Thursday, February 09, 2017

Antarctica XI.

1-27-17 SAUNDERS ISLAND, FALKLANDS: Our last expedition started after another early breakfast. Saunders Island is much like the last two in that we landed on a low land between two higher sections. It’s about a mile across, mostly sand, eroded from the sandstone bedrock. Part of the east side is fenced for sheep. It was overcast, but with no rain, a gentle wind and warm temps in the thirties.

We saw all five of the penguins native to the Falklands, which includes our first glimpse of the King penguins. We also saw another solitary Macaroni penguin, this one embedded with rock hoppers. Gentoo and Magellanic penguins were also present. We saw chicks of all the penguins except the Macaroni, and chicks of—skua, steamer ducks, upland geese, Magellanic oystercatcher, and dolphin gull.

I got high enough on the east side of the island to see the rock hopper rookery where the Macaroni penguin lives, which was high enough to see most of the island and the ocean beaches on both sides. I didn’t continue up to the albatross rookery here, because we saw one yesterday at Carcass Island and because it was a hard climb.

After a few hours of bird watching, we went back to the ship for lunch and began checking out and wrapping up as we motored to Stanley, the capitol of the Falklands.

King penguin, our seventh species. These are much taller with orange highlights.

Three kings.

Another king.

Saunders Island, another sandy neck between two beaches.

Red penguins.

Brown skua, adult, minding a chick in the foreground amidst the sea cabbage.

Dolphin gull and penguin chick.

Falkland steamer ducks, flightless, with chicks in a nest.

Kelp goose, female.

More kings.

Magellanic oystercatcher guarding chick.

Oystercatcher chick.

Upland geese, males in white.

Rock hopper penguins with an ambassador from the macaroni penguins, center.

Wooly penguin.

Whale sketeton, mandibles in front.

Gentoo penguins out for a group swim with the Vavilov in the background.

Gentoo penguins saying what a great swim that was.

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