Voyage Journal 7904 Day 3

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Day 3 - February 11, 2009 - West Point Island & Carcass Island In The Falkland Islands

By Andrew Marshall

Weather and noon position:
Air Temperature: 11˚C
Sea Temperature: 7˚C
Pressure:  993 hPa
Wind:  SW 20 knots
Co-ordinates:  51˚ 19’ 6” S, 60˚ 40’ 6” W

Looking out the porthole this morning, a beautiful clear sky was sighted above the rolling grass and tussock-covered hillsides of the Falklands. We had arrived. The first landing was full of adventure, as the winds were working a chop up at the gangway, but thanks to the expert attention of the staff and Zodiac drivers, everyone was transported to the shore in good time. Some of us were even lucky to be accompanied by Commerson's Dolphins, darting and weaving in the surf and swell and seeming to enjoy surfing the bow wave the Zodiacs were creating as they made their way to the shore of West Point Island.

Once on the shore, we had the luxury of choosing between walking to the Black-browed Albatross and Rockhopper colony located on the other side of the island, or taking a Landrover ride, which was an adventure in itself. The wind proved to be an absolute blessing as it gave the albatross the chance to show all of us their incredible ability to soar in the currents the wind was creating as it streamed up the cliffs of Devil's Nose, on top of which the colony is located. The full sunshine and proximity of viewing allowed for excellent sightings and photography, and there was many a photographer that was left with a beaming smile after the opportunities that the morning presented.

Back at the settlement in the lee of Black Bog Hill, a fine English tea and cakes were served in a setting probably now more English than England itself. The Falkland Islanders have developed their own accent, which is both interesting and pleasant to listen to. It is fascinating to hear them speak of their way of life on these isolated and remote islands. After this fine serving, it was time to head back to the Prince Albert II for another fine serving of more food and drink this time with an Asian flavour.

We were a little concerned that the afternoon landing would be abandoned if the wind did not abate, but some excellent logistical adaptability by Iggy, our Expedition Leader, meant the landing at Carcass Island proceeded as planned. Those of us who were brave enough to take on the two-hour return hike to the settlement and back were landed first. On the hike, several of the diverse species of birds present on the island were spotted, including the flightless steamer duck, upland geese, kelp geese, and the Falklands kelp gull, just to name a few. Nearer the shore, we all obtained excellent sightings of both the Magellanic Penguins and the Gentoo Penguins, both at their respective colonies and going to and from the water. It was fantastic to see them exiting the water onto the fine white sand beach and then heading through the tussock mounds before walking up onto the grass and through to their colony.

Before heading to The Restaurant for another delicious presentation, we heard about tomorrow's planned activities at the evening recap. Chris gave us some interesting insight about how the geology of the area dictates what areas penguins can colonise. Claudia provided information about how the Albatross manage to 'fly without flapping' in a process referred to as dynamic soaring. We all took great interest and if it wasn't for the dinner bell being rung, I think we would all still be in the lounge listening to her answer questions on these fascinating animals.

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