Photos of the Week – 6/28/2018: A visit to the Falkland Islands !
The Falkland Islands are just off the lower tip of Argentina, but a territory of England.
Why would I pick the island of the Falklands to do a photo gallery of? An island is an island and all islands in the ocean have something worth visiting, don’t they? This island is unique, if you look at the map above. You will find it is the one of the last islands that you see before you get to Antarctica. So, is is a cold island? Answer: Yes. Is it pretty? Answer: In spots. Is it worth taking my camera there and making it a photographic destination? Answer: Yes. And the reason why is because no one thinks it has anything worth taking pictures of, and they are wrong. In this blog today, I am going to show you that it has some beautiful scenery and rare animal life there, worthy of a special trip. I often think that with the right photographer, this place could be a gold mine for some one. So, let’s take a look at what we have so far:
Across the archipelago there are many and varied birding opportunities. Birdlife proliferates everywhere but if you are hoping to see a particular species, research your destination to be sure you will find it. Cobb’s wrens are on rodent-free islands. The inquisitive striated caracara, found on most offshore islands, is a delight to behold but keep a keen eye on your belongings. Black-browed albatrosses are numerous in some places
Follow the Countryside Code, find an observation spot around 6 metres (20 feet) from the birds and you may find that they come to take a look at you.
Trips out to sea afford the opportunity to try to spot the spectacular blows often exhibited by various species of baleen whale. Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins are frequently seen in the shallows and often accompany boats. Tours can be arranged to include the viewing of penguin colonies and sooty shearwaters on the ocean surface as dusk falls.
Gypsy Cove is the closest penguin colony to Stanley and all other destinations have wildlife watching opportunities. Spend as long as you wish and simply enjoy.
Located in the southwest of West Falkland, tucked into a tiny corner of a large, open harbour, Port Stephens offers fantastic wildlife and walking opportunities. You can see all 5 species of penguins here, including macaroni, with the gentoos, kings, rockhoppers and Magellanic all breeding at Wood Cove and Stephens Peak along with many other species of birds. Marine mammals are frequently seen. “Indian Village” is a series of unusual rock formations which characterise a section of the farmland.
Named after 18th century British Admiral and site of the first British settlement in the Falklands, Saunders is located in the northwest of the archipelago. Port Egmont was built in 1765 and vestiges of this early settlement can be seen, a short walk away from the present settlement. Saunders is the second largest offshore island and has very varied terrain, from rocky hills to sweeping shorelines. It is an Important Bird Area and has exceptional wildlife. All five breeding species of penguin can be seen here along with black-browed albatross and many other birds.
The Jason Island group is named after a survey vessel, HMS Jason and located in the extreme northwest of the Falklands peninsula. This rocky-ridged chain of islands boasts breathtaking scenery and amazing wildlife. Reached only by boat, permission is needed to land on any of the islands, most of which are classified as a National Nature Reserve and are Important Bird Areas. Steeple Jason rises steeply from the shore to a series of dramatic rocky peaks, the highest at 290m (952 feet) and is home to the world’s largest colony of black-browed albatross. Other birdlife includes Gentoo and Rockhopper penguins, striated caracaras and southern giant petrels.
Situated on Smylie’s Farm in the northeast of East Falkland, Paloma Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand and home to a variety of wildlife. Gentoo and Magellanic penguins breed here and many other sea and shore birds can be seen. Close by is Paloma pond with wading birds. Follow the coastline to the west to discover small coves with rockpools. The beach can be accessed on foot or off-road vehicle journey. Permission must be obtained from Smylies Farm.
Ferries travel from New Haven on East Falkland to Port Howard on the West. Travel time from Stanley is around two hours, from Darwin and Goose Green around half an hour. Operated by “Workboat Services”, the ferry service transports vehicles and foot passengers. Bookings must be made in advance. New Haven is also home to a colony of Gentoo penguins.
Located in the northwest of East Falkland, at Port San Carlos, Race Point Farm offers great wildlife, walking and fishing opportunities. Rockhopper penguins breed on the western shores, and there are gentoo and Magellanic pengins too. Many species of birds can also be seen, including owls in the small forest. Walking is across easy open plains to the stunning cliffs of Fanning Head.
Located in the southeast of the archipelago, Sea Lion Island is recognised under the Ramsar Convention. The terrain is mainly low lying but with spectacular cliffs at the southern end. Tussac grass proliferates, providing the perfect habitat for a range of wildlife. It is an Important Bird Area with Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, Cobb’s wren, Magellanic snipe and tussac birds. Ninety-five percent of the Falklands’ elephant seal population live here. Sealions breed on the coast and killer whales are frequently observed. A memorial for HMS Sheffield is situated in the southern part of the island.
Situated on Fitzroy Farm, East Falkland, named after the shipwrecked barque “Bertha”, Bertha’s Beach is classified as an “Important Bird Area”, a global standard set by Birdlife International, and is a RAMSAR site. The beautiful white sand beach is home to Gentoo penguins, Magellanic penguins, South American terns, the endemic Falkland flightless steamer duck and ruddy-headed geese. Commerson’s and Peale’s dolphins are frequently seen and sealions may bask along the shore. Over eighty different plant species are recorded including five endemic. The Dusen’s moonwort fern is the rarest plant, found on the coastal greens.
