Tag Archives: Rockhopper penguins

Falkland Islands 3 – New Island

Sunday 11 March 2024 – Overnight from Carcass to New Island was “not too bad”, a phrase which has been a running joke throughout this whole trip.  When Pippa and the skipper first discussed our overall route and a possible transit through the Drake Passage, the major decision to reverse the direction of our entire outing and make it anticlockwise was done on the basis that the captain’s view was that the wind forecast was “not too bad” – apparently the most sanguine description he ever gives of weather possibilities.  With the exception of maybe two nights, our transits from place to place have been “not too bad”, i.e. absolutely bloody miraculous.  It has been astonishing how good our weather has been, to the point where I was considering (jokingly) the possibility of submitting a complaint about the trip because it wasn’t the “authentic Antarctic experience”.

Anyway, not too bad.

We were able, courtesy of some more skillful navigation from the captain, to get quite near New Island. You can see from the state of the sea that it was pretty breezy.

Closer examination shows it to be a settlement that’s a little more substantial than the one we’d recently visited at Carcass.

Indeed, it has its own shipwreck

and a small but beautifully formed museum

dedicated to supporting the New Island Conservation Trust. This was originally set up by the two co-owners of the island to ensure that it never got exploited and was always a conservation area for wildlife.

Outside, the museum has a gentoo penguin statue

and inside

there’s a lot of information about the trust, many relevant artifacts from the surrounding area

as well as an opportunity to indulge in some retail therapy.

Having perused the place, we started the relatively short walk towards another black-browed albatross colony. On the way, we passed kelp geese,

more of the ubiquitous upland geese

and more rockhoppers using cormorants for added security against marauding skuas,

but the albatrosses were the main objective of the excursion.

An albatross is a big bird and, like the cormorant, one that a skua won’t fuck about with, hence the rockhoppers get the added protection.  The location shown above is also a good demonstration of why rockhoppers get their name, since they’ve clearly hopped up all those rocks to get to a place of relative security.

There were cormorants among the other birds, too;

these were imperial cormorants, distinguished by white on the front of their necks and those yellow-orange eye decorations.

It was windy. Again.  And, as well as some dramatic cliff scenery,

there was tucking fussock grass. Again.

It really was somewhere between “trying” and “dangerous” to find places to watch the penguins and albatrosses – but ultimately rewarding.

The rockhoppers are very engaging creatures

and the wind made their hairstyle very distinctive

and clearly left them at times severely unimpressed.

The albatrosses were feeding their chicks, each residing on the nest that they won’t leave until they can fly.  They’re very demanding.

and it was interesting to watch the way their demands affected the parents.

After a while it was time to head back, this time thankfully with the wind behind us, to the boat, but the final image that stayed with me was this extremely punk rockhopper.

For Jane and me, this was our last landing on the Falklands.  Pippa organised another one, more to the north of New Island, but, frankly, both of us were pretty tuckered out by this stage, and the northern landing didn’t hold the prospect of seeing anything dramatically different from what we’d already seen.  So we awarded ourselves our second Afternoon Off. Which was delightful, I have to say.

And now we had to leave. After our time in the Falklands, all that remained was a Sea Day whilst we headed back to Ushuaia and the end of three weeks exploring Antarctica and the Southern Ocean Islands. We simply hoped that the weather would continue to be “not too bad”.  One of the other captains in the Oceanwide Adventures fleet reportedly has another weather saying: “One day, you’ll pay”. We had to hope that  maybe it wouldn’t be down to us to pick up this particular bill.