Wednesday 15 December 2010

Half Moon Island and Yankee Harbour

Today we had wonderful weather to explore two of the South Shetland Islands: incredibly azure skies, warm temperatures and a light breezes. And that made our landing at Half Moon Island a special event: the view across to Livingston Island and its gigantic glaciers flowing down peaks was impressive; the orange lichen-covered cliffs contrasted starkly against the blue sky; and the light was beautiful to see the shiny feathers of recently-preened penguins in all their splendor.

On this crescent-shaped island most penguins in the rookery are chinstraps - but there was a lonely macaroni penguin amidst them, standing out from the crowd because of its stockier body and bright yellow feathers on top of the head - the very ones that gave it its name! Sadly though, we suspect that this bird is on her own and will obviously need a mate for her attendance at the colony to be worthwhile.

After a quick lunch break, we landed on the opposite side of the straits we were in, at Yankee Harbour, a long spit of cobbled stones and terminal moraine material jutting into the sea off  Greenwich Island. We continued to enjoy wonderful, sunny and warm weather, and were happy to find several gentoo penguin chicks still sporting their eggteeth. The weather continued to be idyllic and with the backdrop of Livingston Island (again), the place took on an almost dream-like quality.