Friday, 13 March 2009

Falklands and away

Walking out to Gypsy Cove on the first evening

Another way of seeing the Falklands, no thanks...

Penguins, sandy beach, evening sunlight

Magellanic Penguin

Some birds were moulting while others were in a fit state to swim

Trip down to the falklands went as expected, 11pm flight from Brize Norton getting in to Falklands about 3pm, via some time in a customs pen on Ascension Island (daylight so could see the endemic Ascension Frigatebirds flying over). Four people had come early so mobilising the ship was fairly easy - containers were unpacked and a lot of the equipment built. The first evening several of us walked out to Gypsy Cove to see the penguins. Always good to see and a chance to enjoy the warm sunny evening (which don't come around too often on the Falklands!)

Turkey Vulture

Dark-faced Ground Tyrant

Falklands Steamer Duck, a flightless endemic species

RRS Ernest Shackleton - the other BAS science/logistic ship that we were moored with at Fipass

Falklands scenery as we left through the Narrows

After a couple of days setting up equipment and lashing it down we sailed on the evening of the 11th at 5pm. Luckily this was close enough to the end of the day (aka dinner) that the mandatory lifeboat drill was delayed until the following morning. This allowed time to watch the numerous Sei Whales that were hanging around the Falklands (10-15 animals seen but none photographed). There were also large numbers of seabirds and skipping dinner was rewarded with a leaping pod of Peale's Dolphin together with a variety of good seabirds.
Weather was very good yesterday so got the telescope sorted out on the monkey island. Works very well after I cut a bit off the tripod stalk and added non-slip matting to the clamp. Not many photos from sea yet as they are mostly from when we stop as the birds come closer then.
We did stop today for a test station but that was generally either busy or foggy. Exception was a short period before lunch when I made it to the monkey island. A Minke Whale rolled next to the ship but then, as Minke's tend to, completely disappeared. A Kerguelen Petrel passed through, great to see one again after 3 years (they were relatively frequent around Crozet). They generally fly quite high (10-15m - very high for a seabird) and occasionally drop down steeply to a wave, follow it round and rise back up just as steeply to their original height. There were a decent number of seabirds around and we were next to a seamount so I was hopeful of something more and was soon proved right by three Gray's Beaked Whales (no photos, but quite similar to Sowerby's - see photos below). On the work front, all the physics stuff is working (after a few minor glitches) but some issues with the other kit, nothing too serious though. Now off to the first full station.

The first of many Wandering Albatross photos - note the sea state, 2-3 most of the day and, with a warm (and following) northerly wind it was t-shirt weather on the monkey island.


USelaine said...

Great to see you adventure underway again. I'm surprised to see something as familiar to me as the Turkey Vulture. I see plenty of those in Mendocino county. Every creature and landscape you show us is a delight.

Ian said...

Morning Hugh

Sounds like you've quickly settled back into ship routine, glad the new telescope set up is working and you got a daylight stop on Ascension. Are you still planning an extended stay there on the way back? Brownsea is set for 29-31 May with ferries sorted for Friday eve about 7pm. Let me know if you're back and around for that weekend as space is limited according to Pete M.

All the best Hugh, hope it goes well and keep up the photos