Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Falklands Trip: Saunders Island

Hopping along, Rockhopper penguin, Saunders Island
Saunders is a HUGE island (30,000 acres) in comparison to the other two we visited; Carcass and Sea Lion. We stayed at the Settlement (unfortunately another group had already claimed the container at the Neck) which was clean and comfortable. Seven people to one shower actually worked out OK as there was plenty of hot water for all of us. The sheep begging for scraps at the back door in the mornings was a homey touch. We arrived on the island in time to spend the afternoon at the Albatross and Rockhopper col
ony. The exposed cliffs offered wonderful backdrops of deep blue ocean for stunning portraits of the Albatross.

Black-browed Albatross Portrait

The following day we were scheduled to travel out to the Neck but the weather had other ideas. The wind picked up to incredible levels. We attempted to go out to a nearby pond for the black-necked swans but they were too skiddish to get near. I did manage a few shots of a White-tufted grebe. In the afternoon we finally braved a nearby beach. The wind was so intense that even though my pockets were zipped, when I returned home they were full of sand. The juvenile magellanic penguins huddled on the beach with their backs to the sand, longing to swim in the ocean.

Magellanic Penguins braving the sandstorm

The next day we were back to our wonderful weather and we headed out to the Neck immediately after breakfast. On the drive out we encountered a very cooperative red-backed buzzard. One day was not nearly enough to explore all the wonderful nooks and crannies in the cliffs and the beach was so huge that every penguin had an enormous expanse to themselves. I found a
magellanic oystercatcher nest, watched the rockhoppers surfing the waves and cuddled up to a family of gentoo. I wish I could have spent a week there or even longer but our final island was waiting for us and so we said goodbye.

Gentoo colony at the Neck

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