Sunday 7 February 2016

Antarctica...a great way to start the year

Well the year is off to a busy start.  I headed to the Antarctic with Lindblad Expeditions onboard the National Geographic Orion on Boxing Day, and embarked on 28 December.  I was onboard for three fantastic trips to the Antarctic Peninsula, basically 10-day trips down across the infamous Drake Passage, to spend as much time on the Peninsula as possible.  Each trip was different, with penguin chicks just hatching as we arrived down there the first time, and then being little bundles of fluff and cuteness by the time I finished the third trip.  The weather, the ice, and the experiences different on every trip.  Don't think because you have been to the Antarctic, you have 'Done that', because almost more than any other part of the World, there is so much change during the season, and so many different factors which play a part in your experience.
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


  1. Amazing sunsets, Brent! Photos are stunning, as usual. Really would love to do this trip sometime, as you make it sound magical. :)

  2. amazing shots, loved the one with the Gentoo!