Saturday morning saw Phoebe up and out of bed a lot earlier than she (or anyone else) might have wished as we joined our neighbours for a trip around the harbour – well, Gill & Phoebe did. Everyone had to wait for Bill to escape from work before setting sail.
Actually, there was no sail to set and for the ‘harbour’ one has to envisage only a couple of military jetties (warships, for the mooring of) surrounded by wide open spaces, interspersed with some stunning beaches (actually, that’s a description of most of the Falklands). The boat was no kiss-me-quick special either, but our very own landing craft (military designations being kept to ourselves for obvious reasons!) which had the advantage of allowing us to land without getting wet feet.
A short trip took us to Pandora’s Point and the chance to visit the Gentoo colony there. Cue attempts by Gill to shoo the Skuas away from the chicks and the general debate as to quite why these creatures often insist on taking a much longer land trip from the sea than seems natural. As ever, however, there was the general contentment that seems to be associated with watching a colony of these birds looking after their young and getting on with life.
Having re-embarked, our trip over to one of the small islands was diverted for some 45 minutes when one of the Search & Rescue helicopters spied the boat and took the opportunity to practise winching on and off a moving boat – deafening, but spectacular. SAR practice complete, we landed on the relatively small Sniper Island which, we were assured, one could walk around “in 5 minutes” – obviously by someone who had not set foot on it! The island, less the rocky foreshore, is completely covered by tussac grass well over head height. The tussacs were, however, separated by well-worn paths which could only have been made by the resident sea-lions and seals and so there was not too much blind charging about the place (warnings of not getting between a Sea Lion and the sea being uppermost in our minds). Patience was rewarded by finding a splendid young male Sea Lion and a curious youngster on the south side of the island, who then proceeded to swim around the crystal-clear water (being a typical Falkland day, we had started out prepared to get cold and soaked to find ourselves now in glorious sunshine). In all a fascinating few hours of wildlife watching – and all some 6 miles from the house!