It was a great day of exploration in East Falkland today, after an evening crossing of the Falkland Sound, the body of water separating East and West Falkland. This was a first for Lindblad Expeditions, and it allowed many of us to see some new and very interesting sites. The first landing of the day was the windswept beach at Bull Point.
Bull Point is located at the southernmost point of East Falkland and has several small gentoo penguin colonies easily accessible from the soft sand beach landing. After crossing a band of sea cabbage, we had an easy walk on hard-packed sand to view several groups of penguins on eggs. Each group of gentoo penguins demonstrated its unique ability to use whatever material was handy to build their nests. On display was a variety of pebbles and grasses as nesting materials, and many of us enjoyed watching the pebble-stealing and nest-building activities.
Above the penguin groups, the brown skuas circled hopefully, waiting to grab a momentarily uncovered incubating egg. A skua pair seized their moment and lifted an egg and dropped it on a spot just outside the group. They seemed to have some difficulty breaking into the egg and expressed agitation when a third skua swooped in to give the egg-cracking a try. Finally, the pair succeeded in getting to their meal.
After lunch, we repositioned National Geographic Explorer to a great location for some long walks and great wildlife viewing at Bleaker Island. We saw a wide variety of birdlife, including flightless Falkland steamer ducks, upland geese, kelp geese, Magellanic penguins (burrowing very close to shore), gentoo penguins, rockhopper penguins, imperial shags, and much more! The walk to the rockhopper and shag colonies was made easier for some with the help of locals in 4x4 vehicles, but those who did the whole four-mile trip certainly appreciated the barbecue sausages, beer, and soft drinks provided by our wonderful hotel crew back at the landing.
We ended our time in the Falkland Islands with Captain Oliver’s Welcome cocktails and dinner. We now have a couple of days at sea to savor our experiences on these wonderful islands, and perhaps cull our hundreds of photos and rest up for the coming exciting days in South Georgia.