Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rockstars and Little Brown Jobs (Nov. 9)

We made landfall for the first time today! When we awoke, we had finally reached one of our three long awaited destinations: the Falkland Islands. It is no wonder the British claimed and settled these islands over two hundred years ago; they strongly resemble the grassy hilltops of the Scottish Highlands! They must have arrived and thought, hmmm I bet I can put a bunch of sheep here!

Greg looking over West Point Island.

The small islands in the background are the Jason Islands.

The endemic LBJ, the Cobb's Wren.

The other endemic, the Falklands Steamer-Duck.

We landed on two of the islands: Carcass Island and West Point. The morning and afternoons on both islands were spent walking about looking at the various flora and fauna of the islands, mainly birds... Jason was quite happy. He was thrilled to see the two endemics (birds that live only in the Falklands). One was an LBJ the other was a flightless duck that I am surprised could even walk because he was so fat!  We did see three different colonies of penguins, all different species.  My favorites were the Rockhopper penguins, which were nested among hundreds of albatrosses.  Many albatrosses were flying overhead, some only inches above our heads, as they tried to land among the crowded rocks!  These albatrosses fly gracefully at sea sometimes for years before returning to land. Because of this, they are particularly bad at landings, which makes them quite comical!  The rockhoppers climb cliffs out of the sea to nest on a rock cliff hundreds of feet above the water.  They also have little yellow feathers above their red eyes that look like golden eye brows and an attitude that seems to say, "I'm fat and I like it!" Very simply stated, they got spunk!  
All in all, I am happy to watch penguins and albatrosses, the other birds take some patience as I wait for the groups of people to find them in their binoculars and look for a tiny brown bird flitting around in a tussock of grass. Jason is at home of course!  I enjoyed walking around and savored being ashore as we will spend Saturday and Sunday at sea on our way to South Georgia Island.  Each time we left the island by zodiac, we were greeted by dolphins that were only too happy to surf in our wake! Tomorrow we will arrive at Stanley, which is the major settlement and bustling metropolis home to....2000 to 2500 people.

Rockhopper Penguins.

Black-browed Albatross.


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