A really good day today as we went to explore the east side of the island – the far less studied side and with being so busy elsewhere I'd not had a chance to get over. We had our legitimate reasons though – I'm starting to map the Blue-eyed Shag colonies and Tamsin needed to check on the rat bait boxes (we have to be constantly vigilant about the possible presence of rats as they could totally devastate the bird life if they ever found a way over). So Ruth agreed to take us on an expedition to Farewell Point.
Whereas most of the walking on Bird Island is through very high Tussock Grass, on the way out we went quite high so were able to use the more mountainous tracks.
Toward the east point it started to snow, heavily. By this point we were looking for Shag colonies, and looking through binoculars was like peering up close at a snow globe. But the weather here is predictable in it's inconsistency and shortly afterwards the clouds moved over and we were able to climb onto the ridge and eat our lunch in glorious sunshine.
From up there we saw the most exciting thing of the day; icebergs! Two of them basically on the horizon but still looking huge, square, bright white things. Also out there was the JCR, the ship we'd come down on. It was completing it's return journey and science cruise after dropping others off at Signy.
The sun held as we returned closer to the coast where the walking was harder, like most of the rest of the island. Thankfully there were plenty of spots to rest and take photos of penguins and seals. The distance from us to South Georgia mainland looked minimal – 100m or so of clear blue water. Of course the water is freezing cold and with a powerful tide. Then if you wanted to get to civilization as it is on South Georgia it's another 50 miles over some huge, barely touched mountains.
So I think I'll stay here.
Blue-eyed Shag; one of those of that which we was trying to see.
After the brief blizzard the clouds lifting to give us ghostly views of South Georgia.
A short time and a short climb and we're counting Shags from the ridge.
That massive white thing on the horizon is an iceberg. Even with a zoom lens it would be tiny but with a 16mm it's just a collection of pixels.
Grey-headed Albatross in front of Middle Mac (more Macaroni Penguins than at Little Mac, but not as many as at Big Mac).
Tamsin and Ruth heading out along a well-established path across the scree. So much easier than through the tussocks.
Gentoo Penguins with some chicks almost big enough to be left alone. South Georgia looking imposing again in the background.
Looking back on Mountain Cwm and South Georgia.
More photos here.