Birds of Antarctica

Today is the beginning of the ten-day countdown to my trip down south to the Antarctic. I can’t believe how fast time has gone! It seems that I was only just accepted into the program, and feels like I should still be fundraising. In reality I am all set for Antarctica (with a HUGE thanks to everyone who supported me!), and am now just waiting and counting down the days. Going all the way to the other side of the planet is a daunting idea, and it’s hard to actually imagine it. I have a feeling that the whole thing is going to feel a bit surreal.

In preparation, I have been going through a lot of reading material with Antarctic subject-matter. That includes researching the birds that we will most likely be seeing and memorizing the id characteristics. It’ll be a lot more fun to actually have an idea of what I’m looking at when I’m down there, rather than having to constantly ask “what is that”?

Here is a list of the coastal and sea-based birds I will be most likely to see from the time we all set sail from Ushuaia, Argentina, and return from Antarctica:

Wandering Albatross

Royal Albatross

Black-browed Albatross

Grey-headed Albatross

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross

Giant Petrel

Southern Fulmar

Antarctic Petrel

Cape (Pintado) Petrel  (Cannot wait to see this one!)

Antarctic Prion

Slender-billed Prion

Blue Petrel

White-headed Petrel

White-chinned Petrel

Snow Petrel

Greater Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel

Black-bellied Storm-Petrel

Magellanic Diving Petrel

Common Diving Petrel

Emperor Penguin

Chinstrap Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Macaroni Penguin

Magellanic Penguin

Adele Penguin

Olivaceous Cormorant

Rock Cormorant

Guanay Cormorant

Blue-eyed Cormorant

King Cormorant

Great Skua

South Polar Skua

Black Skimmer

Dolphin Gull

Kelp Gull

Franklin’s Gull

Brown-hooded Gull

South American Tern

Common Tern

Antarctic Tern

Arctic Tern

(Arctic and Antarctic Terns look identical in their breeding plumage… fortunately, when I’m there the Antarctic Tern will be in breeding plumage, while the Arctic Tern – which nests here in the Yukon – will be in non-breeding plumage.)

Below is a list of ‘maybes’ I’ll cross my fingers for. Most of these are pretty unlikely, but you never know what will turn up!

Elegant Crested Tinamou (Really want to see one, just because it is so foreign-sounding!)

Pied-billed Grebe

White-tufted Grebe

Silvery Grebe

Great Grebe

Sooty Albatross

Northern Giant Petrel

Mottled Petrel (They are so pretty and distinctive!)

King Penguin

Rock-hopper Penguin

Buff-necked Ibis

Chilean Flamingo


Black-necked Swan

Ashy-headed Goose

Ruddy-headed Goose

Crested Duck

Flying Steamer-Duck

Spectacled Duck

Speckled Teal

Southern Wigeon

Silver Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Red Shoveler

Rosy-billed Pochard

Turkey Vulture

Andean Condor (a major ‘want!! Basically a vulture with a 3+ metre wingspan.)

Red-gartered Coot

White-winged Coot

Red-fronted Coot

Southern Lapwing (another big ‘want’)

Two-banded Plover

Rufous-chested Dotterel

Tawny-throated Dotterel

Magellanic Oystercatcher (!!!)

Eared Dove

Black-winged Ground Dove

Barn Owl

Burrowing Owl

(The two most likely owls)

During the expedition none of us will have access to internet, so I will not be able to write on my blog. We will be allowed to post daily updates in the Students on Ice blog though. It will be our (the students) only way of contacting the outside world. My Mom will be sharing my daily updates on this blog while I am gone. You will definitely hear about every bird, fish, and mammal I see!

Ten days to go and counting….


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