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5 October, 1769

 

On 5 October, 1769, James Cook wrote “saw one of the same sort of Birds as we saw last saturday, these Birds are of a dark brown or Chocolate colour with some white feathers under their wings and are as big as ravens; Mr Gore says that they are in great plenty at Port Egmont in about Faulklands Islds and for that reason calles them Port Egmont Hens”.

Joseph Banks wrote “Our old enemy Cape fly away entertaind us for three hours this morn all which time there were many opinions in the ship, some said it was land and others Clouds which at last however plainly appeard. 2 Seals passd the ship asleep and 3 of the birds which Mr Gore calls Port Egmont hens, Larus Catarrhactes, and says are a sure sign of our being near land. They are something larger than a crow, in flight much like one, flapping their wings often with a slow motion; their bodies and wings of a dark chocolate or soot colour, under each wing a small broadish bar of dirty white which makes them so remarkable that it is hardly possible to mistake them. They are seen as he says all along the Coast of America and in Faulklands Isles; I myself remember to have seen them at Terra del Fuego but by some accident did not note them down. Just before sun set we were much entertaind by a shoal of Porpoises like those seen yesterday; they kept in sight of the ship for near an hour, all that while as if in hot pursuit of some prey, leaping out of the water almost over each other; they might be very justly compard to a pack of hounds in full cry only their numbers which were some thousands made them a much more considerable object; sometimes they formd a line near ¼ of a mile in lengh, sometimes contracted them selves into a much smaller compass, keeping the water wherever they went in a foam so that when they were so far from the ship that their bodys could not be distinguishd any man would have taken them for breakers”.

Lieutenant John Gore had already sailed twice round the world, in HMS Dolphin with Byron 1764-1766, and in HMS Dolphin with Wallis 1766-1768.  He described the Great Skua (Catharacta skua).

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