Heads Above the Crowd
Although the journey involves well over an hour of serious off-road driving, Volunteer Point on East Falkland, provides the best opportunity to access King Penguins anywhere in the world. The colony numbers about 2,000. In the early austral summer the male penguins display to their potential mate by pointing their beaks skywards. Two King Penguins in the midst of their nesting colony, raise their heads to 'trumpet' and display in unison. Falkland Islands.
The Falkland Islands Government Air Service operate several twin-engined Islander aircraft and provide a vital transporation service toFalkland Islanders and tourists alike. This pristine sandy beach is on Weddell Island.
The black-browed albatross or mollymawk is the most widespread of this species and is most commonly found in the Falkland Islands. Notwithstanding, they have only recently been removed from the endangered list. This albatross was incubating an egg at a large nesting area. The Devil's Nose, Westpoint Island.
Two young elephant seals flee, sensing the danger posed by the approaching fin of an adult female orca. There is clearly a submerged obstacle preventing her from getting closer to her prey which diminishes once the tide rises sufficiently. I watched the killer whale from a rocky outcrop a few yards from the action. She repeated the exercise several times before claiming an unwary weanling for breakfast. Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands.
After over twenty minutes of pushing their prey around in the water, possibilty for the benefit of training the young orca in the tradecarft of the kill, the unfortunate seal is finally killed. Sea Lion Island.
Southern Giant Petrel
A southern giant petrel joins a large group of carrion birds and birds of prey atop the remains of a beached male orca. The massive carcass had been providing a food source for scavengers for several days. This huge bird adopted a dominant posture to discourage the competition. Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands.
The leopard seal is the second largest seal species living in Antarctic waters. They are fierce predators and will feed on penguins; other seals and fish. They do not generally attack humans although fatal incidents have been recorded. This young, sand-covered, prehistoric-looking Leopard Seal displays its impressive lower jawline whilst resting at the aptly-named Leopard Beach on Carcass Island, Falkland Islands.
Weathering the Storm
A Gentoo penguin battles the teeth of a sandstorm to return to their spouse at their rookery. The Neck, Saunders Island.
Squabbles between nesting seabirds are commonplace. These two gentoo penguins, however, engaged in a ferocious battle in the middle of a fierce sandstorm, that lasted for nearly three minutes. I shot dozens of photographs in bursts as they moved through the centre of their colony and out the far side. This was one of the few that was free from distracting elements and illustrated the intensity of the fight. Saunders Island, Falkland Islands.
Despite the temptation to seek shelter myself, I took this photograph of a small group of gentoo penguins as they struggled against driving sand whipped up by gale force winds to return to their rookery on Saunders Island. Falkland Islands.
This colossal, bull elephant seal 'beachmaster' nicknamed 'Mango,' lies with his harem nearby and snoozes on the the beach in the fading sunshine of the late afternoon. Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands.
Swingin' the Penguin
In the early dawn, this bull sea lion had pursued king penguins up Volunteer Beach and failed in his quest on two previous occasions, collapsing in the effort, on the point of exhaustion. His last attempt, shown here, resulted in the success he was looking for. Here, he attempts to literally shake the unfortunate penguin out of its skin so that he can eat it. A southern giant petrel flies overhead and three kelp gulls watch nearby, anticipating the opportunity to feast on the remains. East Falkland. Falkland Islands.
King Penguin Profile
I liked the complimentary colours of this shot, hence the slightly unconventional composition. Further, unusually, the penguin's dark eye was visible against its black feathers due to its posture and the lighting of the low afternoon sun. Volunteer Beach, East Falkland, Falkland Islands.