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See this triplist in printable PDF format with media only on page 1.
These Macaroni Penguins porpoised (or is it "penguined"?) out of the water alongside our ship as we cruised the beautiful coastline of South Georgia. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
How could it not be great? Our 2018 tour through the Southern Ocean allowed us to absorb the wildlife spectacles of the Falklands and South Georgia, enjoy impressive flocks of pelagic seabirds, and visit the icy tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. This was a phenomenal journey across a route of vast scope, and Bret and I were very happy to travel with our group of Field Guides birders and with the other guests of Oceanwide Expeditions on the wonderful ship M/V Ortelius.
On our first day, February 1st, we started out in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina with a day trip to Tierra del Fuego National Park where we found Andean Condors, Magellanic Woodpeckers, White-throated Treerunners, and even a scarce Culpeo Fox! It was splendid to spend some time among the lovely Nothofagus (Southern Beech) forest before heading off to an entirely treeless realm.
We walked around Ushuaia, finding some Southern Cone ducks like Red Shoveler and Flightless Steamer-Duck and watching Dark-bellied Cinclodes and Dolphin Gulls before we gathered to board our ship, the Ortelius. This is a comfortable and highly seaworthy vessel operated by Oceanwide Expeditions. The first evening aboard, we met the expedition staff and practiced safety drills as we sailed east out of the Beagle Channel.
Leaving Tierra del Fuego behind, we steamed northeast toward the Falkland Islands, finding our first Royal Albatrosses, Gray-backed Storm-Petrels, and Peale's Dolphins along the way. In the Falklands, we had two days to make landings, and we visited Carcass Island, Saunders Island, and Stanley. Between these sites we found four species of penguins (Magellanic, Gentoo, Southern Rockhopper, and a few Kings), nesting Black-browed Albatrosses, Ruddy-headed Geese, White-bridled Finches, and Rufous-chested Dotterels. Weather was actually quite sunny and warm for our first day at Carcass and Saunders, though cooler temperatures and a stiff breeze accompanied us across the tundra-like grasslands of Stanley.
Next, Ortelius took us eastward along the Scotia Arc toward the wildlife-rich island of South Georgia. En route, we were entertained by excellent seabirding, with hundreds of Soft-plumaged Petrels, five species of albatrosses, and even a dozen rare Gray Petrels. The seas picked up a bit but we made it to Shag Rocks and then finally, magnificent South Georgia. Four full days on this huge island heaving with life left us full of memories of nesting Wandering Albatrosses, massive colonies of King Penguins, beaches covered in Antarctic Fur Seals and Southern Elephant Seals, and huge, ice-covered peaks looming in every direction. At several locations, we also learned about the human history of the island and the legacy of international whaling and exploration.
Leaving South Georgia, we sailed southwest into some of the heaviest seas of the trip. Outer decks of Ortelius were closed for safety reasons, but we were still able to watch the sea from inside the spacious bridge. We were able to study diving-petrels, Snow Petrels, and even a rare Kerguelen Petrel as we crossed to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, where conditions were certainly much calmer. Oceanwide staff offered informative lectures during the ocean crossings for those who wanted a bit more variety in their daily routines.
On our first morning in Antarctica proper, we cruised around in zodiacs in Hope Bay. This would have been fantastic on its own due to the lovely weather and amazing scenery, but then the Leopard Seals showed up and started hunting Adelie Penguins all around us. We watched in awe for about an hour as one seal caught penguins, released them, caught more, and eventually ate one in gruesome fashion. A jaw-dropping, primal experience, to be sure. While in Antarctica, we also visited Brown Bluff, d'Hainaut Island, and Cierva Cove, finding Killer Whales, nesting Gentoo Penguins, Minke Whales, and South Polar Skuas - life everywhere, and ICE, magnificent, stunning ICE.
Leaving the continent behind, we had one more stop to make before returning to South America. We cruised through the sunken caldera of Deception Island and then made a landing at Half Moon Island in the South Shetlands. Here we experienced a beautiful and noisy colony of Chinstrap Penguins, and some members of the group took an Antarctic swim from the beach - brrrrrr!
From the South Shetlands, we steamed north into the feared Drake Passage of seafaring lore. However, this time we had a rather placid crossing without any storms to speak of, and actually had extra time to visit Cape Horn on our way back to the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia. Home again!
Bret put together six compilation videos that combine a variety of his videos and those of several participants who contributed their images and videos. These videos run for about 90 minutes - it's basically a feature film highlighting our adventure together.
Thanks for your companionship and spirit during this memorable journey. We hope you'll always remember your time at the end of the world!
