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Day 11 - November 11, 2009 - Garibaldi Fjord And Glacier

By JJ Apéstegui onboard Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 54°44.2 S, 069°58.6W
Weather: Calm wind, with snow drizzles
Air Temperature: 4C
Sea Temperature: 4C
Pressure: 995 Hpa
Wind: 2Knts, N

It was a beautiful morning in the stunning scenery of the Garibaldi Fjord, very slight breeze, with occasional snow drizzles and a lot of sea ice from last winter still in the water. The landscape was reminiscent of those picture-perfect postcards one can get in winter climes all over the world, but this one was true.

Because of the ice in the Fjord, the Prince Albert II navigated slowly towards Garibaldi Glacier in order to check out the conditions for a Zodiac excursion; soon it was decided that close to the glacier itself was not viable, but a little further back we had some clearing in the ice that would allow us to get the Zodiacs in the water safely.

In the meantime, we had been busily retrieving Common and Magellanic Diving Petrels from the different nooks and crannies around the ship’s decks, where they had come to rest over the course of last night. They were in good shape, but disoriented and found it difficult to take off from our ship once having landed.

Everybody contributed to the task, which is quite simple: you just pick up the bird, since they are quite small, and hold it over the side on your open hand, when they realize they can go, they normally take off flying.

Soon enough it was time to get in the Zodiacs and go on our last excursion of the voyage, an almost magical experience in the calm waters covered in sea-ice. I decided to follow the part of the coastline that was mostly ice-free, and promptly was rewarded by the presence of two pairs of Kelp Geese, the males an immaculate white, with black bill and legs, and the females a beautiful dark brown, in a couple of shades, with yellow bill and legs.

There were also Crested Ducks, and some small passerines, Cinclodes, Austral Thrushes, Dark-faced Ground-tyrants, and surprisingly, Rufous-collared Sparrows, a bird I am more used to seeing in cities than in glaciers. We got good close-up looks at all of them.

Of course there were also the usual Kelp Gulls and Cormorants that would be expected in such areas, and in the second outing we found a flock of Ashy-headed Geese, one last species to add to our list for the expedition.

In the afternoon, Robin West, our Expedition Leader gave an informal talk on the building of the Prince Albert II and later this was followed by the presentation of the now finished photographic DVD by Richard Sidey. An excellent one as usual.

In the early evening we stopped at Puerto Williams for a few minutes to check out of Chile, and then made our way to Ushuaia, hoping to dock there in the evening and have a calm night’s sleep for our last one onboard. I am leaving tomorrow, and will miss the team and our adventures, but look forward to my next occasion, not too far in the future.

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