Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Now the fun really begins . . . .




(Yes, we are still in Antarctica. But if you are willing to read to the end of the blog, there will be a surprise for you. No cheating.)

Our first landing was on one of the Falkland Islands. Bleeker Island. Silly me, I’d thought we might go into the town of Stanley and walk around, maybe meet a Falklander or eat some Falkland food. I’d even read up on the currency to make sure they took U.S. dollars. (the official currency of the Falklands is the euro, in case anyone reading this gets on Jeopardy).

Well, I am here to tell you that if penguins 
and fur seals 
had any restaurants or souvenir stalls open, they were not on our side of Bleeker Island.  So I did not have a chance to use my newfound currency knowledge.  Nor did I have a chance to use any currency for the next week, as we never really saw another human being, unless you count the sheep farmer who kindly ferried a few of the more infirm passengers several miles across one section of the island  
no, this is not the farmer, just an indication of the distance. the blue pants belong to my sister nina. the rest of the body on top of the pants also belongs to my sister nina.
so they could climb up to a rockhopper colony.

  Now I’m not saying this guy didn’t count as a human, but I didn’t talk to him, so he doesn’t figure in my tally of mammals.
So, no souvenirs.  Unless you count the pink and white cowrie shell, the penguin bone, and the skua feathers I somehow found in my pockets upon returning.

Oh, come on, it was the Falklands.  And we didn’t get the lecture about not taking or leaving anything any place we stopped until after we left the Falkland Islands.  I’m sure of that.  Well, pretty sure.
Anyway, we saw Magellan penguins in their underground burrows.  
 We saw our first skuas, 
and I actually got a picture of a fledgling, 
which I was later told was quite rare.  We saw Gentoo penguins
 that we wouldn’t see again until we hit the Antarctic Peninsula, quite a different climate from the Falklands.  We saw a huge colony of blue-eyed cormorants.

And on our afternoon stop we pulled up onto a rocky beach and walked several miles to a series of steep rock outcroppings.  When we climbed to the top of those we were rewarded with a rookery of rock hopper penguins.


rockhoppers have to go down a steep rocky cliff(hence the name) and come back with a belly full  of fish for their chicks. so you can't get in their way, because they don't have the extra energy needed to walk around you.



And standing there in the middle of the rock hoppers on top of a large boulder was the only macaroni penguin we would see the entire trip.

Even though macaroni penguins are some of the most prolific in Antarctica, this guy, totally out of his element among the rock hoppers, was it for our sightings.
Not a bad first day of excursions from Le Boreal.

And for those of you who read (or at least skimmed) down this far, congratulations!
You’re the first to know that I finally heard from my publisher and my 'tween novel Coyote Summer will be out in 7 to 10 days. 

 And (shameless self-promotion) check out my ever changing and improving website www.margosolod.com for updates and the best ways to get Coyote Summer into your library or school district.