Monday, October 11, 2010

Sea Lion Island 12th Sept

I was invited on a last minute trip out to Sea Lion with Alex and Monika which thankfully I was able to attend as J was around to look after the munchkins. It was a rather blustery cold day but bright and dry. We landed at Sea Lion, had the usual brief of what was where and then headed out to take some photos. Monika is a whiz with the camera so I was hoping she might help me get off P mode and try out something different. I can say that I did not use P mode all day but happily pottered around with my shutter speed mode instead. Not far out of the lodge we came across this beauty who was busy following us around.

He was grasping something in his talons which looks to be a piece of fabric or elastic. Quite what he had that for I am not sure but he wasn't about to let it go guarding it protectively.

We headed out past all the male magellanics who were just returning to their burrows and then bimbled down to the beach. I ventured straight to the waters edge to look for killer whales who are supposed to be around waiting for the vulnerable babies. I was spoiled straight away as there was a baby sea lion and parent just on the waters edge. This wasn't a new born as they are supposedly very dark brown/black but I don't think this one was very old either.

I happily snapped away for a good 5 minutes on my own while everyone else was busy photographing a large sea lion on the beach behind me.

You can see from the shot below how small the babies are in comparison to their parents.

As more people arrived beside me to get their shots, the baby started to get a bit upset and they both headed out to the safety of the sea. The adult kept pushing the baby under the water and almost pressing it's full weight on top of it, you almost felt like it was going to drown it. I turned around and headed back along the beach only to nearly bump into this lady who was having her lunch time siesta.

The females don't have such massive ugly noses which gives the species it's name of elephant seal.

She was quite happy to let me get quite close with my long lense on before she gave a quick head toss to tell me to back off. You really wouldn't want to get within striking distance of these massive creatures as they would not only flatten you but also give you a nasty bite.

The males are rather noisey and smelly creatures and for no reason at all seem to just rear up and roar. I cannot look at them without thinking of Shrek and the line "do the roar". The breath is fowl and you can literally see their breath like steam coming out when they do this.

Tonsil view for anyone that might be interested.

After 400 plus photos of this that looked pretty much the same I continued along the beach a bit further and saw a group of steamer ducks giving themselves a clean up. This one made me laugh as it looked like it was saluting.

I was so busy focusing on the ducks I almost missed a sea lion coming out of the sea onto the beach in front of me. If it had been any quicker I might have been in a bit of trouble. They can really only manage to pull their body weight up about four times before they have to rest a while and then heave away again. They flounder and flop their way up the beach.

This one looked like he was going to sleep in the surf except every now and then he would lift his nostrils up out of the water and take a deep breath.

He eventually made land about ten minutes later.

All of the mature elephant seals seemed to have names tattooed on their sides. I have yet to find out who did this and whehter this is for research. It looks a bit surreal and in some ways I felt it spoilt the natural look of the animal.

Just a few yards along the beach and there was another massive seal basking fast asleep. On it's side, it was only slightly shorter than me!

The were covering themselves with sand to cool themselves and also stop the flies from landing in their wounds.

A side on view of that magnificient but oh so ugly nose.

Having already taken over 600 photos of elephant seals in just 400 metres of beach we decided to head inland and away from the windy shore to eat our lunch. The sandy beach gives away to a wonderful rock shelf with massive smooth pebbles in multiple shades of grey and brown. I was so tempted to stuff my rucksack full of them to bring home and paint. It reminded me of painting pebbles in my Grandma's garden in Wales with ladybirds and then varnishing them.

We had only just undone the latches on our rucksacks when we had two visitors in the shape of some straited caracarra's. They were bold as brass and wandered straight up to us checking out our lunch boxes.

A few tip bits for them allowed us to capture some close up pictures of their awesome talons and sharp beaks.
All was lovely until they started to try to help themselves to the stuffing out of Monika's padded jacket and taste testing our camera bags. You felt like you were being watched from every angle!

Since they were so bold Monika decided she would like to try and hand feed them and asked me to take some photos for her.

The first time he came in high and quickly landed in front of her hand, grabbed the sandwich and then ran away as fast as possible.

The second time he strolled over and pensively pecked it out of her hand with his wings up but didn't fly off.

Lunch all finished, hot orange inside to warm the cockles and we headed over to the opposite side of the island. In the dunes I stumbled across a smaller seal resting in the afternoon sun.

She had such a beautiful face and at first I thought she might be a different type of seal but a quick check with the land owner later and she informed me that she was indeed an Elephant seal but a young female.

Closer to the waters edge was another massive male who had clearly been in a recent fight. His war wounds were still oozing from an earlier scrape.

On closer inspection I found little birds running around almost drinking the blood from the open wounds. The seal was getting rather annoyed with them and would flip some sand or swipe at them with his head.

You can see the size difference between them here. The birds are about the size of a British thrush.
Short whiskers and pointed eyebrows break the contours of their faces but I am not sure what use they are to the seals.

As we were waiting for some action from this particular seal Alex wandered down the beach. We dared her to touch his tail for us but smartly she kept her distance as just a that moment he decided he didn't like something making noise behind him.

I haven't seen Alex move that quick except in the gym with me on our early morning workouts.

Of course this then turned into a photograph competition where we were all shooting each other!! Soon enough it was time to high tale it back to the lodge to catch the heli home. This always seems to take longer than you think with the wind heading straight at you. We just made it back in time to pick up our luggage as the heli came into view.
All in all a very good day, I still have oooh so much to learn about my camera but I was pleasantly pleased with some of my shots.

No comments:

Post a Comment