Needless to say there was more to the 9th of February than just the whales. (Although admittedly they did steal the limelight). Black-browed Albatrosses are the commonest albatross on the island. The ‘WILDGuides’ Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia states there are 75,000 breeding pairs. Most of these pairs nest on islands such as Bird, Cooper and the Willis Island group. All these locations being off the main island.
Light-mantled (Sooty) Albatross breeds in much smaller numbers; approximately 5000 pairs. These birds have a long breeding season, incubation being 65-71 days with fledging taking a further 141-170 days. So although they start breeding in the spring it is the onset of winter before the cycle is complete. The pair will not then breed until spring the following year.
White-chinned Petrel is a common large petrel of South Georgia, nesting in burrows within area of Tussac. The breeding population stands at around 900, 000 pairs. The bird regularly does a fly past of the ship without ever following too closely. The white chin of the birds name can be very difficult to distinguish at sea; digital images are a god send in so many ways. That said the bird is not easily confused with other species in the South Atlantic. Blue Petrel can be easily overlooked as a Prion but the white tip to the tail and the dark cap should clinch the id. 70,000 pairs breed on South Georgia. Snow Petrel breeding pairs are around the 3000 mark. I had missed the bird here on two previous visits so a single bird on the 9th and three further birds a few days later were a welcome addition to my SG tally.