Sunday, 29 December 2013

Spurt Island & Cercia Cove



There are some days which will live long in your memory. And this was one of them! The day dawned with brilliant sunshine, blue skies & even bluer seas. We were anchored off Spurt Island & then we set off in zodiacs for one of the most incredible journeys of my life (little did I know at the time that this would be topped by the afternoon's excursion)!
Disembarking for another excursion.
We were off yet again!
The ice had unbelievable colours,
which changed as the light changed.
Some black ice was seen.

The light changed by the minute,
 here the sun was behind a cloud.
 Impressive stacks were all around.

 Charging through these gaps
was both impressive & exciting!

Snow Petrels were breeding here,
 in small numbers.

 Sometimes you just get lucky & they come close!

The black speck on the left, is a Gentoo Penguin!
 Notice our ship!
A closer look - just in case you missed it!

Antarctic Shag.

We dodged around islets, rocky stacks, huge cliffs & so many icebergs of all shapes & sizes. We also ran through surging gaps in the surf! Exhilarating stuff! We were out for around three hours but time just flew by & the scenery just kept on coming! There were only a few birds species but Snow Petrel was again an absolute stunner! 3 Gentoo & a lone Chinstrap were the only Penguins recorded.

A couple of these, kept flying around us as well!

A few Cape Petrels also zoomed overhead & a couple of Wilson's Storm Petrels flitted by the zodiacs.

Wilson's Storm Petrel.

South Polar Skua

 South Polar Skuas patrolled the skies, looking for anything to eat.
We went back to the ship & we re-positioned & anchored in the most stunning location yet! The entrance to Cercia Cove. The place was totally awesome! And the weather was the best! Read on!
At the entrance the bay was wide, & just ice free.



As one progressed further into the bay,
thin ice was on the sea.

Gradually the ice got thicker!

We were pushing through this in the little zodiacs!
 The ice made a loud banging sound
 as we hit it & pushed it aside.
Eventually we had to turn around!


 As it was our last day in Antarctica
the crew from the ship brought the bar
 to us in the bay!

 Chad & Cheryl all dressed up for the occasion!

Certainly this was one of the most memorable afternoons in my entire life! The scenery was just awesome & the changing colours was beyond belief. I missed four Minkie Whales & only saw two species of bird (a Wilson's Storm Petrel & an Antarctic Tern)! But it really didn't matter! Stupendous is the word!
Then as if to say goodbye to Antarctica, as we sailed away, a magnificent sunset engulfed us & what a sunset it was. It really is the land of Ice & Fire (phrase stolen from Game of Thrones)!
 All of us aboard were so elated by the trip, as I turned in that night I became a little melancholy as I realised that I was leaving Antarctica, probably never to return.
The bird list for the day was rather short!
Gentoo Penguin 3; Chinstrap Penguin 1; Southern Giant Petrel 2; Cape Petrel 20; Snow Petrel 8; Wilson's Storm Petrel 2; Antarctic Shag 14; Snowy Sheathbill 2; Antarctic Tern 30; South Polar Skua 7 & 25+ Kelp Gulls.
Just a single Chinstrap Penguin!


The white morph of the Southern Giant Petrel
 is quite a sight!
 Snowy Sheathbill - even down here!

 The ultimate opportunist?
Antarctic Tern. 

What an ending to an unbelievable day! 

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