Birds of Prey

1st November 2015. Pebble Island, Falkland Islands.

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Beside the remains of an old wharf we came across a dead penguin that was attracting the attention of the birds of prey.  This was very fortunate as we were able to stay close by in our mobile bird hide (also known as a four wheel drive vehicle) and I was able to photograph them out the window with my long lens.

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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife

A couple of striated cara caras inspecting and sampling the dead penguin.
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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife

Striated cara cara.
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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife .
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Turkey vulture.
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Rock cormorants (interested in fish, not the penguin).
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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife

Striated cara cara.
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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife .
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Giant petrel.
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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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Aerial Photography, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Pebble Island, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Skua, Travel

Montana driving over a boggy stream.

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Aerial Photography, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Pebble Island, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Skua, Travel

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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Aerial Photography, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Pebble Island, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Skua, Travel

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

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Aerial Photography, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Pebble Island, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Skua, Travel

A pair of Magellanic Penguins from the same burrow.

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Aerial Photography, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Pebble Island, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Skua, Travel

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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Aerial Photography, Falkland Islands, Gentoo Penguins, Landscape, Magellenic Penguin, Pebble Island, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, seascape, Skua, Travel

… and then it can be on for young and old….
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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife

Skua on patrol.
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Cara cara, Falkland Islands, Giant Petrel, Landscape, Nature, Pebble Island, Photography, Rock Cormorant, seascape, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wilderness, Wildlife

The last laugh? Two skuas with a stolen egg.
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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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Cara cara, Falklands War, Giant Petrel, Imperial Cormorant, Landscape, Nature, Penguins, Photography, Rockhopper Penguins, Skua, Travel, Turkey vultures, Wildlife

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.

26th March: Antarctica (Vernadsky Station and away North)

Above left is the Vernadsky cloakroom where you must take off all outside clothing before entering the main building. Skis and showshoes as well as jackets and gumboots. At right, a scientist at work.

Vernadsky used to be Faraday Station until Britain sold it to Ukraine for £1 in 1996. Faraday’s moment of scientific glory came in 1984 when it first reported the formation of the ozone hole, leading to the worldwide banning of CFCs. The instrument that discovered this is called the Dobson meter and this is still visible in the attic of Vernadsky (they use a more modern one now).

GPS location (green arrow).

Skua

No GPS references on them, but I’m pretty sure I took the five images above from the ship (rather than from a zodiac) just before we were due to leave Vernadsky.

This is Vernadsky Station, probably our last glimpse. There are quite a few gentoo penguins standing around on some of the rocks and a few birds in the sky, which would be skuas.

If you look very carefully in front of the main building, you may be able to see a small building with a blue roof, rather like an outhouse. This is the prefabricated church we picked up at the Great Wall Station and brought here along with an Eastern Orthodox Archbishop. The station staff erected it while we were here and we attended a brief opening ceremony before we left.

Now we’re underway in the Penola Strait and not far from Vernadsky Station. It’s close to sunset but this of course is a monochrome conversion. I’m not sure exactly where we’re looking but from the angle of the light I’d say it must be mountains on the mainland about 5 kilometres away.

GPS location (green arrow).

The late afterglow of the sunset, about the same time as the previous image but looking west, towards a northern part of the Argentine Islands

Judging from the sequence of other images I’m not showing you, this must be the mainland opposite Peterman Island . This and the next three images might look as though they are monochrome but in fact they’re colour images after sunset.

This must be the mainland opposite Hovgaard Island.

GPS location (green arrow).

The entrance to the Lemaire Channel (from the south).

See those little streaks up at the top left corner? They’re star trails. It’s now 8pm and the sunset was at 6:30pm. Given that this is from a ship and not from a tripod on land, we’re well out of what it was possible to capture in the days of film.

We’re in the Lemaire Channel and looking at the mainland. I don’t have any more specific place names.

GPS location (Green arrow).