Sunday, 13 March 2016

Antarctic Cruise Part two

So, after our 2 day stay in Buenos Aries, we set sail on Sunday evening the 14th March for the 1500 mile journey (approximately) to Ushuaia - colloquially know as 'the end of the world'. The following morning, with the sun shining, it was down for brekkie,  then up to the Oceanview cafe on deck 10 at the stern of the ship, to see what we could find! The first birds of note were Sooty and Great Shearwaters - and lots of them! Our first cetacean sighting was in the afternoon of the 15th when I saw a blow  approx 400 meters off the stern;  I'm no expert on cetaceans but I think the image below is of a Antarctic Minke Whale - please feel free to correct me if it isn't!
 The next two birds I saw were both lifers for me in the shape of Southern Giant Petrel and Black-browed Albatross - both species being seen most days. It was going to take us 3 days sailing to get to our destination, so quite a few hours were spent on either deck 10 or the promenade deck 4, checking out any passing birds. On the 16th, Wandering Albatross and White-chinned Petrel were seen for the first time - the images just don't show how large the Wandering Albatross is - they fly effortlessly over the sea and are a stunning bird to watch.
                                                                  Black-browed Albatross
                                                               Southern Giant Petrel
                                                                  White-chinned Petrel

On the 17th, it was pretty much the same as the previous two days - still quite a few birds around the ship; Wilson's storm Petrel were seen in good numbers as were Slender-billed and Antarctic Prions  -mind you, getting images was another thing - all of these smaller pelagic birds just do not hang about! (well, that's my excuse, anyway!)

                                                                   Slender-billed Prion

By the morning of 18th, we had reached Ushuaia. Sue and I were booked on a tour to sail the Beagle Channel on a motorised catamaran to Martillo Island where there is a Magellanic Penguin colony. On the way, we stopped at an Imperial Shag Colony  and also a South American Fur Seal colony. Going further down the channel we noted Chilean Skua, Kelp and Dolphin Gull, South American Tern and a distant Flightless Steamerduck
                                                                      Kelp Gull
                                                             Wandering Albatross

After a couple of hours going East along the channel we finally reached the penguin colony there were approx up to a thousand Magellanic Penguins quite few Gentoo Penguins and just one King Penguins a few Upland Geese and lots of Chilean Skuas
                                                           Sleeping male Kelp Goose
                                                                Female Kelp Goose
                                                                       Dolphin Gull
                                                       A view down the Beagle Channel
                                                                  Chilean Skua

On our way back more Black-browed Albatross were encountered - probably up to a hundred or more birds - and Imperial Shags are abundant, with the odd Olivaceous Cormorant and a few Rock Shags.
                                                                Black-browed Albatross
                                                          South American Fur Seals
                                                             South American Tern
                                                  Southern Giant Petrel ready for take off

On arriving back at the port, we had a walk around the quayside, and eagle-eyed Sue picked up a Chimango Caracara sitting on a pontoon out in the water; also a Grey-flanked Cinclodes was seen o the waters edge and Crested Duck was noted too.
                                                                Chimango Caracara
                                                              Grey-flanked Cinclodes
                                                     Imperial Shag and a Dolphin Gull                                                                                                                                                                  
                                                          Chilean Skuas on patrol
We had a brilliant day at Ushuaia, but it was soon time to board the ship, and the following morning, hopefully, we would  watch the sun rise over Cape Horn! Below is an image of a Magellanic Penguin. If you are asking yourself where are the other Penguin images, well I'll post them in part 3 when we visit the Falkland Islands!
That concludes part 2
As always thanks for stopping by and hope you have enjoyed the blog.


  1. Col the whale looks like a Sei Whale! I haven't seen Antarctic Minke but it doesn't look like a Minke Sp to me!?

  2. Great photos again Col. I have to say looking at that I better start saving my pennies.

    1. Thanks Carl, it's not cheap but you only do it once, well we will

  3. Agree with Dave, looks like a Sei whale, tall dorsal.

    1. Thanks both, a new species for Sue and me...

  4. Another excellent post Col, and again accompanied with a superb batch of quality images, top man!