A Few Birds from the Drake Passage

We’re at sea on the Drake Passage, which has been relatively calm—a good thing, because the Drake is legendary for its rough seas. It takes about two days to get from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula, and while there’s plenty to do on board—attend lectures, chat with fellow passengers, eat the terrific food—there’s not a lot to photograph.

But we do go through areas from time to time where you can see seabirds going about their lives not far from the ship. Yesterday there was a lot of bird activity, and I had a lot of fun hanging out on the deck trying to photograph them. I thought I’d share a few images with you.

First, a bird we saw not on the Drake Passage but back in the harbor at Ushuaia: a kelp gull.

I’m told we may see kelp gulls again in Antarctica.

Perhaps the most common bird we were seeing Read more

More from Buenos Aires

This morning, while the majority of the passengers were still in the air en route to Buenos Aires, I took a cab over to Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve and spent several hours strolling with my camera. The reserve has an interesting history—it had been a dumping ground for construction debris, and then nature decided to take over, and now it’s an amazing green space in the shadow of the city’s skyscrapers.

I saw a lot of birds I couldn’t identify, but was lucky to encounter a couple of guides who looked at the images on the back of my camera and told me what they were. I haven’t had a chance to sort out the info they gave me; maybe I’ll post more about that another time. The coolest bird I was able to photograph was the one I’ve posted at right—I knew it had to be a bird of prey, but that’s about it. The guides told me it’s a chimango caracara. I did a Google Images search and am not convinced, but I’m sure they know their birds—especially the local ones—a heckuva lot better than I do.

By the time I got back to the hotel, the passengers on the trip were starting to arrive in large numbers. The scene in the hotel lobby Read more

We’re Gathering in Buenos Aires

The passengers on “Expedition to Antarctica”—about 200 of us altogether—are beginning to arrive in Buenos Aires, the starting point for our adventure. The official arrival date isn’t until tomorrow, but some passengers (including me) opted to get here a day early, and I suspect a few moved up their departure in order to avoid the winter storm that’s hammering the East Coast.

(The weather here in Buenos Aires is a decided contrast to what much of the U.S. is experiencing right now, as evidenced by the AccuWeather forecast for today. Don’t hate us.)

Getting to Buenos Aires typically involves an overnight flight from the U.S. For me, the trip started in State College on Wednesday with flights to Philadelphia and then Miami, and then a flight that left Miami at 10:45 pm and arrived in Buenos Aires about nine hours later.

Here’s an iPhone photo I took out the plane window as we climbed out of Philadelphia yesterday afternoon; it was the ice in the water that caught my eye. The guy in the seat next to me Read more