Having transited from South Georgia to the southeastern portion of the Falkland Islands, we had our first stop in the windswept archipelago today. At Bleaker Island, a white sandy beach covered in sea cabbage welcomed us ashore.
Although our main goal was to view the Southern rockhopper penguins at Long Gulch, at least 37 species of birds breed on the island. From the beach, we had excellent sightings of grebes and multiple species of geese. We stopped by the pond and viewed a wide variety of birds, including the endemic Falklands steamer duck.
A symphony of sound greeted us as we arrived at the colony as Southern rockhopper penguins brayed continuously at each other. Some had eggs, while others had one or two chicks. It can be a harsh life at the colony, with the occasional brown skua swooping in to steal a chick and make a meal of it. Luckily, most penguin parents were dutiful and stayed with their chicks as a form of protection from would-be predators.
In the afternoon and evening, we cruised the Falkland Sound, which lies between West Falkland and East Falkland. Rarely transited by the National Geographic Explorer, this area made for a lovely end to our first day in the Falklands.