Antarctica Tour: Six Hundred Kilometers of Albatross

By Jim Danzenbaker and Ann Nightingale 

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The carpet of Black-browed Albatrosses seen here was photographed on 4 January 2012. This colony covers roughly three miles of shoreline at Steeple Jason. If lined up wingtip to wingtip, the 300,000 Black-broweds that summer here would stretch for 600 kilometers. (Photo by Ann Nightingale)

4 January 2012

Jim’s view: Steeple Jason—one of the crown jewels of the Falkland Islands—didn’t disappoint today. It's hard to top waking up and seeing an island salted and peppered by thousands of Black-browed Albatrosses. Superlatives can’t capture the landscapes or the sheer amount of life on this island. After a bouncy Zodiac ride and a rocky landing, I had arrived. A fellow staffer and I headed toward the colony, marking a trail with flags as we went. 

Once the trail had been set, I plunged into the twelve-foot high tussock grass and stole a moment to view the extensive colony. Wow, what an incredible sight! Many albatrosses with a single chick on their pedestal nests, others in ritualistic display and still others serenely sleeping, egg or young completely concealed. Rockhopper Penguins with young populated the corridors between the pedestals. Albatrosses plied the sky—high, low, and everywhere in between. A 113,000 pairs of breeding Black-footed Albatrosses with at least another 75,000 non-breeders call this island home—600 kilometers of albatross, if you lined them up wingtip to wingtip. 

Back at our proposed base camp for gear, two pairs of Johnny Rooks were investigating me, so I chose a new location. They are not only very curious, they are also very territorial and they will vigorously defend their nesting areas. I had been warned! Others in our party arrived and shared in this visual bounty. I gave two talks on the Black-browed Albatrosses, both well attended. I managed the landing without getting hit by any Johnny Rooks, something that I've endured in other years. At least five others weren't so lucky. A Johnny Rook grabbed a hat right off one person's head and then dropped it into the tussock grass, never to be seen again. I took the opportunity to lie on the ground and let the albatrosses fly several feet in front of my face as they lit in a loafing spot, apparently reserved for non-breeding birds–an indescribable experience! 

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Jim takes a moment to relax and enjoy the Black-browed Albatrosses sailing right over him (Photo by Ann Nightingale)

On the walk back to the landing site a pair of skuas with chicks stole some valuable remaining time. All good things must come to an end. The last Zodiac headed back to the Ortelius at 4 p.m. A full nine hours on shore and every minute worthwhile. We enjoyed a full entourage of birds during our sail along the northern coast of the Falklands on our way to South Georgia. Penguins, Fur Seals, Albatrosses and snow-capped peaks ahead.  

Ann’s view: This morning’s landings came with warnings of sharp slippery rocks and rough loading and unloading of the Zodiacs, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as suggested. The weather was forecast to be rainy, but aside from a few showers, we had another sunny day. Our destination was Steeple Jason Island, home to the largest Black-browed Albatross colony I’m likely to ever see. Three miles of beach hold somewhere around 300,000 birds, not even counting the chicks! The winds were strong enough to keep the sky filled with these “small” albatrosses. They only have a six-foot wingspan. 

Several disparate thoughts crossed my mind today. I wondered if scenes like this greeted the Europeans when they arrived in North America. It’s easy to understand how such abundance could make people complacent about conserving a species. I felt akin to bees and butterflies as I broke my way through the tussock grass to get close to the colony. When I emerged, I was covered from head to foot with orange pollen. Perhaps I have helped the fertilization process for thousands of new tussock plants. And I noticed that the stark beauty of the island may be due, in part, because there were no trees or bushes in sight. 

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Tussock Birds make walking a challenge. They always seems to be inches away. (Photo by Jim Danzenbaker)

The Falklands are shaped by the wind in many ways, and the lack of tall vegetation is one of them. Plants grow close to the ground or in thick “groves” like the tussocks. Just like the birds, they cluster together, providing protection from the elements.  The birds. What can you say about tens of thousands of nesting albatrosses that barely raise a black brow when dozens of people in colorful outdoor gear and snapping cameras are standing just a stone’s throw away? They come and go, feed their young, bicker, court and carry on as if we weren’t even there. 

