11th.February, South Georgia, Salisbury Plain – King Penguins
After the first short landing in wet weather we transferred to the Bay of Isles with the famous Salisbury Plain in the centre of it. We were very lucky that it was fine all day and we made good use of it, getting in 3 landings by having breakfast at 5.30am.
We were woken at 5 am to rapidly clearing clouds for our visit to the Salisbury Plain King penguin colony, which with some 50,000 nesting pairs (approx. 200,000 birds) is the second largest on South Georgia. It is a fantastic sight and remained one of the highlights of the entire trip. The noise of this incredible number of birds can be heard from far away. Thousands of sea lions add to the cacaphony. I spent the first half-hour just sitting on the beach where we landed and allowing myself to be surrounded by the penguins. They are curious and one came right up to me to nibble at my wellingtons while I was sitting there. The sun was slowly rising above the glacier covered mountains, creating a rainbow against the dark clouds still present at the opposite end of the beach. Later I could walk towards the centre of the colony and see the large fluffy brown chicks standing in a lagoon behind the beach waiting to be fed. There was a continuous stream of parent penguins to and from the sea fetching food (fish, squid or krill) for them. The baby fur seals are not as docile as they look. They have a deep bark and will come forward to inspect you at close quarters.