The Falklands and penguins

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The Falklands and penguins

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We didn’t actually storm the beach. Instead we bounced up to a jetty where a pleasant sailor helped us off as the lifeboat pitched about. A jaunty big sign bade us welcome to the Falklands. We had already noted the bright little town of Port Stanley. It seemed to have been built of gaily painted corrugated iron.

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Without more ado we set off into the hinterland to see battlefields and discover penguins.

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The large green peat fields stretched out on all sides towards the distant mountains. As far as I could see it had all been a battlefield. There were little white crosses here and there marking where soldiers had been blown to bits by lumps of metal travelling at high velocity. We passed a sign saying MINEFIELD. The jolly islander explained that there were still ten trillion landmines strewn all over the island. I reminded myself to limit my inclination to explore.

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We were heading for Bluff Cove (not one of the islanders but a real bay full of penguins, famous for its café and part of the battle for control of the island). This involved being bumped around in a four by four as it sped over ruts and bumps. I think he deliberately sought the most uneven terrain. Bouncing visitors about in a four by four was the only entertainment on the island. I thought he might be called Lewis Hamilton but be assured me he was called Jamie.

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We passed stone runs from ancient glaciers, peat bogs, streams, ponds and a very strange accumulation at the side of the road. The islanders had started sticking old boots and shoes on sticks. There was quite a collection of them. They called it Boot Hill.

Then the bay came into sight. There was a big brown patch in the middle of the bay that was probably well trodden penguin poo. On this patch were a community of penguins. There were a couple of hundred of them all standing and waddling about like penguins do. It was impressive.

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We got out and could go right up to them. Unfortunately you were not supposed to touch. I could just see tourists heading back to their ship with a Gentoo penguin under each arm as a memento of their visit.

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The penguins were mainly Gentoo. There were adults and babies. The babies were all fluffy and downy and almost as big as the adults. I noticed that there were groups of adults away at a distance from the colony. They had obviously had enough of the juvenile behaviour and wanted a bit of peace and quiet.

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The babies were very cute and tame. They inquisitively waddled right up to you and peered up at you enquiringly as if trying to work out what we were and what the hell we were doing here.

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When I’d had my fill of Gentoo I went off to have a look at what else the bay had to offer. There were some beautifully coloured upland geese of offer. They were amazing. There were also a bunch of Skuas. These were large predatory birds who feast on, among other things, baby penguins. I was surprised to see them either sitting happily in the midst of the colony or else strutting around eyeing up the babies with an evil hungry gleam in their eye. They were not seeing those baby Gentoo in the same way I was. What I found remarkable was that all the penguns seemed oblivious to them. These sinister predators wandered around without even a passing peck and sized up the daft babies who waddled and threw themselves down on the ground in gleeful disregard. I imagined that if one of those skuas had gone for one of the little ones there might have been a bit of a rumpus. In the meantime they merely waiting for one of them to become ill or wander too far off. It was a little unsettling – like watching a stalking paedophile at work.

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In the centre of the colony were a group of majestic Emperor penguins. Altogether a different proposition to the smaller Gentoos. With their great size and bright orange markings they stood out. They made the Gentoos look quite ordinary. They were magnificent.

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There was one baby Emperor that waddled around among the adults and was preened and fussed over by its parent. He was not allowed to wander. He was probably too small. The skuas would have ripped him to pieces given half a chance. The parent knew it and so did the baby. It spent most of its time buried under its parent’s bum where it was safe. You could just see its legs and bottom sticking out.

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My heart was melted. Seeing wild animals in the wild is magical. It is so different to zoos.

It made me feel that I wasn’t doing anywhere near enough to protect this planet and all these incredible creatures from the disasters we were wreaking upon them. I resolved to try harder.

Comments

opher goodwin Added Dec 5, 2018 - 10:22am
I greatly enjoy travelling, photography and nature. My travels have shown me first-hand what a terrible mess we are making of the world. Everywhere I have been nature is being butchered, polluted out of existence and their habitats destroyed.
Too many people - too much pollution - and too much habitat being chopped down, filled in, drained, used for crops or built on.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Dec 9, 2018 - 6:39am
Great Malvinas travelog. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 7:05am
Thank you Jeffry - spoken like a true Argentinian.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 9, 2018 - 7:55am
Oph
 
Fully agree. Nice pics !
Jeffry Gilbert Added Dec 9, 2018 - 8:02am
spoken like a true Argentinian.
 
Three years in Tigre just outside BA. Had a lot of fun with the portenas. 
 
Never chose to live in England. Sitting at a blackjack table in Stanley's casino was the most I could endure. 
 
John Minehan Added Dec 9, 2018 - 8:23am
Funny, non-avian dinosaurs didn't seem to make the leap towards an aquatic life-style unlike the other Archosaurs, Crocodilians and Birds (and, especially, turtles if they are included in the crown clade).  Possibly, Spinosauus  was an exception. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:12am
Cheers Stone - I enjoy taking them. Nature is my thing.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:13am
Jeffry - I'm not surprised - I don't think I could endure the type that inhabit blackjack tables for long.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:18am
John - one wonders what happened to the plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. They just seem to have died out with the rest.
Penguins are funny creatures - particularly on land - very graceful and speedy in the sea. 
John Minehan Added Dec 9, 2018 - 9:32am
The plesiosaurs are still represented by their cousins, the snakes.
 
