The Southern Ocean                       all photos by Brian Patteson; no use w/o permission

Until recent years, it was nearly impossible to get good photos of flying prions.  These Antarctic Prions were photographed from a ship one afternoon with a Canon EOS 30D and 400mm/5.6 Canon lens.

The prions were buzzing overhead, but the Canon autofocus did well in the bright sunshine.

It was great fun, and because you don't have to pay for film, you can just keep shooting. 

One of my first good photos of an Antarctic Prion was taken from the Vavilov, a great ship for photographers.

Black-browed Albatross is the most numerous albatross on cruises to South Georgia and Antarctica.

Younger Black-browed Albatrosses have darker underwings and a drab bill.

Black-bellied Storm-Petrel is common, but hard to get a close photo of.

The Blue Petrel looks like a cross between a prion and gadfly petrel.

Gray-headed Albatrosses are often seen around South Georgia and in the Drake Passage.

A young Gray-headed Albatross has a darker head than a young Black-browed.

The lovely Light-mantled Albatross nests at South Georgia and feeds in Antarctic waters.

The Light-mantled Albatross and its congener the Sooty Albatross (Phoebetria) have longer tails than other albatrosses.

The Northern Giant-Petrel is typically found farther to sea than the Southern Giant-Petrel.  It can be identified by the reddish tip to the bill (paler and greener in Southern.)

In some birds the bill marking is more muted.

While female Northern Giant-Petrels forage extensively at sea, the males compete at seal carcasses on and near the shore.

The dapper Pintado Petrel or Cape Petrel is a regular ship follower.

As is the White-chinned Petrel, which might not always have a white chin.

When the white "chin" is visible, it requires a close look to see because it blends in with the pale bill.

The Soft-plumaged Petrel, which is small and fast, is a difficult bird to photograph.

Southern Fulmars are can be common but are sporadically seen on many of these cruises.

A Southern Giant-Petrel with its pale green tipped bill.

The "White Nelly" is a morph found only in the Southern Giant-Petrel.

The Southern Royal Albatross from New Zealand is huge like a Wanderer and is common in shelf waters around South America and the Falklands.

Thin-billed Prions have a broader eye-stripe than Antarctics.

Thin-billed Prions can be seen in large numbers around the Falklands.

A close up look at this female Wandering Albatross belies her nine foot wingspan.