3 January 2011

West Falkland Islands – West Point Island

We wake up early, excited because it is our first JPEGS 2010 12 17 West Point- 101 (23) excursion day.  We get dressed up in our parkas, waterproof pants and our life vests.  We are then given the once over by one of the expedition staff, ensuring our life vests are secure, before we go outside to line up patiently, waiting for our turn to walk the gangway. 

JPEGS 2010 12 17 West Falkland IslandsA pod of Peales dolphins escort us as we pull away from the ship.  They swim along, swim under the zodiac and put on a stunning show for our first day out!  This is magic! 

The sea is calm and we have a dry landing.  Graham, our Expedition Leader greets us and welcomes us to West Point, an Island owned by Lilly and Roddy Napier.  2010 12 17 West Falkland Islands - West PtWe hike uphill to Devil’s Nose, a place that 500 breeding pairs of rock hopper penguins and 2,100 pairs of black-browed albatross call home.  I am stunned at how close the path is to these amazing animals and how unfazed they are by our presence.  JPEGS 2010 12 17 West Point- 101 (92) It is a special time of year to be here, as the new chicks have only just hatched.  I watch in amazement as a albatross preens her young and plays with her little chick.  It is a breathtaking experience and I stay there for ages, mesmerized by the show nature has put on for me.     2010 12 17 West Falkland Islands - West Pt1 The rock hopper penguins are incredibly cute.  They are the smallest penguins in these parts and show so much affection toward each other as JPEGS 2010 12 17 West Point- 101 (64) do the albatross.  They often preen each other before mating and we watch this display of love and affection in amazement.  How many couples find the time and effort to put on such a display, after a few years of co-habitation?  I am also pleased to see how effortlessly two completely different species seem to co-exist together.

We have to tear ourselves away from this spot, because we have morning tea at the Napier’s before we leave.  They put on a fabulous spread of home baked cakes for us, which we devour! 

We have had a fabulous morning.  What an amazing introduction to our expedition to Antarctica!

JPEGS 2010 12 17 West Point- 101 (91) “I now belong to a higher cult of mortals, for I have seen the albatross!”  Robert Cushman Murphy 1912

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