Day 10 |
Feb 03, 2011

By by Ken Knowles, Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: S 56◦01’, W 39º86’
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 4.3C
Sea Temperature:
Pressure: 1008
Wind: 26.7 km

For many guests, a day at sea provides a chance to re-group, take in some lectures and enjoy the amenities of the ship. For a birder, a day at sea is as exciting as any day on land. I was up early and could immediately see that the number of birds around the ship had increased substantially. A constant stream of Antarctic Prions passed just above the water, the beautiful Cape Petrels soared in the ship’s wake, and several Wandering Albatrosses effortlessly kept up with the Prince Albert ll. But I was after more.

The reward wasn’t long in coming – a single Snow Petrel, pure as its name suggests, made a ghostly appearance. This is my favourite Antarctic bird, a magical petrel that Apsley Cherry-Garrard on Scott’s expedition called “The archangel of Antarctica”. It shares the same beauty and mythical status as the Ivory Gull of the Arctic.

The morning on-board activities began with Claudia’s timely introduction to all of the climate and weather events that combine to make the Antarctic the special place that it is. Long may it remain so.

I sacrificed some birding time on deck to hear Christian’s overview of the life and work of photographer Frank Hurley. Christian showed that there was more to this artist than the famous Shackleton expedition. From Christian’s perspective he was a visionary in doing what we now all do in Photoshop, despite the criticism he suffered at the time for his controversial editing.

Inspired by Hurley’s dedication I went back to the deck to try for the ultimate bird photos – storm petrels and diving petrels. Hurley would have laughed at my results, but I did have an unusual sighting – a guest in the outdoor hot tub on Deck 6, happily bouncing around with the roll of the ship, apparently oblivious to both the cold and the surf.

I was scheduled to do my penguin lecture in the afternoon and as the guests arrived in The Theatre, the roll of the Prince Albert ll made all of us waddle in a semi-penguin fashion.

The Venetian Society cocktail hour honoured our repeat guests and was followed by the Venetian dinner, a special Silversea salute to our many friends from around the world. It was noted that a record number of guests were present in the Observation Lounge, despite the rolling seas, as we traced in reverse order the open boat journey of Shackleton, and marvelled once again at the heroics of these supermen.