Falklands, January 2017
Landscape and people

Landscape and people 

 







 


Albatross
Caracara
Cormorants
Gentoo Penguins
Magellanic Penguins
Skua
In January 2017 we visited the Falkland islands with a small group of photographers, led by Ralph Paonessa. The islands are located in the southern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Argentina but under British rule. Flights to the F'lands still need to be made from Chile - not permitted from Argentina - and arrive at the Brtish airforce base near the F'lands' capital Port Stanley. The 1982 conflict between Britain and Ergentina continues to be a significant part of the Falklands news, as published in the only - weekly - local newspaper "Penguin News".
Penguins are indeed one the main attractions. Gentoos, Magellanics, Rockhoppers and Kings - and the odd Macaroni if you are lucky - can be found in many places and in astounding numbers. They are very approachable, don't seem to mind photographers at all and breed in colonies together with Cormorants and next to Albatrosses. They all had their young when we were there, with all the begging and feeding and constant trips to the ocean
back and forth that is to be expected under those conditions.
The large sea mammals are the other main attraction. Sea Lions, Elephants and Leopards roam the waters and spend much of their days on some of the endless beaches, lazing in the sun - or in the frequent F'land rain. Big as the Sea Elephants and Lions are, the Sea Leopard is without doubt the most fearsome among them and relatively seldom seen. We were fortunate to see one on a landing near one of our stops and one can imagine a Leopard eating a Penguin whole (in practice that is not quite what happens, but the Leopard's mouth is certainly big enough).
Large colonies with great numbers of eggs and young chicks also attract raptors and they - Caracaras, Skuas and Turkey Vultures - were everywhere, sometimes even breeding right next to Penguins. The raptors defend their nests vigorously and we got whacked in the head by a pair of Caracaras without ever having actually seen their nest, which must have been somewhere near by in the tall vegetation.
Accomodation varied significantly, ranging from very comfortable with excellent meals prepared fresh every day to relatively Spartan, with bunk beds at both ends of a metal container. Especially this last place, at "The Neck" on Saunders Island, right next to large Penguin colonies, offered wonderful photo opportunities, including some great sunsets. All in all a great photo trip and a very pleasant two weeks under Ralph's leadership and with our fellow travelers Carol, John, Susan and Patrick.
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Landscape and people