A boat trip tour from Stanley; friends have hired a boat for the night, we have a picnic on board, and we are heading out of Stanley harbour, and round the corner to Barclay Sound. Kidney island has sea lions, fur seals, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, and, most important of all, sooty shearwaters.
Sooty shearwaters live out at sea all day, and return to the land at night, diving into their burrows at the foot of the tussock once dark has fallen. This is to reduce predation , but it is a spectacle to be witnessed; in the middle of the season, the twilight sky goes black with shearwaters as they fly in from the sea, circle the island in their thousands, and dive for their night-time safe houses. We certainly saw thousands, although not as many as normal; a storm had thrown out their system, and the season is nearly ended – migration has begun.
We ate our picnic watching the rockhoppers, struggled through tussock grass way above our heads to cross the island, and finally sat on the beach and watched the sun go down in orange and grey majesty, as a huge sea lion bobbed just off the beach, waiting for us to leave.
We waded out to the Rigid raider, puttered through the kelp back to the boat, and then all fell asleep in the dark on board in a heap as we were driven back towards the Pembroke lighthouse across a dark and swollen sea.