-Tom and Bret
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-NECKED SWAN (Cygnus melancoryphus)
UPLAND GOOSE (Chloephaga picta)
KELP GOOSE (Chloephaga hybrida)
RUDDY-HEADED GOOSE (Chloephaga rubidiceps)
FLYING STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres patachonicus)
This immature King Penguin looked a little soggy in its "Oakum Boy" suit as it wandered through lots of stately, colorful adults. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
FALKLAND STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres brachypterus)
CRESTED DUCK (Lophonetta specularioides)
RED SHOVELER (Spatula platalea)
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (SOUTH GEORGIA) (Anas georgica georgica)
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Anas georgica spinicauda)
YELLOW-BILLED TEAL (Anas flavirostris)
GREAT GREBE (Podiceps major)
KING PENGUIN (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
ADELIE PENGUIN (Pygoscelis adeliae)
GENTOO PENGUIN (Pygoscelis papua)
CHINSTRAP PENGUIN (Pygoscelis antarcticus)
Video 1 - Tierra del Fuego - Most of our group arrived into Ushuaia a couple of days ahead of boarding Ortelius. As tour participants’ logistics worked out close to our departure date, we heard from a number of folks that they would like to take advantage of part of their pre-tour time to visit nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park. Thus, we hastily arranged a day-trip to the park to look for Magellanic Woodpecker, Andean Condor, and whatever else might grace our binoculars. What a fun and memorable day 1 February 2018 turned out to be! Next morning, we also squeezed in a little birding around the Beagle Channel near our hotel, which produced a handful of birds not seen elsewhere. (Video by Bret Whitney).
MAGELLANIC PENGUIN (Spheniscus magellanicus)
MACARONI PENGUIN (Eudyptes chrysolophus)
SOUTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENGUIN (Eudyptes chrysocome)
GRAY-HEADED ALBATROSS (Thalassarche chrysostoma)
BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS (BLACK-BROWED) (Thalassarche melanophris melanophris)
The excitement level was very high as this Gray Petrel winged its way in to the side of the Ortelius during our crossing between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS (Phoebetria palpebrata)
ROYAL ALBATROSS (SOUTHERN) (Diomedea epomophora epomophora)
WANDERING ALBATROSS (SNOWY) (Diomedea exulans exulans)
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL (Macronectes giganteus)
NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL (Macronectes halli)
SOUTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialoides)
CAPE PETREL (Daption capense capense)
SNOW PETREL (Pagodroma nivea)
KERGUELEN PETREL (Aphrodroma brevirostris)
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL (Pterodroma mollis)
BLUE PETREL (Halobaena caerulea)
This Leopard Seal hunted juvenile Adelie Penguins as we watched from just feet away in Hope Bay at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is one of the greatest wildlife behavior encounters any of us had ever seen - absolutely spectacular. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
ANTARCTIC PRION (Pachyptila desolata)
SLENDER-BILLED PRION (Pachyptila belcheri)
GRAY PETREL (Procellaria cinerea)
WHITE-CHINNED PETREL (Procellaria aequinoctialis)
GREAT SHEARWATER (Ardenna gravis)
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)
LITTLE SHEARWATER (SUBANTARCTIC) (Puffinus assimilis elegans)
Video 2 - To the Falklands! - 2 February: Having boarded Ortelius and duly completed safety drills, we scrambled to the upper decks as the ship sailed smoothly through the Beagle Channel in the waning evening light. Next morning we headed for the Falkland Islands in earnest! Here is a video compilation of those opening days aboard Ortelius, around and in the Falklands, with landings at Carcass and Saunders Islands, and Stanley (3-5 February). (Video by Bret Whitney).
COMMON DIVING-PETREL (Pelecanoides urinatrix)
SOUTH GEORGIA DIVING-PETREL (Pelecanoides georgicus)
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus)
GRAY-BACKED STORM-PETREL (Garrodia nereis)
BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL (Fregetta tropica)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
MAGELLANIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax magellanicus)
SOUTH GEORGIA SHAG (Phalacrocorax georgianus)
South Georgia Pipits graced every single one of our landings at South Georgia. These rare but increasing songbirds are incredibly fearless and will walk right up to observers. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
IMPERIAL CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax atriceps atriceps)
IMPERIAL CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax atriceps albiventer)
ANTARCTIC SHAG (Phalacrocorax bransfieldensis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
BLACK-FACED IBIS (Theristicus melanopis)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
ANDEAN CONDOR (Vultur gryphus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)
SNOWY SHEATHBILL (Chionis albus)
BLACKISH OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ater)
Video 3 - South Georgia Part I - Following a fabulous couple of days at the Falklands, it was with great excitement that we turned the bow south toward fabled South Georgia. Here’s a chance to relive some of the very special moments we experienced at the various landings we made along the northeastern islands and shores of South Georgia, starting with some fabulous seabirding and Shag Rocks (5-7 Feb), followed by the Bay of Isles (rainy Salisbury Palin and crystal-clear Prion Island, 8 February), and then, considerably farther south/east, to Fortuna Bay (Stromness whaling station) and Cumberland Bay (Grytviken) on 9 February. (Video by Bret Whitney).
