The Governor was being visited by his family with him for Christmas, so we all decided to escape to Sea Lion island. An early heli, and a beautiful day- we headed off up island to see the sea lions, passing the gentoos on the way briefly, and popping down to the beach next to the lodge to see the young bull elephant seals who are lazing around doing nothing and growling grumpily at each other. They are practising fighting ahead of when they have to establsih their female groups in the coming years. The growling comes from somewhere deep within, and sounds like a low hubble bubble pipe-quite surreal, and fairly intimidating. Quite a hike to the Sea Lions - huge bulls with massive thick maned necks, and tiny new born pups, the size of lambs, and with a similar bleating call. Through the tussock as tall as us, catching sight of families of steamer ducks and kelp geese with lines of babies, and then across the moorland and up to the cliff tops where the Sheffield Memorial stands with a stunning back drop of crashing waves and dramatic rocks. The Memorial is a mixture of formal stone and metal, and personal and private; photos, letters and boxes left by family and friends. Behind it a busy community of rockhoppers hop and scurry, babies learning to hop, up and down up and down. Back to the lodge for a sandwich lunch and then time to sit beside the gentoos and watch the fluffy babies chase their parents to distraction. How cross do those parents become.... they refuse to feed after a while and simply run away, to the desperation of the chicks - fabulously comical to watch.
Sea Lion island is a magical place - at every turn, another group of animals going about their business, utterly oblivious of our interest. We are so clearly not needed, wanted or noticed - exactly as it should be.