Our baby being born in Ireland in October has necessitated some reverse seasonal migration on our part. Having endured two winters in a row, we’ve returned to the Falklands in time to catch the last few weeks of the Summer tourist season. Pushed into swift action by our severe lack of vitamin D, we no sooner unpacked and a phone call was made to one of our favourite haunts: Sea Lion Island.
As is so often the case here in the Falklands, the journey is part of the adventure and it was exciting to hop on a FIGAS flight again after so long away, even with a baby in tow this time:
We were a little concerned that we’d be arriving so late in the season that we’ll have missed some of the wildlife highlights (the Gentoo and Rockhopper chicks are pretty cute and curious) but anyone following Sea Lion Lodge’s Facebook page recently will have noted that there was still plenty of interesting behaviour to be witness to. The island served up the usual array of outstanding penguin encounters, including viewing from the Lodge:
Sea Lion Island is particularly notable for its other bird life as it has no sheep, rats or mice to bother the ground nesters, but you never really know what you might see whenever you’re wandering around:
Regulars will know that Sea Lion is a crucial habitat for its long-studied Elephant Seal population. We might have missed the breeding season (not always a bad thing: “that’s not lovemaking” was a favourite quote by Han’s Dad on witnessing the process) but they haul out in Feb/March time to moult so there were still plenty of the beasts knocking around to cause some much-needed amusement:
This time of year, the animals that kindly lend their name to the island are well worth spending some time with as the pups are just starting to swim, play (king of the castle on a rocky outcrop) and, apparently, investigate washed-up Sei whale ribs:
Han was very much able to empathise with the suckling sea lion mums, as she found herself doing some cliff-top feeding of her own at the same time.
You’ll know that we have been very regular visitors to Sea Lion Island over the past few years (including a short stint guiding there) and you might think that we’ve seen and done it all, but there is a NEW addition to the island this year! One important highlight that only joined the island recently and has had a marked improvement on the whole experience:It’s as I always say: wherever you’re going, always bring a historian!
P.S. For our friends and family, a connection we’d like to point out: in the Falkland Islands, a male Sea Lion is called a Jasper!