Montague Island Day One

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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We spent a weekend at Montague Island, off the coast of New South Wales near Narooma, organised by NatureArt Lab, based in Canberra.  We also went with them to Sabah and this time it was mainly with artists rather than photographers.  I also went there in 1987 when I toured around Australia taking photographs of lighthouses for the book From Dusk Till Dawn.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Humpback whale, Landscape, Lighthouses, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, Sea Eagle, Seal, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We needed to drive down from Canberra and be at the wharf for the boat at 11:15 am, so to eliminate the risk of misadventures we drove down from Canberra the night before.  Late in the afternoon we discovered Handkerchief Beach, south of Narooma.  This is a picture of Montague Island from there (actually properly spelt Montagu but that is a losing battle).  We would be staying near the lighthouse in the lighthouse cottages.

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The lagoon at Handkerchief Beach.

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It appears it gets windy at times.

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A nearby pelican next morning as we are waiting to embark.

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From the boat, underway but still inside Narooma’s Bar, a cormorant is drying its wings.

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Humpback whale going down.

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We were lucky to be escorted by a mother and her calf for most of the journey to Montague.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Humpback whale, Landscape, Lighthouses, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, Sea Eagle, Seal, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Australia, Crested Terns, Humpback whale, Landscape, Lighthouses, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, Sea Eagle, Seal, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Australia, Crested Terns, Humpback whale, Landscape, Lighthouses, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, Sea Eagle, Seal, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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There are many seals on the rocks by the sea.

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And we encountered quite a few lounging around in the water.

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At some distance, sitting on his favourite rock, is this white-bellied sea eagle, in this case with a full crop.  He does not live on the island but flies out every day from the mainland.

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The seals are either Australian or New Zealand Fur Seals.  The New Zealand Fur Seals are smaller and darker and climb further up on the rocks but they are very similar and I’m not going to try to tell them apart.

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Launching into the sea.

The New Zealand Fur Seals have been recently renamed Long-Nosed Fur Seals (in Australia) because people may have thought they were not native to Australia though they live in both places.  They were called New Zealand Fur Seals because they were first described in New Zealand and are still called New Zealand Fur Seals in New Zealand.  This renaming seems to me like pointlessly kowtowing to ignorance so I will continue to refer to them as New Zealand Fur Seals.

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Great Cormorant and Crested Terns, still from the boat.

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A colony of Crested Terns, from the road to the Lighthouse.

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In the late afternoon, we were hit by a huge storm with high winds.

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A little later, walking back from Cottage 1 to Cottage 2 at the back of the cottages, I was blown along by a wind so strong that it was pointless to try to walk against it.

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Some of the terns relocated from the more exposed side of the island to the relative calm in the lee of the cottages and the island.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Humpback whale, Landscape, Lighthouses, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, Sea Eagle, Seal, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Then an hour and a half later, it was clear and calm.  This is a sacred aboriginal initiation site at the end of the island, not accessible to the public.  The rocks represent the whale, the shark and the tortoise.

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(Trivia note:  There are now more than 15,000 images in this blog, not counting the links to nearly 11,000 live music images, and also more than 350,000 words, equivalent to several books).

Greenland Monochromes 2

Greenland. Days 48 to 50. 15th to 17th August 2013.

Arctic Hare, Black and White, Glacier, Greenland, Humpback whale, Landscape, Monochrome, Musk Ox, Photography, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Bear Islands.

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Bear Islands.

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Bear Islands.

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Bear Islands.

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Syd Cap.

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Syd Cap.

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Eskimobugt.

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Eskimobugt.

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Eskimobugt.

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Eskimobugt.

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Eskimobugt.

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Eskimobugt.

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Arctic Hare, Black and White, Glacier, Greenland, Humpback whale, Landscape, Monochrome, Musk Ox, Photography, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Eskimobugt.

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Eskimobugt.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Nordvestfjorden.

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Denmark Strait.

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Denmark Strait.

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So this was the last post for Spitsbergen and Greenland.  In the weekend I’m off down the south coast of New South Wales to cover the Narooma Festival.  Then directly after that I’m off on another photographic trip that lasts two months.  More on that tomorrow.

Nordvestfjorden

Nordvestfjorden, Scoresby Sund, Greenland. Day 49. 16th August 2013.

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In our last afternoon in Greenland we glided round Nordvestfjorden in zodiacs, admiring the icebergs.

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The kayaking group from our ship.

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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Greenland, Icebergs, Landscape, Nature, Nordvestfjord, Photography, Scoresby Sund, seascape, Travel, Wilderness .

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And finally back to the ship, from whence we sailed for Iceland.

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In Denmark Strait we encountered a huge pod of maybe one hundred humpback whales.  Denmark Straight is between Greenland and Iceland but it is Greenland you can see in the background.

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So, as we leave Greenland at the end of our Arctic wilderness expedition, a humpback whales bids us farewell….

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(Three monochrome posts still to come)

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(Trivia note:  The blog has just passed 100,000 views.  View number 100,000 came from the US of either Eskimobugt or Bear Islands & Syd Kap).

24th March: Antarctica (Argentine Islands – Afternoon – Licensed to Krill)

After lunch we headed off again in the zodiacs.

Fur seal preening

Crabeater seal

GPS Location. (green arrow)

Humpback whale tail and fairy tern

This was to be the day of the Humpback Whale as we continuously tracked humpback whales from our zodiacs. There were evidently large congregations of krill. We would follow the Antarctic Terns circling overhead, then a big patch of bubbles might rise to the surface and shortly after the humpbacks themselves would appear, sometimes quite close to the zodiacs.

GPS Location. (Green arrow)  At least as I write this, the google map is a bit misleading in that the  satellite images were taken in winter and there’s a big iceberg here – so ignore that.  All following images of the whales were taken close by, roughly two kilometres north of Vernadsky Station.

This is the underside of the whale's head and at the right, the lower jaw (the whale is on its side)

Whale tails.  The patterns on the underside of the tail are unique to individuals.

Two whales going down

There are three whales here. One has just come up with a great gulp of krill.

Antarctic tern and humpback whale. This is the head and the blowhole, perhaps looking something like a riveted armour-plated submarine from the American civil war.

As you can see from the light, it is now quite late in the afternoon

Eventually, it was getting late, we turned back and made for the ship.  Had we stayed for just another five minutes, I would have been able to show you a breaching, a whale soaring into the air, full body-length.  Altogether, a most amazing day. Some of the expedition staff who had been on many voyages to Antarctica said they had seen nothing like it.

A small iceberg eroded into a dramatic shape

24th March: Antarctica (Argentine Islands – Morning)

Having arrived in Vernadsky Station, we had several days to explore the surrounding area while the ship unloaded the supplies for the station for the winter. Here are some of the views from the zodiac:

Seal, variety not recorded

Gentoo Penguins

Blue Eyed Cormorant - but it's a juvenie so the eyes aren't yet blue

Maybe a cannonball fired in an intergalactic war ...

Ice, rocks and snow. The shape of the snow on the rock reminds me of cromagnon cave painting of wild cattle from Southern France some 20,000 or so years old.

A couple of humpback whales, massive enough in themselves though dwarfed by the scale of the landscape

Going down ...

Just a bit of tail

We’d been out for maybe an hour and a half and now came in for lunch. The images from the afternoon will follow in the next post.