Three species of penguins pose for hours on end, the young chicks panting in the heat of a Falkland summer day. The Johnny Rooks (Striated Caracaras) entertained us by creeping up to us as we sat on the ground, even nipping at those who were brave (and foolish) enough to let them have a taste of human flesh. Several in our group felt the harsh reality of a raptor’s talons on the back of their heads when they approached too close to a nesting area. One even lost her hat to an attacking Johnny Rook. I found two Brown Skua nests. The first parents were gracious enough to let me take pictures of their chicks without a fuss. The second parents flew out of a burrow in the hillside shrieking their displeasure that I had was on their island. Albatrosses as far as you can see, penguins waddling in and out of the ocean, predators prepared to take full advantage of our presence—wow! To use the words of a friend, it was a spectacle!

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HE WOULDHELP,, CITIBANK HAS LIED TO THE DFEH AND US LABOR DEPTWAGE AND HOUR DIVISION AND TO THEIR CLIENTS ABOUT MYSTATUS, I NEED HELP, HOW CAN I FIGHT WHEN THISCORPORATION IS TELLING LIES AND HAS ALL THE LAWYERSTHEY NEED AND I CAN’T AFFORD ONE. HOW MANY TIMES ARETHEY GOING TO GET AWAY WITH MISTREATING EMPLOYEESON 8/8/06 RONAN FROM THE US DEPT OF LABOR WAS TOLD BYA CITIBANK ATTORNEY THAT THEY WOULD SEND ME A LETTEREXPLAINING MY STATUS AS STILL AN EMPLOYEE, I HAVE YETTO GET THIS LETTER, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PUT ALETTER TOGETHER IF THEY ARE TELLING THE TRUTH?YOUR OFFICE AS WELL AS THE FIRST LADY’S OFFICE HASCALLED ME BUT WE AREN’T GETTING ANYWHERE. IT HAS BEEN7 MONTHS SINCE I FIRST WROTE THE GOVERNOR. CITIBANKATTORNEYS HAVE CANCELLED 2 DEPOSITIONS AT THE LASTMINUTE THE LAST INE THEY CANCELLED WAS AFTER TALKINGTO THE US LABOR DEPARTMENT,WHY?MY JOB WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO MY FAMILY AND I PLEASEHELP ME AND MY FAMILY AND ALL THOSE BEFORE ME THATHAVE BEEN WRONGFULLY TERMINATED BY CITIBANK FOR NOGOOD REASONWHY IS EVERYONE SO AFRAID OF CITIGROUP? WHY CAN’T IFIND AN ATTORNEY WILLING TO STAND UP TO THEM ON ACONTINGENCY BASIS? I VOTED FOR THE GOVERNOR AND I NEEDHIM NOWPLEASE CALL ANN FROM THE DFEH AT 408-277-1916 THEYTOLD HER THAT I HAD CALLED IN ILL ON 11/15/05 AND THATI TOLD THEM I WOULDN’T BE IN, THIS IS A LIE I WORKEDTHAT DAY AND I CAN PROVE THIS WITH MY IME CARD, THENTHEY SAY THEY MADE AN ERRORPLEASE CALL RONAN AT 415-744-5590 EXT 226 FROM THE USLABOR DEPT TO VERIFY WHAT CITIBANK ATTORNEYS SAID. THEONLY REASON THEY OFFERED ME FMLA IS BECAUSE I FILEDFOR DISABILITY, BEFORE THAT THEY HAD PAID OUT MY FINALPAYCHECK, FIRED ME VIA UPS, SENT ME COBRA INFORMATION.PLEASE HELP US PLEASE SEE THAT THE GOVERNOR GETS THISEMAIL AND ASK HIM TO MAKE A CALL ON MY BEHALFCORPORATE AMERICA NEEDS TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF THEIRGOOD EMPLOYEES AND NOT ALLOW A MANAGER WITH BAD SKILLSTO FIRE SOMEONE JUST BECAUSE HE WANTS TOSINCERELY DAMARI STARTFRODMOTHER WIFE HUMAN BEING AND I VOTED FOR THE GOVERNORI MATTER TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!CITIBANK IN CARMEL LIES TO CLIENTS ABOUT WHY I AM NOTTHERE. THEY TELL PEOPLE THAT I AM ON VACATION OR THATI LEFT TO WORK FOR MY HUSBAND INSTEAD OF TELLING THEMHAT THEY FIRED ME AFTER MY DOCTOR FAXED IN A NOTE ANDCALLED IN FOR ME TO PROTECT ME FROM HAVING MY BLOODPRESSRE RISE. JEFF URSINO AND KATHLEEN MUNOZ LIES TOANN AT THE DFEH AND THEIR LAWYERS LIED TO THE US DEPTOF LABOR. KATHLEN WAS DOING THE OVERDRAFT ON HERDAUGHTERS ACCOUNTS AND REFUNDED HER OWN DAUHGTER MONEYWHILE THE MANAGER WAS ON VACATION. SHE LIES ABOUTBEING FIRED FROM WELLS FARGO, SHE LIED TO THE WORKERSCOMP PEOPLE AND WILL LIE TO ANYONE. KATHLEEN HADINSTUCTED THE OTHER TELLERS