Falkland Islands. There are two big, main islands and dozens of small ones. We spent the morning on New Island. The birds included—shags, albatross, rock-hopper penguins, geese, caracara, turkey vultures, a tyrant, skua, gulls, and a brazen, in-your-face tussacbird.

The vegetation consisted of grasses, some of the grass in big tufts called tussac grass that made nice chairs, scruffy juniper-like shrubs, but no trees except for planted ones near the tiny village. There are lots of rabbits, non-native, obviously, and their burrows. Dolphins and whales made a number of cameo appearances.

It was warm, sunny and breezy, a pleasant change from the weather further south. The islands bedrock is sandstone. The sandstone was deposited underwater and later uplifted above sea level at some point. After which erosion of the sandstone supplied the sand for the beaches.

The hike was across the island’s narrow neck to paired rocky ravines/rookeries with mixed colonies of shags, albatrosses and penguins. It was fun watching the different flight patterns of the albatrosses and shags. After lunch, we motored off to Carcass Island.

New Island with a sandstone cliff turning into beach.

Magellanic oystercatcher.

Ruddy-headed goose is almost identical with the Upland goose.

Dark-faced ground tyrant.

Enjoys the grassland and has many burrows.

Sooty albatross?

Rookery with rocks and tussac grass. It's mostly shags, but can find albatross and penguins in there.

The river-cut ravine is great for rookeries.

Black-browed albatross and chick.

Black-browed albatross and chick again.

Rock-hopper penguin, our fifth species. red eye, red bill yellow eyebrow and ear feathers.

Dolphin gull.

Striated caracara.

Turkey vultures.

Falkland imperial shags are different from Antarctic, South American and South Georgia shags.

Tussacbird, makes friends easily.

Beach day.

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