The morning of Feb 2nd, Vennie and I caught an early flight down to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. We checked in at the Hotel Albatross and got a quick lunch at the hotel restaurant (a very tasty, if not cheap, meal). It was a bright sunny day in Ushuaia, so we decided to explore the town. We started at the port to see if our ship to Antarctica, the Lyubov Orlova, was in port yet. It wasn’t there yet, but I saw a number of birds and lovely sites, including going to the End of the World Museum. Ushuaia is on the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the southern end of the Andes Mountains. Knowing that the next day we’d be boarding the ship, I decided that night would be a good time to put on the sea-sickness patch (I get motion sickness on just about anything that moves – so the Drake Passage the next day filled me with dread with its legendary rough waters).

The next morning we joined the rest of the Orlova passengers on a guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. The views of the Rio Pipo, Mount Condor, and Chile were phenomenal. Take a look at my photos of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego to see the wildlife and views of the city, prot, and national park.
For those birders among you, I saw a quite nice selection of birds (asterisks for the lifers in list):
House Sparrow
*Upland Goose
*Dolphin Gull
*South American Tern
Neotropic Cormorant
*Rock Shag
*Kelp Goose
Kelp Gull
*Flying Steamer-Duck
*Flightless Steamer-Duck
*King Shag
Black-crowned Night Heron
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Chimango Caracara
Crested Caracara
*Great Grebe
*Buff-necked Ibis
*Thorn-tailed Rayadito
*Imperial Shag
*Dark-bellied Cinclodes
*Fire-eyed Diucon
*Austral Negrito
Southern Lapwing

By late afternoon we were on board the Lyubov Orlova and in our cabin. Of course a welcome cocktail party to introduce the crew and expedition staff was the first activity and then off to dinner
as we ship off into the Beagle Channel.

The winds are pretty high and it is clear that the Drake Passage is not going to be a calm Drake Lake the next day (Feb 4th). I wake up in the morning (the wake-up call says that we are having 2 to 5 meter swell) and soon realize that while the motion sickness medicine is working, it isn’t quite doing the whole job. I skip breakfast and eventually drag myself up to the dinning room to have some tea.
Apparently about a third of the passengers are feeling like me or worse. I find that the fresh air outside helps, but I wasn’t really improving. By lunchtime I decide to take bonine in addition to the scopolamine patch and an hour later I’m feeling great. The seas calmed down some (maybe max waves of 3 or 4 meters instead of 5) and felt ready to take my camera out and try to identify some pelagic birds. Holding onto the rails for safety I discover the albatrosses love the high winds (over a dozen Wandering Albatrosses are following the ship, as well as Giant Petrels and Black-browed Albatrosses and other birds). Problem is trying to get photos from a moving ship while holding onto the railings for dear life. At least I saw the birds, even if I didn’t get great photos. Of course, to keep us occupied, there were great lectures on the wildlife, history, and geology of Antarctica. I paid particular attention to the ornithologist, Akos, since he told us how to tell all the pelagic birds apart.

The second day of the Drake Passage (Feb 5th) was calmer and most everyone was feeling better and at meals. Unfortunately, the birds were less abundant. However, with the ship tossing less I was able to do more photography, take a look a few Drake Passage photos.
The birds I saw on the Drake Passage were:
*Wandering Albatross
*Black-browed Albatross
*Southern Giant Petrel
*Northern Giant Petrel
*White-chinned Petrel
*Cape Petrel
*Brown Skua
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
*Black-bellied Storm-Petrel
*Antarctic Prion

We also saw many whale spouts, but had no close encounters with whales, just some distant views of humpback and fin whales. I got close views of hourglass dolphins and a fur seal.