Friday, February 28, 2014

South Georgia day 3 - Prion Island

The landing area on Prion Island is small so the groups were subdivided to either be on shore or an a zodiac boat tour.  We started on the zodiac, so boated our way around the island.

Snowy Sheathbills made their first appearance of the trip:



They look like unfinished chickens with a colorful though scaly bill.

A South Georgia endemic was dabbling in the shallows, the South Georgia Pintail:


Nesting on the top of the cliffs, were Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, magnificent birds, this one coming in to land:


Soaring over the cliff:


And just gliding around:



They really are beautiful to behold and to observe, a magical wildlife moment.

Once we'd finished our tour, including sighting South Georgia Pipit (my fellow passengers humoured me with my enthusiasm for seeing this little bird, the last passerine of the trip), however a decent picture eluded me due to the combination of poor light, the motion of the ocean and general user error.

We did get our turn on shore, joining the Gentoo Penguins:


and the King Penguins:


Then climbed the trail, remarkably similar to what you find in UK nature reserves, to approach the nesting Wandering Albatrosses:


As the wind had died right down the birds were sleeping. it would be too wasteful of energy to go out searching for food.  If you look closely you can just see the small pinkish patch of feathers on the face which confirms this as a breeding adult.

Back down on the shoreline I finally got a decent picture of a South Georgia Pipit, a wonderfully golden bird:


Even the insect is in focus in this picture!  Apparently the birds are already recolonising the mainland, where the rats have been eradicated.  It shouldn't be too long before the birds are widespread across South Georgia once again.

From Prion Island we headed back out to sea and South ahead of our final day on South Georgia.  On the way, with calm winds and clear skies I tried some more photography of sea birds, snapping Antarctic Prion:


Black-browed Albatross:



and my personal favourite, the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross.  I am particularly pleased with the first picture here:



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