I have often stated in these pages that they are as much about
the future me as the present reader. I have decided to test this
theory by making one page that contains a full year of my life.
As I write this on January 4 I expect 2024 to be a full year of
travel for guiding contracts and for personal enjoyment. My
intention at the start is to include fewer photos and more
reflections. Time will tell.
Most images will give a higher resolution version when clicked.
I expect that this will get to be a big page, so here are links
to various chapters of the year:
aboard Heritage Adventurer
January 3 - enroute to Auckland
Islands - New Year's Day found me at the Snares at the start of a
4 voyage contract with Heritage Expeditions. The Snares is one of
my favorite Zodiac cruises, and for this visit I was not driving -
allowing the possibility of photography. It was an exceptional
outing with the wildlife in full abundance. Most remarkable was
the volume and diversity of the seabirds feeding in the ocean.
There were birds from the smallest diving petrels to large
albatross. The Penguin slide was as active as I have ever seen it.
A great fun start to the year.
January 12 - enroute to Antarctica - The remainder of my
first voyage of the year continued in fine form. We made all the
landings/cruises at Auckland Islands, Macquarie and Campbell
despite constant high winds. While nothing of special note
occurred, and I had been there before, it is always a pleasure to
visit these wild places. At the changeover in Bluff, all of the
expedition team was buzzing - for me because I was getting back
together with many mates from last year - for others looking for
their first time to the Ross Sea. As always we have a large,
strong team. Let's go.
The Ross Sea voyages start with visits to the sub-Antarctic
and we again made all the landing/cruises.
Some images from this period - Enderby Island: megaherbs,
NZ Sea Lion colony, squabbling skuas, rata blossom, Auckland
Island shags nesting, Light mantled sooty albatross nesting,
Zodiacs at anchor - Campbell Island: Campbell albatross in flight,
pleurophylum, Southern Royal albatross - Macquarie Island: sleepy
elephant seal, yours truly with inquisitive Royals(photo credit
Lindie Nelson), Royal Penguin pair, King Penguins x 4
During this period I received the Log, Slideshow and Species List for the pre-Christmas Birding
Down Under voyage. While this was not in 2024, it was a fabulous
wildlife experience, so I have included the links here.
January 25 - cruising the sea ice edge in McMurdo Sound
- we had remarkably smooth and easy 4 days at sea from Macquarie to
Adare. Our good luck continued as we were able to make our
landing there in near perfect conditions. The Adelie colony was full
of fun and activity - the chicks were in the creche stage and pebble
stealing was in full swing. The hut was still in the process of
conservation. I drove for the Zodiac cruise in the evening with the
most fun display of porposing penguins that I have ever seen plus a
gruesome leopard seal kill. Excellent conditions persisted as we
continued south to Coulman Island for our first real pack ice and
Emperor Penguin of the voyage. Then into Terra Nova Bay for the
first antarctic conditions we have seen - colder and snowy. A
highlight for me was an evening visit to the site of the snow cave
where Scott's Northern Party overwintered on Inexpressible Island. Conditions cleared for
an evening Zodiac cruise at the Drygalski Ice Tongue (the pattern of
this voyage being after-dinner activities in the 24 hour daylight) -
but I was wiped out and went to bed early. From there we pushed
south to land at both Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds and Scott's hut at Cape Evans in the same afternoon/night. The
operation started at about 2pm and finished at 4am with a quick
break for dinner as we relocated. Conditions at Cape Royds were
stunning - Mount Erebus towering and light streaming into the hut.
As the "historian" I spent hours inside each hut as the PAX visited
as only 8 people are allowed inside and one must be a guide. There
is so much to see and ponder inside as the work done by the Antarctic Heritage Trust has brought history
to life. When we awoke the killer whales were off the starboard side
by the ice edge and the light was stunning.
Some images from this period - Cape Adare: panorama, Adelie
colony x 4 plus a video clip of the activity - Coulman Island: snow
petrel, emperor - Terra Nova Bay: snowman on the pool deck, Dygalski
Ice Tongue cruise - Ross Island historic huts: Mount Erebus, Cape
Royds hut, exterior detail, interior detail x 5 - Cape Evans: sleepy
Weddell Seal pup, hut from ship and with ship - McMurdo sea ice
edge: killer whales, sky
January 31 - in the Southern Ocean headed north - the
remainder of our time in McMurdo Sound and the Ross Sea included
return visits to Cape Evans and the sea ice edge. We made a long
landing at Cape Bird where the Adelie colony was fun as always but
the highlight for me was the aerial ballet of the Skuas. We stopped
for an early morning landing at Franklin Island on the way north.
Some images from this period - Cape Evans: McMurdo Sound from
Cape Evans with silhouettes - Sea ice edge: sea ice floes and
trans-Antarctic mountains monochrome, sea ice floes, a rather
abstract view of a subsurface killer whale, Yours truly at the
tiller - Cape Bird: Adelie with Beaufort Island, Penguin parade,
Skuas x 3
During this period I received the Log, Slideshow and Species List for the first voyage of the year
- Galapagos of the Southern Ocean.
- aboard Heritage Adventurer
February 5 - in port at Bluff - our passage north was
smooth and uneventful so we arrived at Campbell Island with 2 days to spend instead
of the normal 1. Day 1 featured 2 excellent Zodiac cruises - the
evening cruise with ~150 Southern Royal Albatross soaring overhead
and then skimming the surface to pass the boats below head height
was magic - one of my top wildlife experiences ever. Day 2 included
a landing to walk up to the Albatross colony - along the way the
"gardens" with all three species of the megaherb Pleurophyllum were stunning. The night and day
at sea to Bluff were the roughest of the season so far - maybe up to
7 meters with 50 knot gusts - but still no problem in this ship.
Some scenes from this period - Campbell Island: Light mantled
sooty albatross in flight in front of Campbell albatross colony,
ferns, Antarctic tern chick and adult. Sooty shearwaters taking
flight from a silver sea, Southern Royal albatross on the nest and
in flight, Yours truly driving the evening cruise (photo credit
Christian Engelke), Pleurophyllum Criniferum and Pleurophyllum
Speciosum closeup, Pleurophyllum gardens