Upon first arriving at the Falkland Island archipelago on our way to Antarctica, we passed by a long stretch of coastline that was home to a huge population of black-browed albatrosses. From a distance, every white-black point marked a bird, and there seemed countless ones, all the way up into the hills. In addition, there was a constant soaring of birds flying around the ship, and coming and going from land where they were nesting.
The next day, we were visiting one of the smaller islands to see rockhopper penguins. As we walked from the bay, where we had landed with our zodiacs, towards the cliff with the penguins on the other side of the island, progressively more birds were zooming over our heads and all across the air. With their huge wingspans of up to 2-3 meters (6-7 feet), it was brown-browed albatrosses once again, but this time up and close.
It turned out that there weren’t just rockhoppers inhabiting the steep cliff all the way down to the water but also a large albatross colony. They were sharing this huge space along with other birds such as some cheeky-looking cormorants. The view of this quite lively assembly of black and white creatures was just spectacular. Countless albatrosses were resting in between the rockhopper looking all big and fluffy. Compared to the rockhopper with their yellow punk-style feathery head gear, they came across as rather calm and generally undisturbed by any of penguin business that seem to include constant chattering and fighting over nesting materials or other things.
Black-browed albatross are truly majestic seabirds. It was marvelous to watch them elegantly fly up and down the hills and precisely pinpointing their landings in between the penguin crowd. I had not gone on our voyage to see many, or even any, birds but this became a very enjoyable experience. This was solidified by the fact that as we sailed on for the next two days towards the South Shetland Islands, albatrosses and other birds such as giant petrels and Southern Caracara, would accompany our ship for hundreds of miles. When we saw our first iceberg, albatrosses were also flying around which made for a wonderful and celebratory milestone on our way to Antarctica.
Overall, seeing the albatrosses all calm or even sleeping in between the busy rockhoppers was a stark reminder that even when things become all hustling and bustling around you, it’s important to stay calm or take a break to reconnect with yourself before moving forward again. Being well rested physically and mentally makes it so much easier to explore the world in full flight.