Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sunny Saunders Island

9 January 2010
About midnight, last night, we anchored off Saunders Island, the second
largest offshore island within the Falkland Islands. Today, we spent a
full eight hours on this very scenic and hospitable island, landing at
The Neck. Highlights were many: close-up views of Rockhopper Penguins,
Imperial Shags and Black-browed Albatrosses on their nests. Magellanic
Penguins were poking their heads out of their nesting burrows, while a
few stately King Penguins stood on the periphery of the Gentoo Penguin
colony. Fluffy brown skua chicks easily hide in the vegetation. Kelp and
Dophin Gulls greated us at the beach, along with Striated Caracaras. The
island's owner, David Pole-Evans chatted with us from his Land Rover.

After yet another one of Marcelo's fabulous lunches, we returned to the
island for several afternoon hikes. Long hikers went to the lake which
was covered with waterfowl. Black-necked Swans, Silvery Grebe, Silver
Teal, and two White-winged Coots were among the many species found.
Another hiking group scaled the summit of Mount Harston. The Captain of
our ship joined this hike. Birders were rewarded with a sighint of half
a dozen Rufous-chested Dotterels. Meanwhile, the slower hikers spread
out along both coasts. All groups were rewarded with superb views of
surf riding Commersons' Dolphins. Warm and worn out, all returned to the
landing site only to discover that the Striated Caracaras had had a
field day with the boots and socks that we had left behind! I arrived in
time to see on caracara carrying off a blue sock, while three others
pulled at the shoestrings of one of the boots! It was quite a comedy.

Tonight, we are headed for South Georgia Island, undoubtedly the single
most important sub-Antarctic island in the world. Again, we are escorted
by small parties of Commerson's Dolphins. The first Greater Shearwaters
appeared. and we ended the day with the "green flash." Seas are a bit
rolly, but there is no wind or whitecaps.

We can only imagine the treasures we shall discover at South Georgia.

Albatrosses forever,
Debra Shearwater

No comments: