WorldBookProject – Visiting some Islands

Over the last few days, I’ve visited a lot of islands in the Caribbean and the South Atlantic via WorldBookProject. In the mornings, I would walk into the city centre, then sit there for a few hours in the library, and then walk back home in the afternoon. The walk is about 5 miles return (or ca 8km in civilised units), so it’s perfect to clear your head before and after such an intense reading session.

109 British Virgin Islands: Verna Penn Moll – Johnny-cake Country

At first, I was a bit flummoxed by the title, but during reading this delightful little book its meaning became clear. Originally, there was a thing called a Journey cake which was very rich to keep one going while travelling. The name became corrupted, but the cake is still made in many varieties, and the recipes in the book sound yummy. Now, the cake in the book seems to me a wonderful allegory for how the culture of the islands has changed, and how people are trying to adapt to new things, like a huge influx of tourism, and the effects that has on their traditional lifestyle.

110 Cayman Islands: Michael Craton and the New History Committee – Founded upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and their People

When I started looking for a book for the Cayman Islands, my main fear had been that I’d have to read about tax evasion or something equally boring and unpleasant. Luckily, that was not to be. This history gave a comprehensive and readable overview of the last 500 years on the three islands with a focus on social issues like slavery and the economy. I was surprised to learn that things really only took off after the 1960s. Another thing which I found surprising and actually quite appalling was the tiny part that environmental issues seem to play: 2 paragraphs in 500 pages. If this reflects what it’s like on those islands, I’d rather spend my holidays somewhere else – where people care about their wetlands, sharks and forests.

111 Falkland Islands: David Gledhill – Fighters over the Falklands: Defending the Islanders’ Way of Life

Having been to the Falklands before (https://spockisworld.wordpress.com/category/countries-places-ive-been-to/falkland-islands/), I was looking for a book that was not just about the war. And this one delivered. I learned about different kind of fighter planes, the complications of refuelling mid-air, the way personnel have to assure safety when it comes to wildlife,  the issues around supply chains in remote outposts, and that I’m hundreds of hours away from earning a ‘1000 hour Life of Brian badge’.  I’m still scared of flying, but if one is interested in aviation and British aviation history, this book is a goldmine.

And something that stood out for me was that if you buy a copy of this book, part of the money goes to the charity http://houndsforheroes.com/. From their website: Hounds for Heroes provide specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of both the UK Armed Forces and Emergency Services.

Port Stanley

Yep, we are still on the Falkland Islands. Before we set sail towards South Georgia, there was Port Stanley waiting to be explored.Stanley

Here is a link to the wikipedia article. It is a small town with some charming features.tree Even if the street names might seem questionable. Everything is colourful, and often rather quirky.hedge yellow house

There are remnants of wildlife around.bones

One can also spot remnants of ships.wreck

Or technology from the ancient days.telephones

Everybody seems to drive an SUV.street And down at the harbour we spotted the real wildlife – a Rock Shag and a tern (could be a Southamerican Tern).shag and tern

Around Cape Pembroke

After leaving Carcass Island, Fram headed towards East Island overnight. For the map, please see here. She docked in Port Stanley, and we went on a bird watching excursion. A pleasingly small group of half a dozen passengers plus Expedition Team member John (his website is great) and two local guides, we set off in a minibus and were driven to the easternmost point of the island.BrianBrian, one of the local guides.Cape Pembroke He was full of fascinating stories and a fountain of bird knowledge. View from Cape Pembroke towards Port Stanley. The area saw a lot of fighting during 1982.Upland Geese These Upland Geese are swimming in an old bomb crater.Rufous_chest Dotterel juvenile We saw plenty of bird life, so those pictures here are just some examples. This juvenile Rufous-chested Dotterel seemed completely unperturbed by the humans.Rufous_chest Dotterel adult The adult one was a bit more wary.Magellanic Snipe I was fascinated by the Magellanic Snipe. They are extremely well camouflaged.Turkey Vulture If you look closely at the beak of this Turkey Vulture, you can make out a big opening. They hunt by using their sense of smell. I took this photo with a 250mm lens, so you can imagine how close the bird camGauchids Orchide!Dog Orchid We also spotted some of the local plant life. The outstanding discovery was these two orchids. The top one is a Gaudichaud’s Orchid, the bottom one a Dog Orchid (no idea where that name comes from). All in all, a fabulous excursion. If you want to see more, you can go to my husband’s blog: http://chinese-poems.com/blog.

Carcass Island Part 2 – Leopard Beach

Leopard BeachThe beach and the bay invited with their picturesque scenery, but we had not come here for the landscape or to have a swim.

Gentoos

 

 

 

We had come here because of them – Gentoo Penguins. Some of them really live up the hills.sandy beach

 

 

 

And others, in the company of Upland Geese, Kelp Geese and Magellanic Penguins, prefer the beach.marching

 

 

 

When a group of Magellanic Penguins really wants to go ahead, you better run. Even if you are a Gentoo Penguin.scratching

 

 

 

Then, you can give yourself a good old scratch. In perfect balance.porpoising

 

 

 

 

Or you hop into the water and porpoise a bit.

Carcass Island Part 1

settlementOn the afternoon of Dec 03, we made our second landing. Sunshine, almost no wind, palm trees and a walk of about 3km above sandy beaches – just what we wanted.

caracara

Again, we declined the cookie&tea invitation – Leopard Beach was waiting. On the way there and back, the Falklands’ birdlife again was rich and not afraid to say hello.

 

Scottish tourist and Striated Caracara making friends.

Finch

 

 

Finch on the lookout for some food.

 

 

Steamerduck

 

 

Flightless Falkland Steamerducks (Dampfschiffenten in German) on their way to have a swim.

 

Wren

 

 

A wren (probably a Sedge Wren) singing to fight for mate and territory.

 

 

cormorant

 

A Rock Shag, also known as Rock Cormorant or Magellanic Cormorant flying along Leopard Beach, which is where we will visit in the next post.

Falkland Islands – West Point Island Part 2

On our goarseway back from the colony at Devil’s Nose (see last post) the Sun came out and lit up the quite colourful landscape. The gorse was beautiful and home to some small singing birds.

 

Caracara

 

I went for the bigger ones, however. This is also due to the fact that I was using a 200mm lens, while my husband used the 400mm one.

There were Caracaras on the ground.

 

Turkey Vulture

 

And there were Turkey Vultures up in the air.

 

 

Kelp Geese

 

Families of Kelp Geese were looking for food on land, and we saw also flocks of Upland Geese swimming in the water.

 

 

 

Close to the water were also Oystercatchers, and in the water yet another highlight – Peale’s Dolphins.

 

 

Magellanic Penguin

The place is a popular with Magellanic Penguins. They dig burrows in the ground and use them for breeding.

It was an amazing first landing, and it exceeded all my expectations.