Our first landings today – and I didn’t fall out of the Zodiac! The first stop was West Point Island, which lies just off the most north-westerly point of mainland West Falkland and boasts a population of 2 people. We walked from the “settlement” up the hill and across the island to Devil’s nose, a beautiful spot that is home to a colony of Rockhopper Penguins peacefully coexisting with Black Browed Albatross.
In the picture above, you can see that the Albatross are actually bigger than the penguins. The Rockhoppers are crested penguins and they are little, averaging 21 1/2 inches in height and weighing only 5-10 lbs. They do waddle like other penguins, but they also hop, hence their name. They’re very noisy and absolutely hilarious to watch with their crazy eyebrows and expressive faces.
Looking after the babies…
A Black Browed Albatross with her chick. Take a look at her eyes and you’ll see that they are appropriately named. An absolutely beautiful bird.
They are a medium sized albatross; with their 6.5 – 8 foot wingspan they seem to just float on the wind.
It’s a beautiful spot – even without the entertaining penguins and the birds. Here are a couple of photos of the “settlement”.
Devil’s nose, and the albatross flying around
A few seals, mommy is looking after her baby
Once back on board, we pulled up anchor and headed to Saunders Island. Saunders Island was site of the first British settlement on the Falkland Islands and is home to a variety of wildlife – 4 species of penguins (Magellanic, Rockhopper, Gentoo & King) as well as 11,000 breeding pairs of black-brown albatross. We were told to ignore the Kings as there are much more impressive colonies in South Georgia. For some unknown reason I have no photos of the Magellanics – I guess I was too busy with the Gentoos!
The Gentoos are Brush-Tailed penguins and they build their nests with rocks, which they find laying around or steal from other’s nests. They are one of the larger penguin species at an average 31” tall and 10 1/4 to 14 1/4 lbs. They’re very entertaining to watch and will randomly show up in colonies of other penguins. Here are some Gentoo pictures…
I like to call this one ”Gentoo Salad”
Babies getting fed
I’m going in!
The Skua is a scavenger and predator. It preys on the penguins and will take their eggs and unprotected chicks. But they still have cute babies, here is a picture of a Skua with her chick.
Try pots were used in the whaling days to remove and render oil from whales and seals and to extract oil from penguins; this one was abandoned and left to rust away. It’s a perfect perch for birds of prey such as this striated caracara, a member of the Falcon family that is also known as the “Johnny Rook” in the Falklands. They’re very inquisitive birds, known to band together and they will make off with anything you leave lying on the ground.
Some gentoos just hangin’
It was a great first day, and no, I’m absolutely not tired of penguins yet!