After months of waiting, our friend (let's call her "Bx") was finally arriving at Mount Pleasant Airport, 35 miles down a very bumpy road from Stanley, the main town. Despite the lack of traffic on the roads, we contrived to arrive after the weekly LAN flight from Chile had touched down. But, luckily, the formalities at the small airport delayed Bx about an hour, so we managed to be there when she emerged from Customs and Immigration.
(Usually the flight is virtually empty, but there was a major conference in Stanley last week, and delegates were arriving 'en masse'.)
|Bull Sea Lion heading for Tussac grass|
|55 stones, 770lbs., 350kg of rippling muscles. 3 times the size of the female.|
|Very few rockhoppers still around.|
|Striated caracara. Very rare.|
And to make sure Bx saw as much Falklands wildlife in a short space of time, we also had a flying visit to the Nature Reserve that is Sealion Island.
|Caracara hoping, in vain, for some crumbs.|
|Dreaming of squid.....|
|Is that a wink?|
|"Oi, Big Boy! Over here!"|
|Skuas defending their potential meal of a gull chick.|
|Gull mobbing Skuas.|
|Gentoo chick on nest, showing its toilet trajectory.|
|Furry Skua, and penguin, chicks.|
And all this without seeing any orcas. These efficient hunters had apparently been frequent visitors earlier in the season when the elephant seal pups made their first forays into the sea. Dozens had been killed, and several camera crews had visited to capture the dramatic scenes. Expect another BBC Wildlife programme to be released soon!
|Gentoo penguins auditioning for "The Sound of Music"!|
Meanwhile, back in Stanley, we said sad farewells to Bx, whom we hoped had had her curiosity about the Falklands satisfied. Normal activities resumed. Some cruise ships appeared on the horizon and one or two actually managed to land passengers, despite the wind. I was a busy Penguin Warden again, answering questions like - Why aren't these penguins as big as the ones on TV? What do you feed them? When do they dance...? Sometimes the weather was unfriendly, but on one morning I saw dolphins 3 times, which makes up for the hail and horizontal rain.
|Star Princess about to disgorge 2,500 passengers. About the same number as live in the Falklands.|
My wife works in the tax industry and a few of her ex-colleagues in the UK have complained that I never mention tax on here........
Just to say we bumped into a couple from the Isle of Man on SeaLion Island, and at one point it seemed no-one cared about penguins or seals, as the conversation at the bar revolved around the riveting topic of the tax regimes of the Falklands, the Isle of Man and the UK. Still, it helped me catch up on my sleep!
And then, in Stanley, we were explaining to a friendly local who was having slight difficulty in hearing the conversation in a busy pub, that both my wife and Bx worked in Tax. Noticing that he hadn't quite heard, I said loudly that they both liked "TAX". Frowning, he replied, "Tacks? Oh, we had a shipwreck about 30 years ago, and all that could be salvaged was the cargo of tacks. We had enough tacks to last us years! Would you like some?"....
|Magellanic penguin chick|