Packed with Penguins
Saturday 14th Jan
I still can't believe I am here! And today was positively packed with penguins! Blessed with bright sunshine again, we were driven bumpity-bump cross-country and entertained by Adrian, a sheep farmer who has lived on the Falklands a mere 52 years. Our destination was Kidney Cove and the surrounding area. The first stop-off was cliffs to visit a gang of gutsy rockhoppers...
... followed by a gentoo colony...
... a hilltop with magellanic penguins...
... and finally even some kings.
I was in penguin heaven! My obsessive photo-taking was only outdone by Ursula, who is a real photographer and is keen to get more penguin chick shots for her own book. There were plenty of opportunities today.
I was amazed at how different the species are and how they all have their own quirks.
The Magellanic penguins are marked with distinctive bands of back and white around the face and belly. Their call is a loud braying and when early explorers heard them in the hills, they assumed they were donkeys. So they are often called 'jackass penguins'. They dig burrows to keep their chicks safe, and it's extraordinary to see them popping their heads out of holes in the ground like rabbits.
The gentoo penguins, with their orange beaks and their chaotic antics, were adorable. I especially fell for the eager, fluffy chicks who kept chasing their parents for food in frenzied excitement. And yes, there was plenty of guano around.
The kings were much more staid and dignified.
The coastline scenery is stunning, every beach a perfect curve of pure white sand, fringed by turquoise lapping water. Such beaches in the UK would be a real tourist magnet, full of sun-loungers and flanked with carparks and coffee shops. No such thing here! They are untrammelled and populated only by penguins, ducks, geese and other birdlife. Oh, and we saw dolphins leaping in the waves too.
I couldn't resist taking off my shoes and socks and paddling with the penguins. It is only our second day, but how on earth could this be bettered?