Posted by: tim ellis | October 9, 2005

Antarctica – Friday 19th November, 2004

Awake early this morning as we are supposed to be landing around 7.30- there is a heavy mist and we can barely see the island (Carcass Island). Reports suggest a temperature of around 10C and a wet landing.

I go ashore in the Zodiac ‘Ernest Shackleton’ and we start our wildlife checklist early with Commerson’s Dolphin and Steamer Duck (reputedly it tastes so disgusting it has no predators). The plan is to walk around the bay to the settlement where tea and cookies are waiting – the walk starts well with tussock birds on the beach, upland geese, Magellenic penguin and caracaras (‘Johnny Rook’) all soon sighted – in fact our guides are eager to press on in case we miss out on tea! Unfortunately the weather gets worse as we press on and although we see Oyster catchers, Kelp Geese, Kelp Gulls and Royal Cormorant it soon becomes to wet to stop and take pictures. Disaster also strikes when Irene slips and dislocates her shoulder (she ends up being flown to Port Stanley with the customs official). We finally arrive at the McGill settlement where there is tea, coffee, and a wonderful spread of home-made cakes (and the 4 people who chose not to do the walk!)

Back on ship there is around 3 hours sailing to New Island – it is supposedly through an attractive narrow channel but the fog cover is so dense that there is nothing to see (although it is quite bright so hopefully it will clear).

Indeed it does and once we get to new island we can actually see (some) land. Spook leaves for the ‘long walk’ while I hang on for the shorter trip to the Rockhopper rookery. We get Dolphins again on the trip in – Peale’s this time, and also Night Heron. Once we land we see Falklands thrush and (imported) American cottontail rabbits – and plenty more upland geese. It is still quite misty overland but when we get to the rookery the view was wonderful. Rockhoppers, Royal Cormorant, Black Browed Albatross and Falkland Skua in abundance. When we return to the boat the recap is cancelled as tonight’s dinner is an on deck barbecue!!

This is a wonderful event – the pool has been filled and an ice sculpture is carved as we eat

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