TO COOK THE BOOKS BYHAVING THEM PUT IN FALSE REFEERALS AND JEFF URSINO DIDNOTHING ABOUT IT BUT I GOT WRITTEN UP FOR MISSING WORKWITH A DOCTORS NOTE. THEY STATE TO ONE AGENCY THAT IWAS FIRED AND TO THE OTHER THAT I AM STILL EMPLOYED,THEY STATE I WAS FIRED FOR NOT CALLING IN YET I WASRESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO HAVE MY DOCTOEOR CALL IN AND FAXMY NOTE IN DUE TO THE STRESS AND HARRASSMENT BROUGHTON BY JEFF AND CITIBANK, WHERE ARE THE ETHICS IN THISCOMPANYNOW THEY ARE TELLING MORE LIES TO THE DEPT OF FAIREMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING JEFF TELLS THEM WHY I WAS FIREDAND THEIR LAWYERS TELL THE US DEPT OF LABOR THAT I AMSTILL EMPLOYEEDPLEASE HELP US GET THIS STORY OUT TO THE WORLD IF ITISN’T TOO MUCH TO ASK:) HOW DO YOU FIGHT LIARS, HOW DOTHEY SLEEP AT NIGHTCITIBANK IN CARMEL 831-624-8258 CALL AND ASK THEMWHERE I AM ASK FOR KATHLEEN AND ASK HER WHY SHE LIESTHIS WOMAN WAS HAVING CITIBANK PAY FOR HER DAUGHTEROVERDRAFTS AND HER A TELLER REFUND HER OWN DAUGHTERMONEY WHILE THE MANAGER WAS OUT ON VACATION SO WHYSHOULD ANYONE BELEIVE THIS UNETHICAL PERSON JUST ASJEFF URSINO THE MANAGER OF THE CAPITOLA BRANCH LIES TOHIS BOSSES TO MAKE HIMSELF LOOK BETTER PLEASE HELP USWE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIMEHOW DO YOU FIGHT A CORPORATION LIKE THISExtra! Extra! Read all about it!DAMARI AND CITIBANK HERE IS THE TRUTH!!To set the record stahgirt!Damari was fired by Citibank in Carmel!Damari did not leave the bank to go work for herhusband!!!!DAMARI HAD NO PLANS TO LEAVE CITIBANK!DAMARI PLANNED ON STAYING FOR ANOTHER 16YRS.THE BENEFITS WERE VERY IMPORTANT TO HER FAMILY!!DAMARI WAS FIRED VIA UPS WHILE AT HOME ILL DUE TO WORKRELATED STRESS BROUGHT ON BY THE MANAGER AND THEUNFAIR AND UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF EMPLOYEESALONG WITH BEING THREATEN AND HARASSEDBY THE MANAGER FOR JOB ABANDOMENT.SEVERAL OFCitibank clients have TOLD HER that they have beentold by the staff at the Carmel branch :THAT SHE LEFT TO GO WORK FOR HER HUSBAND!THIS IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE!!!!What else will they lie about?Are they ashamed of what was doneWHY DO THEY FEEL THEY NEED TO SAY SHE LEFT TO GO WORKWITH HER HUSBAND( I DO NOT WORK FOR JND PLUMBING)(NOR AM I ON VACATION)INSTEAD OF JUST TELLING THE TRUTH ?IS THERE ANYONE IN THE CARMEL BRANCH THAT COULD SWEARTO THIS? NO!You can reach Damari at ENOUGH WITH THE LIES CITIBANK!!!IF YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD THIS PLEASE SEND HER AN EMAILCITIBANK TOLDTHE US LABOR DEPT WAGE AND HOUR DIVISION ,ON 08/08/06THAT I AM STILL AN EMPLOYEEYET I HAVE LETTERS AND DOCUMENTSTHAT CLEARLY USE THE WORDSTERMINATEDNO LONGER WITH THE COMPANYFORMER EMPLOYEEAND MY 401K AND PENSION HAVE BEEN SENT TO ME AS OF8/24/06 I HAVE YET TO GET THE LETTER FROM CITIBANKWHICH EXPLAINS HOW I AM STILL AN EMPLOYEE! HOW LONGDOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A LETTER IF YOU ARE TELLING THETRUTH HOW CAN THEY SAY TO THE US DEPT OF LABOR THAT IAM STILL AN EMPLOYEE YET THEY TELL THE DFEH THAT THEYFIRED ME FOR NOT CALLING IN, WHAT IS THE TRUTHCITIBANK????CITIBANK STATES THAT I WAS FIRED FOR NOT CALLING INYET MY DOCTOR CALLED IN FOR ME THE DAY BEFORE AND ALSOFAXED IN A NOTE FOR ME WHICH THE MANAGER RETURNED TOME WITH MY LETTER OF TERMINATION. THEY KNEW THE DAYBEFORE THAT I WASN’T COMING IN SO WHY WOULD HE CALL TOASK IF I WAS COMING IN IF IT WAS CLEARLY STATED ON THENOTE AND TOLD TO THEM BY MY DOCTOR TO PROTECT MYHEALTHJUST MORE LIES BY THE CITIBANK STAFF IN CARMELDCSbears I whole heartedly understand you delemma, and my heart goesout to you.a few years back, I worked for citibank/corp. for one full year.It was without doubt the worst job, and the worst nightmare I haveever lived. The treatment