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Ross Sea – Emperor Penguins, Greater Snow Petrels and Historic Huts

AT A GLANCE

FOCUS

Bird & Wildlife Cruise:
birds, whales & dolphins, polar scenery & photography.

WHERE

Bluff (South Island, NZ) – Snares Islands – Auckland Islands – Macquarie Island – Ross Sea region of Antarctica - Campbell Island – Christchurch (South Island, NZ)

SAMPLE WILDLIFE

Penguins including King & Macaroni, albatrosses including Wandering, Black-browed and Light-mantled Sooty, other tubenoses eg petrels, prions, diving-petrels, storm-petrels and shearwaters etc, various shags, geese, duck including steamer-ducks, waders, skuas, gulls and terns plus Falkland & S Georgian endemics. Potential marine mammals include Southern Elephant, Leopard, Weddell, Crab-eater and other seals, Humpback, Orca, Fin, Antarctic Minke and other whales. Dolphins could include Peale’s, Commerson’s and Hourglass.

CLIMATE

Temperate cool to Polar cold.

ACCOMMODATION

50+ passenger expedition ship, cabins with and without private facilities.

Found only in the Antarctic Peninsula area as an occasional vagrant, the largest and most enigmatic of the penguins, the majestic Emperor, is the only animal to breed during the harsh, cold and dark Antarctic winter. As so well depicted in a number of recent natural history films, when the Antarctic spring sun finally appears, the female Emperors return from the sea to relieve the males, who have spent the entire winter huddled together on the ice, incubating a single egg on their feet! The Ross Sea region is the Emperor’s main breeding region and on this extended trip to the Ross Sea, we hope to get some great looks at this unique bird.

 

This region is also home to the Greater Snow Petrel and we hope to land on the rarely visited Balleny Islands which is the only place where this poorly known bird is known to breed.  With several days longer than usual in the Ross Sea, we also hope to encounter another rarely seen creature, the very range-restricted Ross Seal.

The Ross Sea is, of course, rightly famous for being the starting point for many of the early explorers attempts to reach the South Pole, and visits are planned to both Scott’s and Shackleton’s Huts on this unique and special voyage.

 

For birdwatchers, whale-watchers and island enthusiasts, the ice-strengthened Spirit of Enderby (50 passengers), offers a number of voyages to this least known party of our planet. This itinerary is due to be led by Rodney Russ himself, undoubtedly the most experienced expedition leader for the Ross Sea, and will feature Chris Collins as guest naturalist onboard.

 

In addition to the natural splendours of the Far Side of Antarctica, the vessel will visit some very special islands on the way south and then back north, as well as crossing waters which are some of the richest in the world for seabirds and marine wildlife.  Many of the islands are also home to endemic birds and we will make it a priority to look for these whilst ashore.

 

The photographic opportunities should be fantastic throughout this expedition which is an ideal choice for those of you who have already been to Antarctica from South America. 

Day 1: Meet Invercargill, overnight hotel with group dinner.

Day 2: Sub-Antarctic museum visit then transfer to ship and sail from Bluff.

Day 3: The Snares Islands are the first of the Sub-Antarctic archipelagos that we plan to visit. It is an amazing place, as there more seabirds nesting here than around the coasts of the entire British Isles including an incredible six million Sooty Shearwaters! We will arrive in the early morning and plan to zodiac cruise the sheltered eastern side where we should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Tomtit and Fernbird, as well as Cape Petrels, Antarctic and White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls. 

Day 4: Arrive at Enderby Island, which is a great island to bird in the Auckland Islands group. We plan to land at Sandy Bay, which is the main breeding ground for the Hooker’s Sea Lion.  We should also find nesting Southern Royal and Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Northern Giant Petrels, Auckland Island Shags, Auckland Island Teal, Auckland Island Banded Dotterels, Auckland Island Tomtits, Bellbirds, New Zealand Pipits, Red-crowned Parakeets and Yellow-eyed Penguins.  We will also make a special effort to find Sub-Antarctic Snipe.

