We left Ushuaia on the 26th of February and arrived at the Falklands on the 28th. The South Atlantic is notoriously rough. Even though we didn't encounter horrible seas, I discovered that I would be much happier if I put the Scopolamine patch to work. I did not suffer any of the potential negative side-effects. Jim has no trouble with sea sickness.
We spent two days in the Falklands and visited three sites: West Point Island, Saunders Island, and Stanley, the capital city. Jim and I had visited West Point island and Stanley before on our Antarctica trip, but the conditions were very different this time. For one thing we were travelling in a small group rather than with 500 others so we didn't overcrowd any site.
The Falklands had a place on the world stage in 1982 when Argentina invaded the islands. For a summary of the conflict check The Falklands War: An Overview. Argentina is still rattling sabers about the Falklands, especially now that there is a likelihood that oil will be discovered in the area. At the time of our trip the Argentine government was putting restrictions on shipping calling at the Falklands without first getting permission from Argentina!
The life vests for the Zodiacs were very compact. I assume that had they been needed, they would have inflated to a requisite size. We never found out.
Every time we left the ship, staff members buckled us into the vests to ensure it was done properly! Subsequent experiences with these vests has shown that there is a knack to putting them on.
These birds are still fledging.
Penguins and albatross are companionable in this location with adjacent nesting areas.
This not-so-little one is begging its parent to regurgitate dinner. Yum!
This was a wet landing. I was dismayed to learn that the boots that I had brought for such landings were not tall enough. The program materials stated that 10" would be sufficient, but it was not. I squished through this visit. The ship had a stash of knee-high boots for hapless travelers, and I found a pair that almost fit.
The adult bird is beginning to molt and can't even fish for itself let alone two demanding youngsters. They, on the other hand, are fully fledged and can fend for themselves.
The large dark bird to the left of the picture is a Striated Caracara. They are attracted to a variety of objects and one swiped a walkie-talkie from our guides while we were eating. Hilarity ensued as the staff struggled to retrieve it.
All the molting birds that we saw -- and there were many of them -- looked just as scruffy as these. The ground is littered with shed feathers, which looked almost like snow. Even feathers that are black on the bird look white on the ground.
Many, if not most, of the Falkland Islands are inhabited by sheep and Saunders Island is no exception. Sheep eat the native tussock grass wherever they can reach it, and it only survives in places where the sheep cannot go. Residents pay more attention to preserving this critical habitat in recent years and we saw preserves protected by fences.
Ruddy-headed Geese are similar to the females of the much-more-common Upland Geese.
We met our first King Penguins here. They are dignified-looking birds in general, but every now and again one will erupt into a raucous "look at me" display.
Shortly after I took this picture, this group began to move toward the beach. The noisy bird marched in the lead nodding his (or her) head like a drum major. I wondered if the call was a signal of some sort.
As on West Point Island, there was a hike to get to the areas where birds were found. Most of the walking was on a VERY windy beach. It was OK walking with the wind, but as soon as you turned around blowing sand began to flay your face. I ended up walking backwards to return to the landing area.
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