Posts Tagged ‘skua’

Deception Island, Feb. 17, 2010

February 19th, 2010 at 1:31 pm (AST) by Krystyana Richter

It was cold, rather dark, and windy…in the volcanic caldera of Deception Island. The caldera contains the remains of the Norwegian Hektor whaling station and the British base B (used for both military purposes during the 40s and scientific purposes during late 50s and well into the 60s). The people that had worked at the base and the base itself had suffered from small eruptions, mud slides, stormy weather, and the like. They finally gave up and abandoned the base in 1969.

Today, the roofs have sagged in or there are none at all, parts of the buildings have been buried by mud slides and the silos that once held whale oil now rust, and you can still make out some of the words on them.

Rusting Silo used for storing whale oil

Rusting Silo used for storing whale oil

Molting gentoo penguins were huddled near a cement base where a building once stood and all that remains now is a stove, some cupboards, and a few weathered planks.

Molting Gentoo penguin next to cement block base

Molting Gentoo penguin next to cement block base

There is a hanger further out and the wind tore at my face as I hiked to it. It used to contain an airplane (an American tourist decided to restore it but the British protested and commissioned a ship to go pick it up for a lot of money) but now all it holds is snow covered with ash.

this hanger is far out and a windy path to get there

this hanger is far out and a windy path to get there

Door to the hanger

Door to the hanger

Inside the hanger containing more snow covered in ash

Inside the hanger containing more snow covered in ash

On the other side of the beach, the skeletal remains of boats are abundant, with Skuas resting nearby.

Boat and skuas

Boat and skuas

Skua

Skua

I love taken pictures of old buildings and you can get some amazing shots if the lighting is just right.

Former room in a now collapsing building

Former room in a now collapsing building

Building on Deception Island

Building on Deception Island

The snow covered with ash looked a lot like dirt pie; Oreos crumbled on top of ice creamy stuff (my dad suggested that I was hungry).

snow covered by ash

snow covered by ash

The caldera is open to the ocean and the only way in and out via Ship is through Neptune’s Bellows, which may seem large but contains rocks in the middle of the opening, so our ship had to stick one of the sides of the opening.

My family and I, had all brought our bathing suites thinking of a natural hot tub, but….The heat from the volcano may have once heated the waters in the caldera but now it provides a slightly warmer (or not even that) polar plunge!

 

Skua at Red Rocks Ridge

February 15th, 2010 at 5:00 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

A skua is a sizable predatory bird, usually feeding on penguin chicks and their eggs. Several skuas we encountered at Red Rocks Ridge were nesting – getting too close to their chicks (about 40 feet as I discovered) resulted in raucous calls from the parents, followed by them taking flight and dive bombing the intruders (me, in a couple of cases). I kept them at bay until I could get further away by keep my tripod a bit higher than my head. They never made physical contact, however.

Two skua wait for feeding opportunities

Two skua wait for feeding opportunities

A skua with its chick (at left) - well colored for camouflage

A skua with its chick (at left) - well colored for camouflage

Skuas fight over a baby penguin carcass in a three-way match

Skuas fight over a baby penguin carcass in a three-way match

Skuas squabble over scraps

Skuas squabble over scraps

 

We Make Landfall on the Antarctic Continent

February 15th, 2010 at 2:54 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yesterday morning, we woke around 8am to find ourselves surrounded by ice bergs in the northern part of Marguerite Bay, just south of Adelaide island. We could make out brown bits of land in the distance in addition to ice bergs and figured landfall was not far off.

An iceberg in the fog

An iceberg in the fog

However, minutes later we were in the midst of very dense fog, which did not let up for hours. An attempt was made to find us a landing site with wildlife nonetheless, but it was not successful.

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

Radar shows where there are obstacles

Radar shows where there are obstacles

The captain of the National Geographic Explorer opted to move the ship to a new location to try again, and another scouting party was sent out. Finally word came back that we would be able to go for an afternoon landing at Red Rocks Ridge, where there was a large colony of Adélie penguins. However, because of the fog, there would be no Zodiac tours while others were on shore, and instead half the passengers would go ashore at 1:30pm for two hours, and then the other half would go at 3:30pm so that the 100 person on shore limit could be properly enforced but still allow all to spend ample time exploring.

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

Everyone on board had all been previously distributed into a total of six groups, and we are in Group 1. Groups 1, 2, and 3 were the first shift, and Groups 4, 5, and 6 the second.

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

The ride was a bit cold, but we were thrilled to able to finally set foot on the Antarctic continent, and better yet, get a better understanding of how penguins lived on land.

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

We spent the next two hours observing the rules of conduct as well as hundreds of penguins, a fair number of Antarctic blue-eyed shags (in the cormorant family) as well as several territorial skuas.

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

I will post several separate blog posts after this one with photos of particular encounters at Red Rocks Ridge in order to split things up a bit, as there are a lot of pictures to share.