Located on Fitzroy Farm, East Falkland, Kelp Point, also known as Whale Point due to the whale bones found on the beach, is reached by a combination of road and off-road travel. The white sand beach is home to a range of wildlife including Gentoo and Magellanic penguins amongst other species of birds and many Southern Elephant Seals.
Situated at the southern end of East Falkland on North Arm Farm, the area can only be reached by an off-road journey. Bull Point is an Important Bird Area, a global standard set by Birdlife International, and has an amazing amount of wildlife. Gentoo and Magellanic penguins breed here. Upland geese, kelp geese, Falklands steamer ducks, finches, tussac birds, long-tailed meadowlarks, ground tyrants and Falklands thrushes are easily seen along with the occasional striated caracara or variable hawk. Southern sealions and Elephant seals sometimes haul out on the coast. Many native plants grow in the area including the rare Antarctic Eyebright.
Named for the attractive, unusual pebbles found on some of the beaches, Pebble Island is situated in the northwest of the archipelago. The terrain is varied with a chain of rocky peaks, a lakeland area and white sand beaches including the stunning 6.4km (4 miles) long Elephant Beach, the longest in the Falklands. The highest peak is First Mountain at 277m (909 feet). The island is a carefully managed sheep farm. It is an Important Bird Area with Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins; the latter occasionally interspersed with Macaroni penguins. The ponds and lakes in the east are home to waterfowl including the largest concentration of black-necked swans.
First called Long Island, then Breaker Island after the large waves the crash against it, Bleaker Island has more in common with its former names than that of the present day. Located in the southeast of the archipelago, the terrain is low-lying with lovely beaches and sheltered coves. Bleaker Island is a sustainably managed farm with sheep and Hereford cattle. It is also an Important Bird Area with Gentoo, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, crested and striated caracaras, Imperial cormorants, Falklands skuas, ruddy-headed geese, grass wrens and tussac birds. The rare flying steamer duck is found on ponds.
George and Barren Islands lie at the southern entrance to Falkland Sound, the channel of water dividing East and West Falkland. The terrain is low-lying with several ponds and many sheltered, sandy coves. George Island has a large colony of sealions, Magellanic penguins, southern giant petrels and sooty shearwaters. Barren Island also has sealions, elephant seals, Gentoo penguins, southern giant petrels, Cobb’s wren and striated caracaras.
Named for its shape, Kidney Island is located just a few miles from Stanley, the Islands’ capital. It is a National Nature Reserve and an Important Bird Area, a global standard set by Birdlife International. The island is almost entirely covered in tussac grass which in places is 3m (10 feet) tall. Birdlife includes Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, Cobb’s wren and tussac birds. One of the most spectacular experiences is as dusk falls when thousands of sooty shearwaters return to their nests.
Located on Salvador Farm, also known as Gibraltar Station, on the north coast of East Falkland, Cape Bougainville is a picturesque site with cliffs and white sand beaches. It is home to a range of wildlife including Rockhopper and a few Macaroni penguins which sometimes interbreed to produce hybrid offspring. Many other birds inhabit the shores including Southern Giant Petrel and various species of gulls. Sealions bask in the tussac grass. Trips to Cape Bougainville are available with local tour guides.
Located on Dairy Paddock Road, this display of whale skeletons has been created by anti-whaling campaigner Mike Butcher to show the full magnificence of these animals.
Named after a British explorer, Weddell Island is located towards the southwest of the archipelago. It is the largest offshore island and has widely varying terrain from open plains to rocky hills, white sand beaches to sheltered coves. The highest peak is Weddell Mountain at 383m (1,256 feet). The island has superb wildlife including Gentoo and Magellanic penguins, southern and striated caracaras, variable hawks and many shorebirds. Southern sealions inhabit the northern coast. The Patagonian Grey Fox was introduced to the island and can still be seen here. Weddell offers fantastic walking opportunities.
Originally named Albatross Island, West Point Island is located off the north-west tip of West Falkland and is home to black-browed albatross amongst other birds. The terrain is varied, consisting of dramatic sandstone cliffs, falling away to low lying areas of emerald greens. The highest point, Cliff Mountain is 381m (1,211 feet), the highest cliff in the Falklands. It is an Important Bird Area, alongside the albatross are Rockhopper penguins and Imperial Cormorants. Many other species can be seen. Whales, fur seals, sealions and dolphins are also frequently observed.
The islands lie on the boundary of the subantarctic oceanic and tundra climate zones, and both major islands have mountain ranges reaching 2,300 feet (700 m). They are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands because of competition from introduced species. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism and sheep farming, with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports. Oil exploration, licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, remains controversial as a result of maritime disputes with Argentina.
And here is just some more amazing photos:
The Falkland Islands. For more information about travel and learning about the Falkland Islands, go to their main travel website: https://www.falklandislands.com/
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