Life At Sea As We Sail Towards South Georgia And Antarctica

A huge Northern Giant Petrel from the stern of Ocean Diamond, wow!

Having waved goodbye to Ushuaia, Argentina we then spent three full days at sea out of the sight of land, a new experience for us to be so long without seeing dry land. But our floating home, the Ocean Diamond, had everything we needed to keep us safe and happy. There were seabirds around the ship, we had a lovely cabin, superb food, the most amazing crew and expedition team to look after our every need. It was actually quite busy, if you wanted it to be, out on the stern watching birds at first light, hot drink in one hand bins in the other, wrapped up warm in our bright yellow parkas. Huge wonderful breakfast with lovely people to chat to and swap travel and wildlife tales with as we ate. Then tough choices the rest of the day, listen to the amazing array of lectures given by the expedition team, each one an expert in Antarctica related subjects be it penguins, whales, history, climate you name it there was a wonderful talk about it! Or, back out on deck to marvel at the wonderful seabirds sweeping over the waters, thankfully pretty calm seas all the way, so lucky. Or, enjoy more wonderful food and chat in the bar with other travellers and we did have a really great group of people to share this amazing experience with. Or, chill out, have a nap, read a book, watch a DVD, write your diary and notes, very strange for us to have this freedom of choice what to do! Who knew a cruise could be this good?

Watching Albatrosses every day was a thrill and a privalage - Wandering Albatross.

Not quite as big but still very impressive - Black-browed Albatross.

Of course for us having those seabirds off the back of the ship almost constantly was the real thrill of our cruise. We spent a lot, really a lot, of time scanning the seas for these most amazing birds that somehow survive in these Southern Oceans. Albatroses were undoubtedly the most spectacular of these seabirds and we marvelled at Black-browed, Grey-headed and the gigantic Wandering Albatross as they cut through the air, one moment wing-tips almost in the waves then towering high in huge arcs across the sky, jaw-dropping birding. And Alan could enjoy it all due to his anti-seasickness patches that were brilliant throughout.

We loved seeing these Cape Petrels almost everyday just behind the ship.

A Southern Fulmar come in check out the wake behind the ship looking for a meal.

Lots of other super birds to keep us busy when the Albatrosses were not wowing us, we loved seeing the piebald Cape Petrels following the ship almost every day, often gangs of them patrolling the disturbed water looking for a meal. White-chinned Petrels too, these large dark rather shearwater-like petrels were another regular feature behind the Ocean Diamond. We did see a few Sooty Shearwaters, maybe less than we expected due to the calm weather? Wilson’s Storm Petrels, tiny Swallow sized seabirds, whizzed over the huge swell and vanished into the troughs only to reappear like magic above the crest of a wave. Their thin legs and tiny webbed feet dangling below as they "walked on the water", just amazing to watch. Beautiful Blue Petrels with their distinctive white-tipped tails swept past always on a mission to get somewhere these birds. Very similar, but different if you look hard, were the Antarctic and Slender-billed Prions small grey and white “petrels” that flew fast and low sometimes forming huge flocks, yet another sight to marvel at! The seas here are far from empty! Southern Fulmars too, stiff winged like their northern cousins we see around the Great orme in Wales, both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, as big as Albatrosses, were often over the wake dwarfing the Prions and Petrels, brutes of birds.

A Blue Petrel comes head-on towards us, a new species for us!

So life at sea was great but of course we kept thinking of what lay ahead…

Check back soon for more bird blogs and do have a look at our tours pages. If you have any questions at all or would like to book a Birdwatching Trips tour please email us here…

We look forward to hearing from you soon! Best wishes Alan and Ruth

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