It's funny, the marine reptiles of the Mesozoic, were not dinosaurs but were closely related to lizards and snakes. 
Dave Volek Added Dec 9, 2018 - 11:07am
Nice story. Thanks for sharing
Bill H. Added Dec 9, 2018 - 11:18am
Oph - Great article and pics!
Something educational and entertaining is a pleasant diversion out here.
Koshersalaami Added Dec 9, 2018 - 11:37am
Looks like a great trip. 
The islands got mined? Because of what, the warlike population? Am I wrong, or are the Falklands a bit like putting Guernsey off the coast of South America?
Dino Manalis Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:17pm
 This is British territory off Argentina!  Enjoy!
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:38pm
John - how closely related are snakes to plesiosaurs?
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:39pm
Dave - you are welcome.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:40pm
Bill - thanks Bill. I thought something uncontroversial might be overdue! Glad you like it. I do like travelling and taking photos of nature.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:43pm
Kosher - the Falklands war back in the eighties! The Argentinians laid claim to it - which was absurd - it's hundreds of miles off the coast of Argentina (and only thousands of miles away from the UK).
It was quite complicated really. Anyway we took the islands back by force and rescued the penguins from a life in servitude to the Argentinians. We are now schooling them to be part of the British Empire - which is why they are Emperor Penguins!
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:44pm
Dino - and I did greatly enjoy it! That island was more English than England!
Koshersalaami Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:48pm
I’m aware of the war. At the time I represented a British manufacturer, so I can remember those conversations, plus I had a Guatemalan cousin, a physician, who referred to the Falklands as the Malvinas. What I remember most is that the entire population of the islands were British and that it was awfully odd of Argentina to ignore who lived there. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 12:53pm
Kosher - yes. The strange thing is that it has been a British colony for hundreds of years. We took it off the Spanish. But it has never been ruled by Argentina. 
I can understand their claim - being closer to Argentina than the UK - but I really think the war was all about the gateway to the Antarctic and oil rather than anything else.
The Falklands was incredibly British.
Steel Breeze Added Dec 9, 2018 - 1:05pm
nice travel log....
Jeff Michka Added Dec 9, 2018 - 1:13pm
It always seemed to me calling the Falklands the Malvinas was a nod to Argentine construction workers.  Like construction workers in most places, ladies walking by the construction sites in Buenos Aires would hear catcalls and whistles, "Look at the Malvinas on that one."  It was a tough war fought against a country ran by Ferdanando Lamas, Desi Arnez and Ricardo Montalban...Sun never sets on...
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 1:36pm
Cheers Steel.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 1:40pm
LOL - Jeff - Yes it was a hard-fought war and had more to do with the Argentinian political situation and the gateway to the Antarctic than anything else.
Jeff Michka Added Dec 9, 2018 - 1:45pm
And Roger Waters would have had a lot less material for "The Final Cut" without the war in the Falklands...
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 2:17pm
Jeff - that is so true! Good things come out of bad! And then there is Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding to consider!
I hope there's some good music comes out of Trump!
Koshersalaami Added Dec 9, 2018 - 4:05pm
I don’t know. The sailors on the General Belgrano, which I think the British said they wouldnl’t attack, might think differently.
opher goodwin Added Dec 9, 2018 - 4:41pm
Kosher - I don't think they said they wouldn't attack it. The Belgrano was sailing away though. It shouldn't have been sunk. It was a bloody and nasty conflict that should never have happened.
Thatcher's mistakes and cuts.
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 11, 2018 - 5:14am
Opher -  Nice pictures and guide.  Also....you guys fought a war over THAT ? Back in the day Ohio fought a war against Michigan over Toledo. Ohio lost the war and is still stuck with Toledo today. This seems almost the same thing :)
 
Best music to come as a result of the Falklands war was Thomas Dolby's One of our Submarines
 
opher goodwin Added Dec 11, 2018 - 5:40am
Hi Burger - cheers. No the importance of the Falklands (and Georgia) is not the island - it is the gateway to the Antarctic with all its oil, minerals and wealth. 
The Falklands was so English it was ridiculous. It was like stepping back in time.
Women are Inferior Added Dec 11, 2018 - 2:16pm
I was watching something about penguins recently, and the narrator said that back in the old days, a certain type of them were used as firewood to melt whale blubber. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! For some reason, that was a HILARIOUS mental picture. I enjoy watching them being consumed by leopard seals and orcas. The only thing that's funnier is me on a Koala Bear-eradication trip.
John Minehan Added Dec 11, 2018 - 2:47pm
"The only thing that's funnier is me on a Koala Bear-eradication trip."
 
Just remember, they hate QANTAS.
John Minehan Added Dec 11, 2018 - 2:50pm
"I enjoy watching them being consumed by leopard seals and orcas."
 
The only bad part is that the Leopard Seals tend to sodomize them first.  Hope Ryan never finds out.
Jeff Michka Added Dec 11, 2018 - 3:46pm
LOL, John M!!!   Ryan is trying to get passage on the next C-130 heading to Antartica.  Well, maybe he'll get to christianize them when he finishes.  "Want to read the bible, or get assbanged by Ryan?" will do the trick.  Vinny will be jealous. LOL
Women are Inferior Added Dec 12, 2018 - 6:12am
@ John M. - The only bad part is that the Leopard Seals tend to sodomize them first.  Hope Ryan never finds out.
 
Hahahahahaha!!! I didn't know that! Probably because I was busy being amused by the way certain orcas combine sports and meat tenderizing by doing their version of drop-kicks on fucking seals...yes, I hate those aquatic versions of coyotes, and love shooting them all the same, lol.
opher goodwin Added Dec 12, 2018 - 7:31am
WAI - you are one very sick person. You need to get psychiatric help immediately. Please do not go outside in your present state. There are children and living things out there. In your present state of mind you are a danger to yourself and everyone else. The good news is that there is treatment! Failing that you can be sectioned (either physically or mentally.
 
opher goodwin Added Dec 12, 2018 - 7:32am
John - don't encourage either of them!
opher goodwin Added Dec 12, 2018 - 7:33am
Jeff - you have filled my head with images I'd rather not have.