About three hours after we set sail from West Point Island, we arrived at Carcass Island. You can see one of the zodiacs coming ashore and the mid-afternoon sun was pretty harsh. I learned my lesson from this morning and decided not to wear all of my layers at once. I just put on my lightweights under my waterproof pants and parka and that seemed to be just the right balance for me.
As I was walking up a hill towards the beach on the other side of the island, I saw these two little guys come tearing past me:
These are Gentoo Penguins and they are pretty quick on their feet. There was quite a large colony of these penguins near the beach.
As I kept walking toward the beach, we came across a few Magellanic Penguins. This was the only place on our entire expedition where we saw these birds.
The Gentoo Penguins always seemed to be in a hurry. They weren’t particularly curious about us, they just seemed to want to get from the beach to their rookeries as quickly as possible.
This guy, however, wasn’t going anywhere. It is an Elephant Seal pup (also more affectionately known as a “weener”). These pups are born on the beach and their mothers stay with them for about 6 to 8 weeks before they are abandoned (their mothers need to go back out to sea to feed). The pups will remain on the beach until they get really hungry, then they will be forced to go to sea to learn how to hunt.
Until then, they are basically big (200kg) bags of blubber just lying on the beach.
All of the above shots were taken with my Nikon D3 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S lens. I also used the Nikon TC-20E III AF-S 2x Teleconverter with the Gentoos as they were quite skittish and I needed the extra reach as I could not get very close to them.
After our visit to the Gentoo rookery, the family who owned the island invited us for afternoon tea, a very civilized way to spend a couple of hours.
The remaining shots in this post were taken with my Panasonic GF1 and pancake lenses As I stated several times, I am amazed how convenient it was (since it was always accessible) and I am still stunned by its image quality (I shot it in RAW format). A few people on the expedition had Olympus E-P2‘s and Olympus E-PL1‘s, which are also micro four thirds cameras. Their image quality (especially in JPEG) is excellent and they would have been just as convenient as my Panasonic GF1 and of course, can use the same lenses.
Here is our zodiac approaching the beach on the other side of the bay where we are going to have our tea:
There is the Ocean Nova on the bay… the shot was taken after we landed on shore.
It was a short walk from the landing site to the farmhouse for tea. You can see Gorse is all over the island.
Our hosts put on an amazing spread for us. We get way too much to eat on the ship as it is already … and this was a really pleasant way to spend our remaining time ashore. I have to admit it is a great way to spoil your dinner!
It was finally time to head back to the ship so we went down to the landing site to board the zodiacs. The crew seem to be enjoying the afternoon tea more than we were as no one was ready to take us back quite yet 🙂 It was just lovely seeing the sun starting to set over the gently rolling hills of Carcass Island.
We will be heading to the capital, Stanley, and land there tomorrow. Must say our first day on the Falkland Islands was very pleasant and a good way to start off our expedition.
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