Michael Potts
Wildlife and Landscape Photography

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News & Events: Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia .  January 2017.

Tuesday 6th June 2017 |

The last time I posted a news item I think was back in November when I was getting excited about a big trip to the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands. Well time flies and I have been there and done that! What a fantastic trip it was, we went from Ushuaia at the tip of Argentina crossing the Drake Passage and onward to the Antarctic Peninsula, stunning scenary of jagged ice capped mountains, glaciers flowing into the sea and icebergs of every shape and hue. Within the sheltered bays  and inlets were colonies of Chin Strapped and Gentoo Penguins with small downy young :  Hump Back whales went about there 'bubble netting' buisiness in a gentle snowstorm not 30 metres from our Zodiacs, and Killer Whales an almost daily occurance often close to the ship ......such memorable days.

After 4 days around the Peninsula we headed back to sea passing very close to Elephant Island, where Shackletons men spent months waiting for rescue. It was impossible to land, the seas were to heavy but we saw the little beach where these brave men defied the elements until rescue came. What a bleak and foreboding place, shrowded in low cloud and with constant winds, surely one of the loneliest places on earth.

We now had several days at sea heading East toward South Georgia, a lot of my time was spent on deck watching for and photographing seabirds especially Albatross. South Georgia is one of those places that I have read about many times and I thought I would never have the chance to visit. But being here is almost beyond description, inky blue sea with jagged snow covered mountains soaring up to 10,000 feet and huge sparkling glaciers pouring their icy cargo into deep fiords. Wildlife is of course spectacular, hundreds of thousands of King Penguins mass on the coastal plains, Antarctic Fur Seals, thousands of them, on every bit of beach with their tiny pups less than 2 weeks old. Landing among these massed ranks of sometimes aggressive seals can be quite daunting. They will charge and the last thing you should do is turn your back on them or run. Most of the charges end with the animal stopping a few metres short of biting you leg! Seeing the tiny cove where Shackleton first landed after sailing from Elephant Island, some 700 miles distant, was quite something. They spent the night in a tiny cave there while the heavy seas battered their tiny craft which they almost lost. We also walked part of the route to Stromness Whaling station where Shackleton eventualy got help to rescue his men from Elephant Island.

The last port of call was the Falkland Islands. We stayed for 4 nights in Port Stanley then flew out to West Falklands where we stayed  on Saunders Island for 4 nights, what a treat. The fantastic colonies of Black Browed Albatross on the cliffs where you could sit within metres of these majestic birds as they calmly went about their nesting duties. Rockhopper Penguins surfing in to the beaches on massive waves before wending their way up well worn rocky trails to their noisy colonies full of large chicks high up on the hillside. Caracaras (or Johny Rooks) were always nearby waiting for any opportunity to seize a chick or egg from an unattended nest. I thoroughly enjoyed the Falklands and would have loved to have explored more of the islands, I might return one day to do just that!