I was a little apprehensive about being on the NG Orion during this season, thinking small ship, big Drake, but getting on that ship I again remembered how incredibly stable she is. With stabilisers that are twice the size they would normally be for a ship her size, she rides incredibly well through the water, even in 7-8m seas. And, rather surprisingly even in these seas I didn't feel seasick at all!
These three trips saw a few firsts for me, even though I have done something like 14 trips to the Antarctic. One one of these trips I refund a moulting Emperor penguin, way up high on a snowbank, this my first Emperor on the Peninsula, having only briefly seen two birds at sea between South Georgia and the Peninsula a long time ago. Also my first Ross Seal, an absolutely epic animal, that is very rarely sighted in this part of the World! And my first time below the Antarctic Circle, which, although an imaginary line, represents so much in our minds.
So some pretty spectacular trips, on an absolutely fantastic ship - with a great crew, Captain, and Expedition team, this really is a pretty unbeatable ship! A few images to enjoy below...
On the way home I stopped in for a meeting with Zegrahm Expeditions in Seattle. My first trip to Seattle in the winter...and the weather was not too bad! I have to say I love Seattle, what a cool city, and so many great friends there. Was a blast!
And now it is time to head out on my next adventure - a 21-day birding tour through New Zealand, of course as leader for my own company Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ. Looking forward to a great trip, and hoping the weather and birds behave! I will be posting a daily blog here during the trip, so keep coming back!
And if you haven't seen already, I am now posting to Instagram rather regularly. My Instagram name is ecovista - so join me there. I continue to use Twitter - @B1RDER and of course my Eco-Vista Facebook page.
|Bailey Head chinstrap colony|
|Type B Killer whale against the sun|
|Adelie penguins on fast ice|
|Not a bad way to spend the last day of 2015|
|Porpoising Adelie penguins along the fast ice edge|
|Adelie at the nest with a chick and probable infertile egg|
|First sunrise of 2016|
|New Years day tabular berg|
|South Polar skua with remains of a penguin chick|
|Yep, another crap shot...|
|Beautiful ice near Paradise Bay|
|Wandeing albatross in the Drake Passage|
|Light-mantled sooty albatross motion blur in the snow on the Drake Passage|
|Two South Polar skuas try their best to make a Gentoo with chick nervous|
|"Captain, can we put the gangway down?" - landing at Neko Harbour|
|The Lemaire Channel on a great day|
|Adelie penguins at Petermann Island|
|The National Geographic Orion in the calm of Pleneau Bay|
|Emperor penguin moulting!|
|Beautiful bergs and pack ice at almost midnight|
|Crabeater seal on fast ice in beautiful evening light|
|Ross seal on fast ice at almost midnight|
|Long exposure from the bow in the Lemaire Cahnnel|
|Motion blur of a Cape petrel during a Drake crossing|
|Spectacular sunset looking towards the Argentine Islands south of the Lemaire Channel|
|Same sunset, with the sun poking out|
|And again, but looking north this time|
|Dreamy psychodelic sunset with long exposure|
|Same night heading back northwards through the Lemaire Channel as the moon rose|
|Looking south back towards the sunset as I headed back to the hot tub...someones gotta use it right?!|
|A young Weddell seal crawls past a guest, peering back|
|A young Weddell seal moves along through the snow|
|A Weddell seal stretches and looks up|
|Humpback whale against the light|
|Humpback fluke with large berg in the background|
|Humpback fluke against the light|
|Bubbles coming to the surface from bubble-net feeding humpbacks|
|A humpback whale just about to surface right beside the ship|