Many of us love to travel, and when we do, we often enjoy the birds and wildlife of far away places. As you will learn below, Valerie and Mark Doane recently took a trip to a place where it is spring during our fall. Along with her narrative, she has included a blog site of many beautiful photos! We hope our SIB members enjoy taking the first part of the trip with Valerie to see “love is in the air”! Keep watch for Part II which will be published soon!
And if you have taken a trip and enjoyed doing a bit of bird watching, please send us an email as we’d love to share your story and photos! Thanks!
In October/November of last year, Mark and I traveled with National Geographic/Lindblad on yet another expedition to the Antarctica region. This time our expedition led us to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Islands both of which are in the Antarctic convergence but not quite 60 degrees south.
It was another trip of a lifetime with many discoveries and memories to savor. We’d like to share some of our memories with you in this first installment of my photos taken in the Falkland Islands. https://valeriedoane.myportfolio.com/settlement-rookery-devils-nose-colony-falkland-islands
We visited both the Settlement Rookery on New Island and the Devil’s Nose Colony on West Point Island each with several hundred pairs of Rockhopper penguins and more than 13,000 and 15,000 pairs of Black-browed Albatross at Settlement and Devil’s. Remember, October/November is springtime in the Falklands which is breeding season, so lots of mating and romance going on…“love was definitely in the air.” As a side note, fortunately we were able to catch a sighting of the rare “Johnny Rook,” a.k.a. the Striated Caracara as well as a female Upland Goose with her goslings!
You’ll notice that the Black-browed Albatross and Rockhopper Penguins peacefully coexist during the breading season in each of the rookeries. And what a cacophony of sounds and hustle and bustle of activity… wonderfully captivating!
A little bit of background on both of these birds. The Rockhopper Penguin is both Mark and my favorite penguin of the eight species we have seen thus far. They are insane, zany little characters with loads of personality and attitude. They grow to around 2’ and although small, they are mighty. They nest in colonies on rocky slopes and cliffs at 36 sites around the Falklands. Two eggs of unequal size are laid in early November, but only the larger egg is generally successful. Rockhopper’s defy the clumsiness that penguins are renowned for. Against the odds, they hoist their small round frame up the steepest of cliff faces. Skillfully hopping from one rock to another on two pink feet, thus the name “rockhopper.” No waddling as with other penguins do, no these little creatures are fearless. Check out the whacky, madcap look they have about them as well.
The Black-browed Albatross is simply an exquisite and beautiful bird so do be sure to view the close-up shots of their eyes/head in my photo gallery. They breed in dense colonies on steep cliffs at 16 sites in the Falklands. Adults pair for life and return to use the same nest each September, laying a large single egg in October which hatches in December. They nest on terraces on top of coastal tussock-clad cliffs or steep slopes up to 300 m above sea level. The nest is a solid pillar of mud and guano with some tussock grass and seaweed incorporated, and is re-used annually. You’ll see the nests and eggs in the photos.
The Falkland Islands hold over 85% of the global population of black-browed albatross (estimated at 680,000 pairs). These island are the most important breeding locality in the world for this species.
The name of the gallery is “Settlement Rookery-Devil’s Nose Colony Falkland Islands.” Here’s the link. https://valeriedoane.myportfolio.com/settlement-rookery-devils-nose-colony-falkland-islands Click on each photo in the gallery to enlarge and view as a slide show and btw, the photos are best viewed on a laptop or tablet, smart phones not so good.
Next installment: King Penguins, Oakum Boys, Blue-eyed Shags, Petrels, Grey-headed Albatross, Elephant and Fur Seals- all from the South Georgia Islands… stay tuned!
Thanks and enjoy.
Article and Photographs Submitted by Valerie Doane