Bleaker Island – Saturday

Despite my plans to be up for sunrise I ended up falling back to sleep and having a rather late start. When I finally managed to get myself moving I headed over in the direction of the rockhopper colony, just a 15 minute walk from the settlement. On the way, though, I was distracted by a group of skuas which were hanging around and scrapping with each other, both on the ground and in the air.

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Once I’d had my fill I carried on to the cliffs and clambered down onto the rocks in the hope of walking around to the rockhoppers were they would exit the water. Unfortunately my plan didn’t work out as I encountered a large chasm in the rock, known as Long Gulch, and I had to work my way back up through the tussac grass and walk around it to finally get to the rockhoppers. This was probably the biggest rockhopper colony I’d seen and there were also a large number of cormorants. I spent some time photographing them, and then settled myself down with my back to the tussac to read my book for a while and enjoy the penguin chattering in the background. The penguins are moulting at this time of the year and look rather sorry for themselves.

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Rockhopper penguin

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Rock shag

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Dark-faced ground tyrant

Having decided to move on I headed back towards the gate only to be surprised by a person emerging from the tussac grass. I had heard the plane come in earlier so I suppose that the appearance of other people shouldn’t entirely have been a surprise, but I was in my own little world! Having shown her around the rockhopper colony, we set off together to see what we could find in the pond and on the beach.

The pond was rather quiet although there were a few silver teal at the far end and some crested ducks closer by, so we didn’t stay for too long before continuing on to the beach.

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Crested duck

There were far less birds on the beach than there had been the previous day and we didn’t really stop too much on our way down to the far end where the gentoos can be found. When we got there we found a hive of activity with gentoos porpoising and coming in on the rocks. I spent quite a bit of time trying to photograph the gentoos porpoising and I wish I’d stayed there for longer. Whilst I was busy I put my bag down to make things easier, and fortunately my companion was more alert than I was as she caught the Johnny Rooks attacking it and had to rescue it. It now has a small hole through to the padding on the back but fortunately is not damaged beyond use!

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Getting rather cold, we took a short walk along the path that the penguins follow to their rookeries and then headed back towards the settlement, where we had a very welcome cup of tea. I also had an important date with the radio at 6pm as the telephones and internet had been down, so it was the only way to find out what time my flight would be leaving on Sunday. Until recently, radio was the main method of communication on the islands and the next day’s flight schedules are still broadcast every evening after the weather and shipping forecast. Luckily for me I was scheduled on a midday flight giving me the full morning to enjoy myself.

listening to flight on radio

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