Saturday, 26 December 2015

Antarctic Voyage Day 8 – 26 December 2015, Aicho Island

This morning we woke up to the good news that my friend and her parents were evacuated from the boat at about 4 am, to catch a flight to Punto Arenas. Her dad was now in hospital there and being treated for his heart attack. Hopefully her dad will be well enough to travel back to Vancouver very soon.

The boat moved south, so that at 10 am we could travel by Zodiac to Aicho (HO) Island, where there was a colony of Chinstrap and a few colonies of Gentoo Penguins. There were about 5,000 of each but most were out of view. We had to walk through snow to get to them. There were also Brown Skuas getting hold of eggs and breaking them open. Sometimes they were able to grab a Gentoo Penguin chick.

Aicho Island, Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin colony, Aicho Island, Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin on nest, Aicho Island, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguin on nest covered in snow, Aicho Island, Antarctica

Brown Skua attacking Gentoo Penguin colony, Aichio Island, Antarctica

Brown Skua attacking Gentoo Penguin colony, Aichio Island, Antarctica

We trekked through deep snow to get the top of the island, where it was really cold and windy.  This was the first excursion where most people returned to the boat early. This was what apparently Antarctica land excursions are usually like, rather than the beautiful weather we had been having.

Chinstrap Penguin, Aicho Island, Antarctica

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig near Aicho Island, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Gentoo Penguin
Photograph taken by and copyright Jim (Zhimin) Zong's
For copies of this and other amazing photos from this trip contact

We were meant to be landing at Robert Point in the afternoon, where we were not able to land before due to windy conditions. Again today it was too windy to land and so instead we pressed south.  On our journey, we continued to see lots of Humpback Whales.

Final itinerary of our Antarctic Voyage
Photograph taken by and copyright 
Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Before we came to Antarctica, there were three birds I really wanted to see.  The first was Emperor Penguin, which we had no chance of seeing, the second was Wandering Albatross which we hoped to see if we put in the hours sea watching and had luck on our side. The third was the enigmatic Snow Petrel, a bird you can not see outside these waters and usually next to floating ice on the water. In May, I did an interview for Springwatch and got to meet Chris Packham. As I was a world birder he asked me if I had seen lots of different birds.  Snow Petrel was one that we both said that we really wanted to see. Our ship ornithologist Simon told us that Chris Packham had been on board our ship, The Vavilov, a few weeks before us and had seen a Snow Petrel. Knowing that Chris Packham has seen Snow Petrel somehow added urgency to my own search.

I can’t express how beautiful this place is.  Everything is on a huge scale.  The sea, the icebergs and the sunsets.

Best birds and animals of the day:

Gentoo Penguin
Chinstrap Penguin
Southern Fulmar
Brown Skua
Humpback Whale

About the Writer

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 13 year old young birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent.

Mya-Rose is a Bristol European Green Capital 2015 Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol 2015 Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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