Berkeley Sound

6th November 2015. Berkeley Sound, East Falkland, Falkland Islands.

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A final view of Sea Lion Island as we fly away.  looking towards the south end of the island, I think.

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And this is Stanley, only town in the Falklands.

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One of the ships in Stanley Harbour.  Fortunately, not the one we travelled on to South Georgia.

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We headed off overland in four wheel drive vehicles to the southern shores of Berkely Sound, north of Stanley, in response to a reported sighting of a stray Northern Rockhopper penguin. The northern variety has much longer yellow head plumes and its most numerous location is at Gough Island in the Tristan da Cunha group.  However, the penguins we saw were the more common Southern Rockhoppers, though someone else in our party caught a brief glimpse of a northern one.

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Southern rockhopper, as for all following penguins.

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Cochon Island.

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Looking north, across Berkeley Sound.

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Distant sea view with Cochon Island.

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Penguin Colonies (Pebble Island)

2nd November 2015. Pebble Island, Falkland Islands.

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Gentoo Penguin (also the next five images).

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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Macaroni Penguins, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Turkey vultures, Upland Goose, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Macaroni Penguins, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Turkey vultures, Upland Goose, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Macaroni Penguins, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Travel, Turkey vultures, Upland Goose, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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These penguins are upland geese.

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And those distant shapes are nesting giant petrels.  Not to be closely approached or they desert their nests.

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Two-banded Plover.

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Cara cara.

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Flightless steamer ducks (The Falklands also has flying steamer ducks).

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Turkey vulture drying its wings.

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I think a juvenile kelp gull.

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Rockhopper penguins en masse.

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Rockhopper penguin and egg.

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A couple of macaroni penguins in the rockhopper colony.

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Rockhopper penguin.

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Rockhopper penguns near the top of the cliff, walking up towards their colony.

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Looking down to where the come in and out of the sea as the waves go crashing in.

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A longer view, also showing them coming up the cliff.

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Nearing the top, the colony in the left distance.

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These are gentoos, with a large land-based penguin in the background, otherwise known as a sheep.

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Pebble Island Penguins and Skuas

1st November 2015. Pebble Island, Falkland Islands.

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I’m about to start posting on wildlife in the Falklands but first a brief account of some computer misadventures that has delayed this post. Feel free to skip this bit if you’re not interested or it’s too technical.

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Computer Issues and Solutions

Ten days ago, my computer died, suddenly and completely. The CPU (the chip that powers it) was dead. The computer was six years old and replacing the chip didn’t seem enticing. New ones are no longer available for that motherboard and a second hand chip from EBay might prove to not work. The motherboard was also incompatible with Windows 10, so an upgrade to a modern machine was in order.

As it happens, I wrote an article on that for the Canberra Photographic Society. so it was fairly easy to work out what I needed. Some of my files may be 50MB out of the camera and when I combine multiple images for panoramas, focus stacking or HDR, the files get very large. Taking the images is just the start. The processing task is not to be underestimated and since I process a lot of images I don’t want to be forever sitting round waiting for something to happen. So my requirement is for pretty heavy-duty image processing and this is not a typical PC.

I retained the case, power supply and hard drives. I purchased new motherboard (Gigabyte Z170X – Gaming 7), CPU (Intel Core i7 6700K), CPU cooler (Thermaltake Riing Silent), video card (Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1060) and 32GB RAM (GSkills Ripjaws V DDR4). This is actually a previous generation motherboard and CPU (from about six months ago) so I was able to save a bit of money with little loss in processing speed. I had also bought a new 30 inch NEC professional monitor a couple of months previously (at half price) and may in due course get a couple of M.2 SSDs (3 to 5 times faster than normal SSDs) to speed up the machine further for bootup and for the Lightroom catalogue and cache.

I ordered the PC components and ended up with a new working PC except with one “minor” problem – no access to my images because when the CPU died, it took out my data drive. Even without buying two more M.2 SSDs, my PC has six hard drives – an SSD for startup and applications, an extra drive for non-photographic storage and a RAID 10 array of four drives (i.e. my data drive). The RAID array has two pairs of drives that mirror each other for safety and each pair simultaneously writes across each drive (called striping). This makes it both fast and easy to recover when a drive fails. The problem was that when the CPU died, it knocked two of the drives out of the RAID.   I was unable to rebuild it, even after a clean reinstall of Windows.

