St. John’s Island, Antarctica
Antarctica. The land of icebergs. The land of whales. And the land of penguins.
Immediately, icebergs proved themselves to be absurdly common along our circuitous route which weaved around the Antarctica Peninsula.
My first life bird of the day was from my stateroom window: SNOW PETREL! One of the birders confirmed that he had seen one exactly how I described it at the same exact time of my observation, so it was gratifying to nail down this ghostly-white bird! Unfortunately, it was too quick for photos.
CAPE PETRELS were still around in small numbers, trailing the ship and occasionally disappearing behind a rogue iceberg.
They were greatly outnumbered, though, by the most common petrel of Antarctica: SOUTHERN FULMAR.
Then, I spotted my life-bird ADELE PENGUIN (the one with a black face) along with three CHIN-STRAPPED PENGUINS resting on an iceberg, which can be great places for spotting penguins...
...as well as, SNOWY SHEATHBILL!!!!! I was out of my mind to find this white, pigeon-like bird because although I had seen one yesterday, it was from a great distance and went unphotographed. This was probably my #1 target for Antarctica because ever since I saw this bird in my Antarctica/S America bird guide, I was mesmerized.
And we had a FANTASTIC look at a SOUTH POLAR SKUA, a bird I have seen only a handful of times before.
At one point, our cruise ship circled around an iceberg that seemed to be so gigantic it could have very well landed a Boeing 747 on top! It was incredible and everyone was out on their balcony snapping photos.
Third penguin species for the day: GENTOO! Thus, a penguin “trifecta” (three species in one day)!
A nice BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS wandered by at one point.
And then, one of the other birders named Tom spotted its much more uncommon cousin which was just a lifer for me yesterday: LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS! So, so awesome!
Humpback Whale, one of a number seen today:
ANTARCTIC TERN, another life bird just yesterday:
Some CHIN-STRAP PENGUINS as we approached St. Paul’s Island.
As well as an adult and juvenile BROWN SKUA:
The views of the Island were simply mesmerizing.
And best of all, it was home to so many ADELE PENGUINS:
And “so many” is an understatement: there were thousands, clustering up and down the hillsides:
I even spotted someone surveying the massive distant nesting colony:
Some GENTOOS were also in the area, foraging and bathing in the bay water:
Bird-of-the-day to the many Adele Penguins, with runner-up to the Snowy Sheathbill. Some AWESOME Antarctic birding and nature-viewing, and it’s just going to improve from here!
Stay tuned — tomorrow we will voyage even further south along the Antarctic Peninsula to the Gerlache Strait. Some target birds will be Blue & Antarctic Petrels, as well as some of the more uncommon penguin species (Emperor, Macaroni, etc) if we get lucky.
World Life List: 1048 Species (2 life birds today: Snow Petrel & Adele Penguin)