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Day 2 - March 4, 2011 - At sea en route to the Falkland Islands

By Will Wagstaff, Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 53 57 3S, 063 57 9W
Weather: A bright and sunny day with a moderate northerly wind
Air Temperature: 10C


We awoke to find land in the shape of Staten Island still visible behind us as we headed north east towards the Falklands. As it was a sea day and many guests had travelled long distances yesterday. There was not a lot of activity in The Restaurant when I had breakfast.

On deck a short while later, some of the guests who were exploring the ship joined me to watch the many birds either following the ship or just passing by. The sharply contrasting black and white Black-browed Albatrosses were by far the most numerous birds we could see, although they tended to keep their distance. The Southern Giant Petrels however, were putting on a great show of their gliding ability. Time and time again they were coming up behind the ship, only to hang in the wind for a few seconds at the stern before zooming off again to have another go. It seemed to be great fun as they were still there later in the day.

Other species we saw included Great and Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrels and lots of Wilson’s Storm Petrels dabbing their feet in our wake. The one large albatross in the area was not very cooperative but I was eventually able to get a better view on some of its closer approaches where we could see that it was a Northern Royal Albatross, a reasonably uncommon bird in this area as it was a long way from its New Zealand breeding grounds.

As I was lecturing at 10.00, I had to tear myself away from all this birdlife and head for The Theatre to present my lecture on the wildlife of the Falkland Islands. I started with a short section about some of the seabirds we would hope to see as we made our way to this most amazing archipelago. The main body of the lecture covered many of the birds, flowers and mammals that can be found around the Falklands throughout the year. As penguins are such a feature of the coastline of the islands, I spent some time talking about them and the Black-browed Albatrosses we would be visiting tomorrow. My subtitle for the talk is that the Falklands are a penguin’s idea of heaven, as five species breed on the islands with others turning up as rare visitors, making it one of the best places in the world to see this family.

At 1145 it was time for the ‘First Timers’ cocktail party in The Theatre where, as Jarda put it, it was our chance to meet those who had come on board for the first time. It was a pleasant way to end the morning.

During lunch in The Restaurant I could see the Northern Royal Albatross was still following the ship and was much closer now that I had put my camera away. Following lunch we had the mandatory Zodiac briefing followed by our first destination briefing. Robin first went through how we use the Zodiac boats to get us in and out of the amazing places we will be visiting and how to make best and safest use of these boats. He then gave us lots of information about our planned landings tomorrow at West Point Island and Saunders Islands, which both lie to the west of the main islands in the Falklands.

The last of the daytime activities was the lecture by our photographer Kristine at 5pm where she gave lots of useful advice on techniques for photographing the wildlife and landscapes we were going to be visiting. It certainly whetted our appetites to try to get similar shots to those she showed us.

At the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail party in The Theatre that evening, Captain Golubev was first introduced by Robin before taking the stage and introducing his senior officers who also came up and gave a little background to their work before they all welcomed everyone on board. This was followed by the Captain’s Welcome Dinner in The Restaurant, which was enjoyed by all as the sun set on a reasonably calm evening in the South Atlantic.

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