West Point & Saunders Islands

Oct 27, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


It was our second full day in the Falklands and we had the privilege to visit West Point Island to see and photograph black-browed albatross and rockhopper penguin colonies. After a short hike over the spine of the island, we found ourselves in tussock grasses surrounded by these majestic species of bird. Cameras clicked and whirred as we all attempted to capture the beauty of the birds around us!

Global Perspectives Guest Speaker David Allen Sibley captured the essence of birds in an entirely different way: He sat quietly and watched them as he drew the details of their character. I have traveled with many serious birders in my time with Lindblad-National Geographic, and I have never seen anyone get so much joy from being in the presence of a life-list bird!

David’s love and passion for birds were rewarded this morning when a black-browed albatross almost landed in his lap, then proceeded to jump up on the railing meant to keep us at a comfortable distance from the colony (good thing birds don’t know the rules!). The albatross then opened its wings and offered David a resplendent, full-feathered display. Could the bird have recognized a kindred spirit? Or was it rewarding David for a lifetime devoted to the celebration of all birds? We can only speculate…

We spent the afternoon on Saunders Island, site of the first British settlement in the Falklands at Port Egmont, built in 1765. Saunders Island happens to be where Expedition Leader Russ Evans grew up, and it happened to be his birthday! Smiles all around we celebrated with his daughter, Kirsten, and the family dog, Elle. We ate chocolate cake (made by mom Biffo). Happy birthday, Russ, and thank you for sharing your Falkland Islands upbringing, knowledge, and experience with the rest of us!

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About the Author

Michael Nolan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Michael Nolan was born in Bitburg, Germany to an Air Force family stationed there. His first experience of the ocean came at age 12, when he learned to snorkel in the Italian Mediterranean. At age 17 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a PADI SCUBA instructor, before starting a SCUBA diving business that specialized in diving trips to the Sea of Cortez.

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