Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ON BOARD PLANCIUS: October 30, 2010

TO: debi@shearwaterjourneys.com

FROM: Debi Shearwater Cabin 602

OCTOBER 30, 2010

Howdy, Birders,

This is our last day of landings on South Georgia. And, it was to be a
very special day, indeed. In the morning, we landed at Right Whale Bay,
another new site for both Don and I. Right Whale Bay was presumably
named for the large number of right whales once found here. This
stunningly beautiful area has a large King Penguin colony, and fur and
elephant seals, against a backdrop of cascading waterfall. We landed on
a whale bone littered sand beach and hiked a short uphill walk to the
penguin nesting area. The day was overcast. Large groups of King
Penguins were still in molt. "Oakum Boys" constantly called. Finally, we
made our way to the beach. At the water's edge, groups of 50 or so King
Penguins were coming and going in the surf. This entertained us and made
for some great photographic sequences. Hiking back to our landing site,
we noticed a flurry of loud-mouthed skuas, denoting the birth of an
elephant seal. Don and I arrived on the scene about 4 minutes after the
birth. A few lucky passengers witnessed the actual birth. Still, the
skuas were consuming the afterbirth before our eyes. Cameras were
clicking away! Soon it was time to return to our ship.

With immense anticipation, we arrived at Elsehul, our final landing
site. This is a beautiful little harbor with an astonishing array of
wildlife. If one could think of all of South Georgia as a "Fourth of
July Fireworks" display, Elsehul, would be the grand finale of the
fireworks show! It is the pow, pow, pow, explosion of lights and sounds
of grandest show at the end of an already grand show. Here is the only
visitor site on all of South Georgia where colonies of Black-browed and
Gray-headed Albatrosses can be viewed. It is a difficult site to visit,
once the fur seals arrive en mass, and absolutely impossible to hike at
that time of year. In all of my previous visits to South Georgia, I have
only hiked the cliffs, once, in January 2001. And, although the
Shearwater Journeys' charter voyage on Professor Multinovskiy visited
Elsehul in January 2010, we arrived too late in the evening to hike. We
did Zodiac cruise, though. So, this was a very, very special
opportunity. And, Don did not miss it! He returned with awesome images
of the Gray-headed Albatrosses on their nests! In addition, all of us
made a Zodiac cruise to see a few more arriving Macaroni Penguins. Now,
it was time to begin our journey to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Elsehul forever,
Debi Shearwater
On board Plancius; South Georgia Exclusive Voyage

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