Day 5: At sea.  An opportunity to relax, attend lectures or join the staff seawatching.  There are a host of possibilities and we could see Soft-plumaged and White-headed Petrels, Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels and a number of different cetaceans.

Days 6-7: Arrive at Macquarie Island which is the only place in the world where the Royal Penguin breeds.  This species is extremely numerous but there are also large numbers of King Penguins plus two other penguin species to look for, the Gentoo and Rockhopper. Along the coast we should also see the Imperial (Macquarie) Shag.

We plan to land at the Australian ANARE base and at Sandy Bay.  There may also be an opportunity to zodiac cruise at Lusitania Bay, where there is a huge King Penguin colony. 

Days 8-11: At sea.  There will be a series of lectures and other activities as well as excellent opportunities to look for more seabirds and cetaceans as we continue southwards.

Days 12-27: The Ross Sea region – our time here will be subject to ice conditions and the weather but amongst our landings we hope to visit Cape Adare, Cape Hallett, Terra Nova Bay, Franklin Island, Ross Island (including Cape Bird, Shackleton’s and Scott’s huts, Mt Erebus), Balleny Islands (for Greater Snow Petrel), Bay of Whales and the Possession Islands. Emperor and Adelie Penguins colonies are found in this region, whilst Orcas hunt in and around the Pack Ice and the extremely poorly known Ross Seal is a real possibility.

 

Days 28-30: At sea.  We begin heading northwards and there will be more onboard activities as well as excellent opportunities to look for seabirds and cetaceans.

Days 31-32: Campbell Island.  We plan to spend time ashore to see the nesting Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Campbell Island Shag, Rockhopper Penguin, Southern Skua, Red-billed Gull, Black-backed Gull, Antarctic Tern and New Zealand Pipit. Campbell Island Teal can also be seen, an endemic which was rediscovered by Rodney Russ back in 1975 and is now increasing in numbers as a result of the elimination of introduced predators. Campbell Island Snipe has also been found here in recent years.

Days 33-34: At sea.  An opportunity to look for more ‘northern’ seabirds and cetaceans as we head towards New Zealand.

Day 35: Disembark Lyttelton for Christchurch. 

Other expected seabirds to be seen during this voyage at sea include Wandering, Gibson’s, Black-browed, Grey-headed, White-capped and Salvin’s Albatross, Northern & Southern Giant Petrels, Antarctic Fulmar, Antarctic, Fairy & Fulmar Prions, Mottled, White-headed, Soft-plumaged and White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwater, Wilson’s, Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels plus Common Diving Petrel. Marine mammals may include Southern-Right, Antarctic Minke, Sperm, Fin and Humpback Whales, Hourglass Dolphins, Sub-Antarctic and New Zealand Fur Seals, Hooker’s Sea Lion, Weddell, Crabeater and Southern Elephant Seals.     

Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Dates:              9th February – 15th March 2017 (Bluff to Lyttelton) 

Leader/s:          Rodney Russ and expedition team including Chris Collins.

Cost:   

£15,159               sharing a twin basic (lower berths)                           

£17,095               sharing a twin with facilities (upper and lower berths) 

£18,385               sharing a superior twin with facilities. (lower berths)

From £19,355      sharing a suite with facilities (beds)

Landing fees: £565

Deposit: 25%

Prices based on £1 = $1.55 Payment can also be made in US$, please contact us for rates.

Single supplement 1.8 twin share rate.

Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals, shore excursions, lectures and services of expedition team, day by day bird checklist, overnight hotel pre-cruise with dinner and breakfast, group transfers hotel/ship, ship/airport.

Price excludes: Flights (available from £995), landing fees and port taxes (see above), travel insurance, vessel fuel surcharges if levied, onboard gratuities (suggest US$10 per day), drinks, and items of a personal nature.

    Photo

    Tour Leader

    Chris has birded in over 50 countries around the world and now spends quite a lot of his time at sea. Although professionally qualified as a Chartered Accountant, these days Chris concentrates on wildlife-related projects and was very instrumental in setting up the Western Pacific Odyssey and also guides our Russian Far East voyages.

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