Sunday, 7 November 2010

A very good start in the Falklands!

After 4 days at sea, we were happy to arrive at West Point Island in West Falklands. We got there at 6am and by 7am we had already started with our very first and much anticipated landing. West Point home to the Napier family who have run a sheep farming operation on the island for many years. They are environmentalists as well and have done a fantastic job in reintroducing the Tussoc Grass in the areas that are not grazed and that have bird colonies. A tradition for many years at the Napier's home is to invite all of us in for tea and cakes.

It takes a pleasant 30 minutes to walk the mixed colony of Rockhopper Penguins and Black-browed Albatrosses. It is interesting to note that the two species are completely intermixed in the colony and only occasionally interact. These interactions are usually rather aggressive with lots of pecking and squawking. We had most of the morning to admire the two species at close quarters.

Over lunch we repositioned the Fram to our second landing for the day at New Island. New Island is a nature reserve managed by the New Island Conservation Trust. The trust is working to rehabilitate the island back to a more natural state.

The colony we visited had breeding Black-browed Albatrosses, Rockhopper Penguins- similar to West Point- but also had King Cormorants.

Some pairs had already laid their eggs but others were still courting. Behind the colony was a small pond, and on our way back to the ship we were greeted by a family of Upland Geese- the gander, the goose, and their eight goslings. We were fascinated by the marvellous views of seabirds we had today. For many it was the first experience of the spectacle of a seabird colony.

After we returned to the Fram, she set off for Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. All on the Fram went to bed with a smile on their face today!