So I’m starting again from a data drive with no images.  All my files should be backed up on my Drobo (a five-disk RAID-like backup system), so I should be able to restore them.  I restored the Falkland Images to a local drive a few days ago to use in generating this post and I’ve just started recovering all images from backup to my data drive.  This will take another day or so.

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Pebble Island

OK, back to the Falklands.

I haven’t had any problems with jet lag in the past. Partly this may be sleeping on the plane to key my metabolism to the destination. But the 55-hour transfer was just too much to end up fresh at the other end. So I was very lucky that I had personalised tours of the island awaiting me with Montana Short and his four wheel drive vehicle. These images are from the morning after I arrived on the plane.

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Montana driving over a boggy stream.

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We were heading towards the South of the island.  I think this must be Elephant Bay.  No elephants so they had probably all swum out to sea.  And what you see is typical Falkland islands rainforest, often several inches high.  If you click on it you go to a larger than usual image.

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Magellanic Penguin peeking out of its burrow with upland geese in the background.

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A pair of Magellanic Penguins from the same burrow.

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Gentoo Penguin calling out to the gods beyond the sky. … Or perhaps advertising for a mate.

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… Or maybe calling for the skuas to stay away.

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Here’s a Skua, hovering over the penguins, looking for an unattended egg.

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This egg is safe.

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Perhaps returning after a fishing expedition.

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Now this is a colony of Rockhopper Penguins, again with a Skua patrolling overhead.

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Let’s do the time warp again…

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A rockhopper on a cliff.

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It can get quite territorial when someone wanders close to a nest, even if they have to do so to get to theirs.

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… and then it can be on for young and old….
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Skua on patrol.
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The last laugh? Two skuas with a stolen egg.
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Sea Lion Island

6th to 10th November 2015. Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands. Temporary post. Images only. Minimal descriptions for images.

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Dolphin Gulls, Elephant seals, Imperial Cormorant, Kelp Geese, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, Silvery Grebe, Steamer duck, Travel, Wildlife

Silvery Grebe.

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Magellanic Penguin.

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Kelp Geese.

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Elephant Seals.

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Elephant Seals.

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Elephant Seals.

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Imperial Cormorants.

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Imperial Cormorants.

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Dolphin Gulls, Imperial Cormorants and photographers.

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Steamer ducks, probably flightless Falklands variety.

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Kelp and rocks.

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Rockhopper penguins.

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Rockhopper Penguin.

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Pebble Island

31st October to 6th November 2015. Pebble Island, Falkland Islands. Temporary post. Images only. Minimal descriptions for images.

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Striated caracara.

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Turkey vulture.

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Giant Petrel.

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Rockhopper penguins.

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Rockhopper penguins.

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Caracara and stolen Rockhopper egg.

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Imperial Cormorant.

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Imperial Cormorants.

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Imperial Cormorants.

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Speckled Teals.

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Wreckage of Argentinian fighter.

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Striated Caracara.

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Macaroni Penguins.

5th April: Falkland Islands (West Point Island) – Abducted by Aliens

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Eeerraaark, eeeerraaarkk!

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Penny the Ground-Painted was always telling anyone who would listen about being abducted by aliens and she had the silver bracelets on her ankles to prove it.  Erica the Red-Eyed was not impressed.

Erica lives at 3,000 steps up in Noisy Delirium Circle.  It’s a long walk up from the harbor frontage.

  • Trudge, trudge, hop, hop, wait for a crowd to gather then big hop, trudge, trudge …
  • Ethelbert the Elegantly Absurd:  “This is my patch.  What are you doing on my patch? You can’t have it.”; Erica: “I’m just passing through.  I live at 3,000 steps up in Noisy Delirium Circle, about 40 steps from the end of Sky Mountain Street.  Let me through.”
  • another couple of steps …
  • Dionysius the Disheveled:  “This is my patch.  What are you doing on my patch? I won’t let you take it.”; Erica: “I’m just passing through.  I live at 3,000 steps up in Noisy Delirium Circle, about 40 steps from the end of Sky Mountain Street.  Let me through.”
  • another couple of steps …
  • Ignatius the Punk:  “This is my patch.  What are you doing on my patch? It’s not yours.”; Erica: “I’m just passing through.  I live at 3,000 steps up in Noisy Delirium Circle, about 40 steps from the end of Sky Mountain Street.  Let me through.”
  • And so it goes …

Eventually, Erica reaches her elite apartment high in the sky.  It was actually built by Eustace the soarer and Wendy the wave-kisser when Noisy Delerium Circle was still called Black-Browed Hilltop.  According to rumour, Wendy was last seen going for a dive behind a fishing boat and Eustace now hangs out in a different part of the City, often disrupting other couples by trying to hassle for a new partner.

