The Journey Begins…

My adventure finally begins! First stop Brize Norton in order to catch a flight to the Falklands via Ascension Island. Didn’t really know what to expect on the flight, there were rumours of a 19.5 hours of discomfort without any in flight entertainment but fortunately this was not the case. In fact it was pretty standard if a little outdated, the only real difference was that we were brought food and drinks almost every hour, even throughout the night! Large calorie intake is necessary to keep up the RAF physique obviously!

We had a brief 2 hour stop at Ascension island where I was assured that I would easily add the endemic Ascension Frigatebird to my world list. However, it seems I was lied to!

Giant Petrel passing over head in the Falklands
Giant Petrel passing over head in the Falklands

When we finally arrived in the Falklands the weather was beautiful even though I was assured this most definitely would not be the case. For those not fortunate enough to have visited it, it’s very similar to the Western Isles. We didn’t really get much time to explore as we were into the Governor’s Office first thing the following morning in order for Roger, our Base Commander, to be made a magistrate of South Georgia. Shortly after, we were being whisked off to board the Pharos Fisheries Patrol Vessel to sail to South Georgia.

Cape Petrel cruising behind our boat as we leave Falkland for South Georgia
Cape Petrel cruising behind our boat as we leave Falkland for South Georgia

Our cruise to South Georgia took us 5 days and our only responsibilities were to eat and sleep, which gave us loads of time to sit up on the bridge and search for pelagic wildlife!

As we were waiting to leave harbour, we were able to see good numbers of King Shags, Skuas and Southern Giant Petrels, not a bad start! After a couple of small delays we were eventually escorted out of the harbour by our pilot vessel who herself was escorted by a group of 3 Commerson’s Dolphins.

As we left towards more open waters, both of our escorts left us, but luckily our sightings continued. Several small groups of the migratory Magellanic Penguins were observed logging (resting) on the surface before I got to see my first ever Gentoo Penguins, acting similarly. Conditions were absolutely perfect for wildlife watching with flat seas, no wind and blue skies and it wasn’t long before we were joined by our second species of dolphins. This time, there were three Peale’s Dolphins bow riding and performing for us.

One of three Peele's Dolphins Escorting us on our crossing
One of three Peele’s Dolphins escorting us on our crossing

As we continued away from Falkland waters after dinner, we were joined by good numbers of Cape Petrels, Black Browed Albatross’s, Atlantic Fulmers and more Southern Giant Petrels with small numbers of Wilson’s Petrel and Antarctic Prions also present. Not a bad haul for half a day at sea, buzzing is an understatement! As the sunset drew on and we congregated on deck to look for the illusive green flash* unsuccessfully, we were rewarded with the consolation of a distant whale blow and my first ever Wandering Albatross! They are flipping massive! What a day!

* see “green flash” in Wikipedia.

Close up shot of one of the many Black Browed Albatross that followed us for the dayClose up shot of one of the many Black Browed Albatross that followed us for the day

13 Replies to “The Journey Begins…”

  1. Wandering ….. not wondering !! Looking forward to your next blog. I was counting Wandering Albatross last January ….. wish I was there now. ……good luck

    1. Oops, I am going to blame autocorrect for that! Where were you working with the wanderers? They are incredible birds! I am looking forward to the chick census in April!

  2. Wow Jamie – we are looking forward to following your blog. Alex says “our class is learning about the Arctic and Antarctic right now!!! We hope you have lots of great adventures.”

  3. Fantastic Blog! My Year 7 Geography students are studying Antarctica at the moment at your ‘old’ school Gosford Hill !!! They will start following your blog this week. Be prepared!

    1. Sorry for the late replies, the internet hasn’t quite made it down here yet so still very slow! I didn’t realise you were teaching Geography as well now. Hope all is well at Gosford? If you or any of your class have any questions they want answering or picture requests then I am happy to respond, as best I can.

  4. It’s so cool and interesting. The facts and images will proberly help me a lot in Geography.Have fun on the rest of your trip!❤️

  5. Hi Jamie, it’s Jamie! I am learning about Antarctica and the Arctic. Please post some information so I can share it with my class friends. Have a good time. Love from Jamie.
    p.s. I tried phoning Alex to find out what you are doing but he didn’t answer the phone! tell him off when you speak to him.

    1. Hi Jamie, its Jamie! What information do you want to know?

      I am thousands of miles away from Alex and you are around the corner, so I think you have more chance of speaking to him than me!

      1. Hi Jamie, its Jamie again! I am learning about penguins and I am just doing some penguin research about all the different types. Did you know there are 17 different types of penguins? My class is following your website, we think it is great and we want to know more about everything you are doing.


        p.s. I have still not spoken to Alex he never picks up the phone.

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