Birdwatching In Antarctica
Whilst the wildlife is not quite as abundant in Antarctica as it is in the Arctic, there is still plenty to see for those who are passionate about nature. And if you are particularly interested in the birdlife on offer at the southern extreme of the Earth, Hurtigruten has recently announced an itinerary that could be perfect.
David Lindo, known as the Urban Birder and seen on television shows like Countryfile and Springwatch, will be joining a sailing 15-day Antarctica Cruise departing on the 16th of February 2017. He will offer onboard lectures and interesting insight into the different types of birds that can be found here. But, aside from the adorable penguins, what can you expect to find?
Albatrosses are the largest seabird you will sure during your trip to Antarctica and the black-browed species is the most commonly found here. Their giant wingspan helps them to cover miles when searching for food in the form of squid and crustaceans and they can often live up to 60 years of age. The chances are that you will hear their crackling cries before you see them and they are most likely to be found on the Falkland Islands or South Georgia.
A wide range of petrels patrol the Antarctic skies, from the giant petrel to the Wilson’s storm petrel. One of the most fascinating is the snow petrel which, as you might expect, is completely white in colour. This is one of only three birds that have been known to breed directly on the Antarctic Peninsula and has even been seen at the South Pole. You may also see the beautiful black and white markings of the cape petrel following your ship as they travel between the rich seas and their nesting spots on the cliffs of the Subantarctic islands.
Sometimes called the blue-eyed shag, due to the bright skin around their eyes, these birds can also be seen on the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands although in smaller numbers than the resident albatrosses and petrels. They have adapted to the harsh climate in this part of the world by choosing not to spread their wings in order to dry them after they dive into the Southern Ocean in search of fish. Incidentally, the imperial shag can dive down as far as 50m to locate crustaceans from under rocks and within clumps of kelp.
Looking very similar to the Arctic tern, the Antarctic tern is likely to be a common sight on your cruise. Whilst they winter on the coasts of Argentina and South Africa, they spend the southern hemisphere’s summer months breeding and feeding on the Subantarctic islands. Their diet is made up of small fish and algae and they have a defence mechanism of foraging in large flocks whenever there are predators around.
If you would like to learn more about Hurtigruten’s birdwatching cruise with David Lindo, on which RSPB members receive 5% off, or any of our other wildlife watching cruises, contact our team today.