Saturday, December 8, 2007

On the Albatross


The Falkland Islands may be famous for their penguins, but the breeding colonies of black-browed albatrosses are, in my opinion, even more fascinating. In many parts of southern South America, this striking bird glides gracefully over the ocean, but only in the Falklands is it possible to appreciate its near porcelain beauty up close and personal. The first time ever I visited Saunders Island, in the northwestern sector of the archipelago, I sat near a steeply sloping breeding colony near The Neck, the sandy isthmus that links the eastern and western sectors of the island; I marveled as the birds, awkward on land, waddled within range of the normal 50mm lens on my SLR. The resulting photograph, though, was so perfect that some people have thought it was a taxidermy shot.

This time, though, I spent several hours shooting the birds at the Rookery Mountain site, and the closeups of breeding pairs preening each other should prove that these birds are not just stunningly beautiful, but that they are startlingly alive.

I've just flown from the Islands back to Punta Arenas, Chile, so this may be my last post on them for a while. For now, I'll continue to wonder why so many people who marvel at the approachability of wildlife in the Everglades and Galápagos continue to overlook the Falklands.

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