MAGELLANIC OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus leucopodus)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)
RUFOUS-CHESTED DOTTEREL (Charadrius modestus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SOUTH AMERICAN SNIPE (MAGELLANIC) (Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica)
Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)
CHILEAN SKUA (Stercorarius chilensis)
SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Stercorarius maccormicki)
BROWN SKUA (SUBANTARCTIC) (Stercorarius antarcticus lonnbergi)
BROWN SKUA (FALKLAND) (Stercorarius antarcticus antarcticus)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BROWN-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus maculipennis)
DOLPHIN GULL (Leucophaeus scoresbii)
Video 4 - South Georgia II - Although 10 February dawned rather rainy (but calm!) at Godthul Bay, our afternoon landing at Ocean Harbour was under delightfully clear skies. Our final day on South Georgia, 11 February, was action-packed, with an especially leisurely and memorable early-morning landing at Gold Harbour followed by seabirding around Cooper Island and Drygalski Fjord, both near the southernmost reaches of South Georgia. Three fairly rough but seabird-rich days were in store as we made our way steadily south, across the Scotia Sea. (Video by Bret Whitney).
KELP GULL (Larus dominicanus)
SOUTH AMERICAN TERN (Sterna hirundinacea)
ANTARCTIC TERN (Sterna vittata)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
AUSTRAL PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium nana)
MAGELLANIC WOODPECKER (Campephilus magellanicus)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
STRIATED CARACARA (Phalcoboenus australis)
Some of the Soft-plumaged Petrels that we saw during our open-water crossings came very close for excellent studies. We were amazed by the careening, devil-may-care flight style of these acrobats. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SOUTHERN CARACARA (Caracara plancus)
CHIMANGO CARACARA (Milvago chimango)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
AUSTRAL PARAKEET (Enicognathus ferrugineus)
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
WHITE-THROATED TREERUNNER (Pygarrhichas albogularis)
BLACKISH CINCLODES (Cinclodes antarcticus)
GRAY-FLANKED CINCLODES (Cinclodes oustaleti)
DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES (Cinclodes patagonicus)
THORN-TAILED RAYADITO (Aphrastura spinicauda)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
TUFTED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes parulus)
WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA (CHILEAN) (Elaenia albiceps chilensis)
AUSTRAL NEGRITO (Lessonia rufa)
Video 5 - Antarctic Peninsula - We awoke on the morning of 15 February to the sight we had all been anxiously awaiting (would we ever get there?): ANTARCTICA on the horizon! The weather was fine and the water thankfully quite calm as we steamed into Antarctic Sound, massive icebergs and continental glaciers gleaming in the early morning light. It was serenely spectacular. Today’s stops were at Hope Bay (Esperanza Station, which most of us opted out of in favor of zodiac cruising among Adelie Penguins and hungry Leopard Seals), and cruising the Brown Bluff area. (Video by Bret Whitney).
DARK-FACED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola maclovianus)
FIRE-EYED DIUCON (Xolmis pyrope)
CHILEAN SWALLOW (Tachycineta leucopyga)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
COBB'S WREN (Troglodytes cobbi)
SEDGE WREN (AUSTRAL) (Cistothorus platensis falklandicus)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
AUSTRAL THRUSH (Turdus falcklandii)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
CORRENDERA PIPIT (Anthus correndera)
This young Wandering Albatross was one of our final sightings of this huge species for the cruise - and it was certainly the most curious. This massive beast repeatedly passed by within 15 feet of us as we stood on the 7th deck of Ortelius, mouths agape. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SOUTH GEORGIA PIPIT (Anthus antarcticus)
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
PATAGONIAN SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus patagonicus)
WHITE-BRIDLED FINCH (Melanodera melanodera)
Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
LONG-TAILED MEADOWLARK (Sturnella loyca)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
BLACK-CHINNED SISKIN (Spinus barbatus)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
OLD WORLD RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus) [I]
DUSKY DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus obscurus)
PEALE'S DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus australis)
HOURGLASS DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus cruciger)
Video 6 - Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands - We left the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula behind to round the tip, bound southwest for Trinity Island (Mikkelsen Harbour and d'Hainaut Island) and Cierva Cove (16 February). The following day, in the South Shetland Islands, we made our final landing — and (for some) the “Polar Plunge”! — at Half Moon Island. Two seabirding days were required to make the crossing of the Drake Passage, which was mercifully calm, even in the vicinity of Cape Horn. We completed our voyage back at Ushuaia, disembarking Ortelius on the morning of 20 February. (Video by Bret Whitney).
LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE (Globicephala melas)
KILLER WHALE (Orcinus orca)
HECTOR'S BEAKED WHALE (Mesoplodon hectori)
UNIDENTIFIED BEAKED WHALE SP. (Ziphiidae sp.)
ANTARCTIC MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera bonaerensis)
SEI WHALE (Balaenoptera borealis)
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)
SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE (Eubalaena australis)
CULPEO FOX (Lycalopex culpaeus)
This Black-browed Albatross was just one of thousands that followed Ortelius during our voyage. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
SOUTH AMERICAN SEA LION (Otaria flavescens)
ANTARCTIC FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus gazella)
SOUTH AMERICAN FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus australis)
CRABEATER SEAL (Lobodon carcinophagus)
LEOPARD SEAL (Hydrurga leptonyx)
WEDDELL SEAL (Leptonychotes weddelli)
SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL (Mirounga leonina)
Totals for the tour: 101 bird taxa and 20 mammal taxa