A full day on the schedule today, and what a day! There was sun, there was warmth…and plants and wildlife! The morning started with a hike on Carcass Island, named after a ship. The island is located on the west side of West Falkland Island, the warmer and drier area of the Falkland Islands. There were lots of birds, including nesting Magellanic penguins. At the landing site, we spotted no less than ten Johnny rooks. This is a local name for striated caracaras, and they are kleptomaniacs. The caracaras were accompanied by their “mini-mes,” tussock-birds. Tussock-birds are equally bold and curious, but much smaller and cuter. They had their eyes on our lifejackets, which are too heavy for them to lift.
At Carcass Island, many people participated in our Bio Bliz. Guests took pictures of every living thing they found. Good pictures are used to identify the plant, fungus or creature in question. This is part of a Citizen Science project that monitors the remote sites we frequent.
After a hard morning of work and play, the hotel department arranged a BBQ deck lunch. It really was a nice day! Perfect for hamburgers with all the fixings and sides. For those that wished, veggie burgers were offered. I went with the basic cheeseburger. Well, yes, there was also guacamole on it… delicious!
In the early afternoon, we reached the often mentioned but rarely visited island of Steeple Jason. Sea conditions have to be very good to make a landing. Even with the right conditions, the landing is a bit arduous, requiring explorers to step up onto rocks. So, what is the payoff for the effort? Here, on Steeple Jason, is the world’s largest breeding colony of black-browed albatrosses. Hundreds of thousands of them! On the Zodiac ride from National Geographic Explorer to the island, we spotted dozens of giant birds. They soared, dipped and approached the Zodiac at almost eye-level. Gentoo and rockhopper penguins also breed on the island. We spotted our first rockhoppers, which had folks pretty pumped. Now that this day ends, what about tomorrow?