of employees was abominable, among manyother things. .I worked with people that had been there for years. They were not treatedany better, than I was.I quit in the middle of the day. I sat in my car for a good twenty minutesbreathing in what was for me, the most fresh air I had in one year.In the following year, at least six people I had worked with, and had been therefor years, were let go, with the very worst excuses ever. Of course the lost allbenifits, and retirments.Needless to say, I have never again banked with them, or used one of their creditcards, or have done any other business with them, whatsoever, and when asked I inform orher companies why.I have always and to this day, informed everyone within earshot, of that disgusting thing, know as citibank/corp.I am sorry they got you. I hope you get them.FROM AOL BLOG THANK YOU FOR YOU THOUGHTSCITIBANK FIRES ME FOR NOT FOLLOWING POLICY YET THEY DIDN’T FOLLOW THEIR OWN POLICY CITIBANK IS UN FAIR AND UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF EMPLOYEESWHAT KIND OF MAN FIRES YOU WHILE YOU ARE ILL KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE WORK RELATED STRESS AND YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE IS UP? HOW HEARTLESS IS THIS CITIBANK MANAGER WHO COULDN’T WAIT FOR ME TO GET WELL?CITIBANK MADE THE LIST OF THE 100 BEST COMPANIES FOR WORKING MOTHERS BUT AS I WAS ATTEMPTING TO PUT MY DAUGHTER FIRST THEY FIRED ME!!!I WASN’T GIVEN AN EXIT INTERVIEW NOR WERE MY KEYS ASK FOR BUT THAT IS THEIR POLICY! HE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE MY FINAL PAYCHECK WITH MY LETTER OF TERMINATION AND THEY DEPOSITED IT INTO MY ACCOUNT WHICH IS NOT CALIF CODEMy heart goes out for you, just know that things happen for a resound and what go around must come around!! I myself am having my own issue with Citibank!!! I was approved for a lone and used my car as collateral which later I contacted them to hand me over the Title for renewal and it’s been now 3 dfΩ months I have been waiting for it and now have to deal with my vehicle parked without insurance and Citibank’s excuse is that Motor Vehicle can not locate my title and the most frustrating thing is that all the time I call I must have gave my # over 20 times and never get a call back regarding the status of my situation I would have to repeat myself all over again to a new rep .How frustrating!!! Well that is the story of life Drama .Good Luck.To OCC officeThank you for your reply and for requesting information form Citibank. Citibank states that I was fired for not following policy but yet they didn’t follow their own policy and guide lines nor were they equal and fair in how they treated each employee.Citibank states that I was fired for not calling in, but I did have my doctor call in at the end of my doctors appointment on 12/12/05 and my doctor also faxed on a note. Contact was made with the bank. My doctor called in to protect my health.I have copies of some of Citibank policy which are in the employee hand book and from what I have read Citibank and the manager didn’t follow proper procedure. Before firing they are to consider your work performance and take that into consideration and my reviews were very good. I never got a verbal warning just written up and the write up was not correct with errors. Citibank gives an exit interview which I didn’t get nor was I asked to send in my keys.Citibank sent me my Cobra papers and never offered me FMLA, when they find put that I was applying for disability or that I was disabled they reinstated my benefits and made them retro to 01/01/06Citibank then sends me a check for about six weeks worth of pay with no deductions for benefits then all of a sudden they start deducting for medical and dental and now I have to pay for