And so begins my Antarctic deployment for the 2012-2013 season. I should note that while I am writing as I go, I’ll have no internet connection this trip, so everything will be posted after I return to civilization.
I am writing this blogpost from a very comfortable hotel room in the Falkland Islands, err Malvinas. It’s the place where the Brits and Argentines had a conflagration in 1982, call it what you like. It has been a very interesting day and half here.
I arrived late yesterday afternoon. We landed at the airstrip in the military base (no photos allowed) then drove into town on the gravel road that was paved in parts but still hard on the kidneys! We drove past several landmine fields (well marked!) but sadly did not stop for photos (apparently that is a tacky tourist thing to do).
Very quickly after checking into our surprisingly stylish hotel we went to a Magellanic penguin colony. As you may remember from my previous trips to Chile and South Africa Magellanics are burrowing penguins; they dig holes! Chicks were hatched about a month or so ago. We got to see a few still in the burrows! I can safely say that this is the first wildlife site I have been to that also features the potential for landmines! I was assured that the birds are perfectly safe because they are too light to set off the mines.
We also saw some lovely night herons breeding on a stack of rocks
And some blue eyed shag, but sadly those were a bit too far away to photograph
The next day we went on a tour out to Volunteer Point. It features, Magellanic, gentoo, and king (proper penguins!) penguin breeding colonies.
Our tour guide was Nobby (no joke that was his name). Nobby was born on the islands in the late 1940s and he and his young family survived the nastiness of 1982. He gave us a unique perspective on the conflict as we drove past important landmarks (destroyed helicopters, mine fields, farms that had been taken over by troops). We didn’t stop for pictures at any of these places- sorry. Needless to say reminders of 1982 can be found all over the island. Most years some lovely chaps from Zimbabwe come out here and work on clearing the mines- it is rather slow work. It was a great day filled with lots of Island insight…now it is off to board the vessel.