Baily Head, Deception Island
And what an amazing beach it was! Over 100,000 pair of Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica) return to Baily Head each year to raise their chicks, making this spot one of Birdlife International's Important Bird Areas (IBA). With it's large swells and breaking waves, Baily Head is considered by some to be Antarctica's most dangerous but worthwhile landings. However we had good weather and conditions so per our skipper, ours was just a "sporty landing."
One one side of the massive rock outcrop is a small horseshoe-shaped cove with a dramatic steep slope which leads up to the massive colony above. The diminutive little penguins trudging upward through the snow to reach their mates - on a warm day the snow gives way, making the accent relatively easy... on a cold day the snow turns to ice and the slope more of a slick toboggan run.
The other side of the outcrop boasts a long beach of black sand with a long gentle slope and a winding trail of penguins marching to and fro with purpose. The beach is dotted with large chunks of blue ice which drift ashore and give predators a nifty spot to hide.
|Leopard seals only look cute and cuddly|
|Skua with a stolen penguin egg|
|Southern Giant Petrel|
|Snowy Sheathbill is the clean up crew of the penguin colony|
|A leopard seal rolls off a rock after a failed attempt to catch a penguin|