these benefits out of my pocket.Many if Citibank clients have told me they have been told that I left to work for my husband or that I am on vacation.Lisa Austin of Citigroup mentioned that when I go back to work they would set up payments for some of these benefits but she couldn’t explain how this would happened after I explained that I had been fired. Is Citibank going to fire me again via UPS when my doctor feels that I am well enough to look for work?Citibank didn’t; follow policy to the tee and fires me for not following policy to the tee but had no heart about me being ill and my doctor helping me out.Citibank made the list of the best 100 companies for working mother to work at but as I try to put my daughter first they started harassing me with abandonment and corrective action.My seniority didn’t matter to them.Ronon at the US Dept of labor, wage and hour division ( 1-415-744-5590 ext 226 ) was told by Citigroup attorney that I was still employed and they would send a letter to explain but the letter never came.Citibank fired me while in the middle of a workers comp pending case.Ann at the DFEH ( 1-408-277-1916 ) was lied to by Jeff Ursino and Kathleen Munoz, they explain to the DFEH how and why they fired me.Again Citibank violated state labor codes and more.Employees which are unethical are still working there and I get fired for having my doctor call in, these employees broke company policy and still have jobs.Citibank recently sent me a letter thanking me for my five years of service and it states looking forward to another five years but I was fired on 12/13/05 a few days later a get another letter stating that yes I had been terminated and the stocks that were issued to me for being a good employee had been taken back due to an error in their system. I believe the only error is that I was wrongfully terminated and Citibank is back tracking trying to cover up their mistakes.My pension and 401k have been sent to me due to termination and then I get the letter saying looking forward to another five years.Jeff Ursino knew that the tellers were cooking the books and none of them were written up or fired. Kathleen was refunding her daughter money and having Citibank pay for her overdrafts and she still has a job and Jeff knew about this. Unfair unequal treatment of employees.Why did it take Citibank a few weeks to give me a clear reason as to why I was fired? Why was my final check deposited into my account, why was I fired via UPS, Why was my final check not ordered until 12/14/05? Why did Chrys Smith call workers comp on 12/14/05 to see if my case was going to be denied but yet didn’t bother telling them that they had already fired me? This is violation of code 132A.Why doesn’t the staff at Citibank in Carmel simply say she is no longer with us instead of all the lies?Why was Citibank so strict with me and the policy and yet not the other employees?Why was it ok for Andrea to change her schedule but not me and I had the seniority over her?Citibank told the Office of Thrift Supervision that they were dealing with it internally and the office asked them to send me a letter of explanation yet they never did.How many other state codes have they ignored and violated?Jeff Ursino states that he was calling to see if I was coming in yet he returns to me the faxed in note by my doctor with my letter of termination which clearly stated that I would be out for a few more days? Jeff knew I wasn’t coming in he just fired me because I wanted to communicate via email to protect my blood pressure and stress level. Is it against the law to protect yourself? They wamt to hold me to the letter of theit policy but don’t follow their policy or state codes to the letter of policy.

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