Saturday, March 22, 2008

South Georgia

We had three great days on South Georgia! We made 5
out of 6 landings, including a beautiful, sunny day
with thousands of King Penguins at Salisbury Plain and
a rainy day with the Macaroni Penguins at Cooper Bay.

Did see Sooty Albatross, Atlantic Petrel, Gray Petrel,
and Spectacled Petrel today.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two Day Crossing the Drake

March 13, 2008

Greetings from Professor Molchanov in the Weddell Sea, en route to the South Orkney Islands!

By all standards of measure, we had a very easy two day crossing of the Drake Passage! One great adventure on our nearly 3,500 mile voyage. Our first landing was at Brown Bluff, a continental landing for those wanting to “tick” their 7th, and whitest continent in the world. Departing Zodiacs soon encountered a severe turn in the weather, with strong westerly winds forcing us to abort this landing. Some lucky folks did get their feet on the continent, though. Icebergs and bergy bits were drifting all around, but everyone returned very safely to the ship, in the hands of our very capable Expedition Staff and Russian crew. The morning and the evening ended with the most lovely of albatrosses, the dreamy Light-mantled Sooty.

Next we pushed into the Weddell Sea in search of Emperor Penguins without luck. Several delicate Snow Petrels drifted along spectacular tabular ice. Some Chinstrap Penguins were on ice floes. Due to the strong winds, the ice blocked our landing on Snow Hill Island. Nevertheless, all of the passengers gathered on the bridge with our Russian sailors to enjoy the ice, before we turned around.

This morning, we made a fantastic landing on Paulet Island, surely one of the favorites of Antarcitca. The beach was covered in Antarctic Fur Seals, two Chinstrap Penguins, and small parties of Adelie Penguins, with Brown Skuas patroling overhead, and occassional Southern Giant Petrels. It was a lovely morning, even though it was -5C we all stayed for the entire three hours. Reluctantly, we returned to our ship — surounded now by icebergs of all sizes and shape, penguins and fur seals on the beach, and the snow dusted scree slopes of Paulet — we embraced the full Antarctic scene in all its glory!

Hope all is well. We check in again in a few days.

All the best,

Sunday, March 9, 2008


March 9, 2008

Debra Love Shearwater

Images are clickable to a larger size.

March 4 - 5, Tue/Wed: My travel companion, Don Doolittle, and I departed San Francisco International Airport at 11 am, changed planes in Dallas/Fort Worth, and arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina about 10:30 am the next day after an uneventful, if tiring flight. We hired an official taxi to the Holiday Inn located in the Puerto Madero barrio of the city. (78 pesos) Headquartering ourselves at this hotel put us within easy walking or a short cab ride to all of the places that we wanted to visit.

Both of us are very familiar with this vibrant and bustling city, as it was my fifth and Don’s fourth visit to Buenos Aires. We headed straight to Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. It was quite cloudy and humid. We dodged several rain showers, but nevertheless enjoyed observing some familiar birds— Rufous Hornero, strutting in the open, confiding Chalk-browed Mockingbirds, cackling Monk Parakeets, Picui Ground Doves, and Picazuro Pigeons. During the rain showers, we enjoyed watching many birds bathing in puddles on the wide paths, including some six Guira Cuckoos in one tree, Rufous-bellied Thrushes, and two Plumbeous Rails! Heading back to the hotel in the late afternoon, we enjoyed a great lunch at one of BA’s many sidewalk cafes, La Barra at Avenida Cordoba and San Martin. We retired to our room early to relax and catch up on some needed sleep.

March 6, Thu: Rising early, we again headed straight for Costanera Sur. This time, we took the trail that led to the Rio de la Plata River. Many Double-collared Seedeaters, Hooded Siskins, and Black and Rufous Warbling Finches were feeding on weedy stalks along the path. The wide, muddy brown river was devoid of birds, save a few Olivaceous Cormorants and one Kelp Gull, although soaring overhead on a thermal were 40+ Wood Storks and one Roseate Spoonbill. Gray-breasted Martins began alighting on branches as yet another rain shower fell.

In the deep resaca, two Gray-necked Wood Rails meandered in the deep dark shadows of the shoreline, while a Narrow-billed Woodcreeper quietly made its way along the tree trunks. About 2:30 pm, we left the reserve to get some lunch at the same café we had visited yesterday.
With the weather looking very foreboding, we decided to visit some of our favorite places in this very European city of so many flavors—Florida Avenue for some shopping, Café Tortoni (established as a hang out for artists and politicos in 1859), Casa Rosada, and a stroll along the waterfront of the restored Puerto Madero.

Birds we saw during our two days in Buenos Aires: Rufous Hornero, Monk Parakeet, Black-hooded Parakeet, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Picui Ground Dove, Eared Ground Dove, Picazuro Pigeon, Rufous-bellied Thrush, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Bay-winged Cowbird, Red-crested Cardinal, Green-barred Woodpecker, Greater Yellowfinch, Masked Yellowthroat, House Wren, Double-collared Seedeater, Shining Cowbird, Greater Kiskadee, Southern Lapwing, Black and Rufous Warbling Finch, Brown-chested Martin, Crested Caracara, Guira Cuckoo, Grayish Saltator, Olivaceous Cormorant, Plumbeous Rail, Hooded Siskin, Roadside Hawk, American Kestrel, Red-backed Hawk, Great Egret, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Tropical Kingbird, White-lined Tanager, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Kelp Gull, Black-capped Warbling Finch, White-crested Eleania, and Golden-billed Saltator.