January 5, 2015, Drake Lake -- It takes two full days to sail from Antarctica across the Drake Passage to the Falkland Islands, so today and tomorrow are sea days.
I spent 10 hours birding from the ship's bridge, only coming down for meals. I added nine new seabirds to my year--bringing the cumulative total to 25 species!
Highlights were four species of albatrosses, several petrels, and two different pods of hourglass dolphins. Calm seas today made for Drake Lake, which, according to the wind forecast, might turn into Drake Shake tomorrow... All the ship's interior hallways have been lined with barf bags, just in case.
I am lucky to be sharing this trip with a sharp Californian birder named Steve Bailey, who is working as the other naturalist on board. Steve, who lives in Arcata, has seen more than 7,000 species of birds and his marine mammal "life list" is the second-highest in the world. He also happens to be one of only four people who have seen more than 3,000 birds in a year--a few years ago, he spent eight months in a productive series of countries and ended up with a year list of 3,110, still the third-highest ever. He is appreciative of my goal to hit 5,000, and it's great to have someone at the start of this adventure who can understand exactly what it entails! We spent most of the day together on the bridge, spotting birds and swapping stories.