Monday 20 December 2010

The Free Spirits of Westpoint and New Islands

To sit and watch an albatross is to contemplate the essence of wild freedom. These free spirits inspire a peaceful  introspective experience in the observer. They are magnificent, gentle creatures.
Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that it is you sitting quietly with an albatross. On second thought, forget about closing your eyes. You won’t be able to read this. Wild surf pounds on the shore. Wind sighs through the tussoc.
There is a cacophony of albatross and penguin calls all around you. Watching, listening and photographing, you feel closer to nature than you ever have before. The contentment of the young bird is contagious. The stress of your busy life at home forgotten. You are at peace for the first time in a long time. In some small way you feel grateful to the young bird. The important things in life seem to come in to sharper focus.
We had brilliant weather for two absolutely outstanding landings:  West Point Island in the morning and New Island in the afternoon.  None of us will forget this day. At West Point we had a thirty minute walk to the Albatross and Rockhopper colony.  The spicy smell of gourse permeated the air as we walked through the gently rolling countryside that is very typical of the Falkland Islands.  On the way there were many Upland Geese, as well as, Austral Thrushes, Long-tailed Meadow Larks, Turkey Vultures, Dark-faced Ground Tyrants, Black-chinned Siskins and Correndera Pipits.
Striated Caracaras were ubiquitous on both landings.    At both colonies Rockhopper Penguins were mixed in amongst the albatross; their raucous ecstatic displays filled the air.  Most of the Rockhoppers and Black-browed albatross were sitting on chicks.

At West Point tea was served with lots of scrumptious cakes and cookies. What a wonderful way to start our great adventure in the Southern Oceans.