Clean Sheets and Penguin Poo

So here we are, a brand new year! All fresh and clean, like getting between the crisp sheets of a newly made bed. Full of possibilities; hopes and dreams to be realised or dashed.

We ended 2012 on a high after spending the day exploring some of East Falkland. Driving from Stanley to New Haven you pass from a mountainous landscape with stone runs and craggy inlets to the soft rolling grasslands of Lafonia. Its a land of big skies, the track ahead slowly disappearing into the horizon. Even the place names ‘Lafonia’ and ‘Paragon’ conjure images of Lord Of The Rings style landscapes.Lafonia

We stopped off to visit the Argentine cemetery. Oddly positioned out in the middle of nowhere a few miles from Darwin, it is a very peaceful place. Row upon row of simple white crosses simply adorned with rosary beads or a small photograph, a hand written note or a faded silk flower.Argentine Cemetary

We passed through Goose Green, beautifully set on a promontory of land three sides surrounded by water. The road weaves right through the settlement with its communal building, stores, houses and shearing sheds. There is even a small school and playground. It looks like an idyllic place to live. What a shock it must have been in 1982 when the occupants were held prisoner by Argentine soldiers.

Finally we came to New Haven where the ferry links East and West Falkland. However we were there not to board the ferry but to see the gentoo penguin colony. You smell it before you see it, the unmistakable whiff of guano cuts the air. There are hundreds of gentoos, going about their business paying little regard to their visitors. Some had eggs but most had chicks who were demanding regurgitated meals. From the bright red poo you could see that they were feeding on lobster krill.

We sat at the edge of the colony and was approached by some more inquisitive individuals who sat just two feet away looking at us as intently as we were looking at them. Many were taking the chance to carry out a bit of nest maintenance and walked to the edge of the colony for a beak-ful of mud and vegetation. On the way back to their nest they caused quite a commotion as other penguins pecked at them envious of the nesting material and determined not to be out done!
Overhead swooped a skua, waiting for its chance to take a small chick, egg or scrap of food but he was unlucky this time.

It was just Zoe and I to see the new year in. Little did we know last new years eve that the next one would be spent in the Falklands. I wonder what we’ll be talking about next year?

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