Erica’s young son, Diogenes the Slightly Deranged, is now bigger than her.  “What’s for dinner?”  “Fish.” Lots of noisy celebration of the return.  “What’s for dinner?”  “Fish.” Heads down and screeching sounds. “What’s for dinner?”  “Fish.”  This goes on for a while.

Our legends tell of the giant black were-penguins that devastated our communities hundreds of generations ago.  Today we were visited by friendly aliens from the planet Ostr.  Earlier we visited their space craft as it lay on the sea and what a lot of space it seemed to contain.  We also bounced up and down out of the water beside their landing craft to get a good look at them as they came in.  These Ostr aliens are giant multicoloured hump-backed penguins and while they keep a respectable distance, they also allowed us to come right up and look at them.

Pity about Penny the ground-painted.  Last time we saw her she was heading off to a pair of sea lions to tell them how she had been abducted by aliens.

>>>>>>

Eeerraaark, eeeerraaarkk!

>>>>>>

… And so it was in the afternoon that we disembarked at West Point Island.  Michael, the Island’s caretaker, greeted us and generously provided a Land Rover bus service to the black-browed albatross and rockhopper penguin colony and also a service back, later in the afternoon.  This was much appreciated by those of us who were disinclined to venture far.  There was a much higher proportion of albatrosses to penguins than in the previous day at New Island and it was very easy to get quite close.

A few people took a long scenic trek and another group elected to climb an impressive hill in the other direction.  Though it was very windy at the cliff where the albatrosses were, it was very calm at the top of the large hill where a spectacular panoramic view presented itself.  There were also hundreds of albatrosses sitting out on the water.

Layered rocks on the cliff edge

Panorama looking back from the cliff top

Rock striations

The wild coast far below

Hundreds of black-browed albatrosses bobbing on the waves

A view in late afternoon light while walking back

Back at the “farm”, Jeanette put on a lavish afternoon tea and there was also the distraction of a dead ship on the beach as well as anchors and other marine debris.  There was also another afternoon tea on the beach attended by six turkey vultures and eighteen cara cara.

Anchors on the beach

Cara caras and turkey vultures (red heads) at the farm's carcase disposal point

Wreck on the beach

Cara cara, guardian of the wreck

Then a calm and easy return to the ship but the day was not finished yet.  Dinner was a barbeque on deck with loud dance music, mainly rock & roll and 60s pop.  Everyone donned strange headgear and there were exuberant displays of dancing by passengers, Aurora staff and the Russian crew.  Michael and Jeanette attended from the Island and may have wondered what strange universe they had arrived in.

… And I forgot to mention – a fin whale was visible from the ship feeding and with attendant seabirds for about 20 minutes though only the earliest of us back got to see this.

4th April: Falkland Islands (New Island)

Wreck on the beach

Google maps location.

The weather was a bit rough early but it calmed down for our landing on New Island.  The contours of the island were gentle enough on the eastern side where we landed and encountered this wreck on the beach.  Then we walked across to the other side of the island where there were steep cliffs, ravines and many wild birds.

This is one of the many rockhopper penguins who effortlessly present an appearance that young punks can only dream of.  Eugenia Skycarpet and Desmond the Decidedly Deranged were also here and you can see them on the next post, for West Point Island.

Some of the photographers from our expedition

Striated cara cara

Five of the sixteen photographers on our expedition are above, photographing penguins and albatrosses.

To the right is a striated cara cara, a small Falklands raptor.

We were in a huge colony of rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses that stretched a considerable distance up from the sea.  Cara caras and the occasional turkey vulture circled overhead.

One of the albatrosses is below, sitting on  a characteristic mud nest.  There were many young albatrosses here, stretching their wings and testing the wind in preparation for their first flight.

Black-browed albatross on nest

Rockhopper penguins bouncing along

You may like to watch this short video that shows why they are called rockhopper penguins.  They walk and they also jump.  They seem to gather at a rock until they think it’s safe to proceed, then all bounce along….

The side of a pond filled with feathers from moulting penguins

At the side of the wreck – copper, wood, nails and sand …

… and by the time we came back to the beach and the wreck, the tide was out.